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Colin Powell

On September 19, 2017, Michigan Engineering welcomed General Colin Powell to a dialogue with Alec D. Gallimore for the 2017 James R. Mellor Lecture. The retired general discussed geopolitics, race and wisdom for the next generation.


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On international diplomacy, domestic race relations and advice to students, General Colin Powell on Tuesday spoke of patience, kindness and composure.

Powell, former U.S. secretary of state and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff gave the 2017 James R. Mellor Lecture in Hill Auditorium. More than 2,000 people turned out for the talk — a conversation with Alec D. Gallimore, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering.

Live intensely in the present. Study, get the most out of this fabulous university, and prepare yourself.” – General Colin L. Powell

The discussion was candid, heartfelt and timely. In response to Gallimore’s question about the current geopolitical environment, Powell offered commentary on North Korea. He believes the nation is unlikely to make good on a nuclear threat primarily because it serves no strategic advantage. An appropriate strategy at this point, Powell added, would be to ignore North Korea’s nuclear tests. Read more about his response in The Ann Arbor News and the Detroit Free Press

The conversation turned to race relations in the U.S. Powell intimated to Gallimore that 50 years ago, neither of them would be where they are today.

He told the story of a Cheerios ad that featured an interracial couple, and the backlash General Mills received from a subset of consumers. Social scientists showed the ad to a group of children and asked them what they saw. The kids didn’t notice race.

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