In Memoriam: Colin L Powell – 2004 Fulbright Prize Laureate

The Fulbright Association alumni community is saddened to learn of the passing of Colin L. Powell, the 2004 recipient of the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding.

Gen. Powell advanced the Fulbright mission of fostering mutual understanding and partner nations by placing emphasis on reaffirming diplomatic alliances throughout the world throughout his career.

He supported a national missile defense system, worked towards peace in the Middle East, and prioritized sanctions instead of force in potential hot spots. He also focused on reinvigorating U.S. diplomacy through reforms in the Department of State’s organizational culture and an infusion of resources for personnel, information technology, security, and facilities.

Awarded by the Fulbright Association since 1993, the Fulbright Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to promoting peace through greater understanding among peoples, cultures, and nations. We are honored that Gen. Powell chose to accept this award in 2004.

Below is an excerpt from Colin L. Powell’s Fulbright Prize speech:

Colin L. Powell – United States Secretary of State
Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Fulbrighters have also been extraordinarily active and successful in the world: 34 have won Nobel prizes; 65 have won Pulitzer prizes; 21 have received MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Awards; 14 have received the presidential medal of freedom, our nation’s highest honor.

And Fulbright scholars have generally been successful in ways that advance both American interests and principles-a Fulbrighter, Arminda Maia, helped lead East Timor’ s struggle for freedom and democracy; Alejandro Toledo, a shoeshine boy turned economist, and now the president of Peru, was a Fulbright scholar at Stanford.

The success of Fulbrighters far transcends government service. One of the most prominent educators in the United States today and the person who chaired the committee that selected me for this, Dr. Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University, the daughter of a sharecropper, she earned her doctorate from Harvard and won a Fulbright fellowship to France. She works tirelessly to support education.

Then there’s Dr. Najma Najam, from Pakistan, founded the Fatima Jinnah Women’s University-the first and only graduate school for women in her country- and she did that just two years after her Fulbright award at the University of Pittsburgh.

So many other stories, I could go on and on and on. In the Fulbright Program’s 58-year history, more than a quarter of a million Americans and foreign citizens have benefited from this experience. But whether they become prime ministers or poets, scientists or senators, educators or engineers, Fulbrighters have all carried 8 with them a better understanding of cultures other than their own, and as a result, they serve as agents of change, they shape opinions, and they contribute to the advancement of both knowledge and international understanding. Better understanding among people is not a magic potion. Not all conflicts in the world are solved, or even caused or solved by misunderstandings, some are based on real interests that really conflict.

But we’d be irresponsible not to take full advantage of what President Lincoln called the better angels of human nature. And that’s what the Fulbright Program is all about.

Photos from the event.


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