Retired Gen. Colin L. Powell will receive the NAACP’s 2011 President’s Award at the 42nd NAACP Image Awards, broadcast live from Los Angeles on March 4. Vicangelo Bulluck, executive producer of the telecast and executive director of the NAACP’s Hollywood Bureau, made the announcement Feb. 10.

This prestigious award will be presented by NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous in recognition of special achievements and distinguished public service. Previous President’s Award recipients include Van Jones, Muhammad Ali, Susan Taylor, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Ryan White, Bryant Gumbel, Alexis Herman, Venus and Serena Williams, Tavis Smiley, Tom Joyner, Condoleezza Rice, President Bill Clinton, Bishop T.D. Jakes and Ella Fitzgerald.

“General Colin Powell has led an extraordinary life of public service,” said Jealous in a statement.  “As the first African American to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and later the first to serve as Secretary of State, General Powell holds a unique place in American history.  He is a man of conscience and conviction, who uses his vast influence to promote education and self esteem to our country’s youth. Although his position on the Iraq War was controversial, he was often the voice of reason in the prosecution of that war.  He rose from humble roots as the son of Jamaican immigrants to become a distinguished military leader, a statesman, a humanitarian and a philanthropist.  He is an inspiration to us all.”

Gen. Powell became the 65th secretary of state on Jan. 20, 2001. He brought extensive experience with him to his office. Before becoming secretary of state, Colin Powell served as a key aide to the secretary of defense and as national security advisor to President Reagan. He also served 35 years in the United States Army, rising to the rank of four-star general and serving as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989 – 1993). 

The NAACP Image Awards air 8-10 p.m. EST on FOX.