Colin Powell – Learning to Lead

BBC Radio 4

The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, in Harlem, New York City is an exceptional college that prides itself on welcoming first generation scholars. Nicknamed the poor person’s Harvard, the school is part of City College, where General Powell himself graduated sixty years ago.

Powell was the son of British Jamaican immigrants who moved to New York and worked in the garment industry. He tells the story of his own journey through education and his passion to connect a new generation of students from less fortunate backgrounds to the best opportunities.

We hear how Powell makes networking and internships a priority – he and his circle and the college staff work to place students in Washington and Wall Street, working in not-for-profits, in law, and organisations such as the United Nations.

We also hear from a collection of students – African Americans, young people from El Salvador and Bangladesh, from China, Peru and the Virgin Islands. As General Powell says, there is no college in the USA that can boast such diversity. It’s a diversity he celebrates, in defiance of prevailing government thinking. America, after all, he points out, was built on immigrant talent and labour – just like his own.

Produced by Susan Marling

Broadcast: Sunday 8th April 2018 at 1.30pm