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1010 WINS Black History Month Spotlight: General Colin Powell

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Washington Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder (L) chats with former United States Secretary Of State Colin Powell (C) and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell before the game against the New York Giants at FedEx Field on September 11, 2011 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Washington Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder (L) chats with former United States Secretary Of State Colin Powell (C) and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell before the game against the New York Giants at FedEx Field on September 11, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Since 1942, the United States has observed February as Black History Month. Here at CBSNewYork, we’re celebrating it by recognizing accomplished black New Yorkers. Below, Larry Mullins reflects on his experience with Colin Powell.

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It’s around 10:30 on a Tuesday morning, and I walk into the studio’s here at WINS, and there’s a guy on the phone waiting to talk to me.

And it’s not like I didn’t know he was calling. Barnesy, (My Executive Producer , Sharon Barnes-Waters) had already arranged for the interview. But still, when General Colin Powell calls, and you realize who he is, all kinds of things start going through your head.

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Gen. Colin Powell Photo by Jim Watson

Is he calling me to get my opinion on world peace?

Did he decide to run for President, and he wants me as a running mate or White House Press Secretary?

Did the IRS see something on my taxes from ten years back requiring intervention from the Army?

Wake up Mullins, and get out of the clouds!

The General, excuse me, “me and my friend Colin” were just checking in on each other, chewing the fat, talking about old times, back in the day, here in New York. Truth be told, it was General Powell who grew up in the South Bronx, by way of Harlem. I’m just a transplant who moved here only 4 years ago. But he was so gracious and such a humble, neat facilitator who granted us a rare interview for our Black History Month Series.

Listen: General Colin Powell recounts his military experience

As a former network correspondent, I’ve interviewed tons of local, state, national and world leaders. But not like this. He talked about his inability to play basketball (“I was a bad athlete. I mean, I couldn’t play anything. And it was very embarrassing to be a “brother”, and couldn’t play basketball.

And what was so cool, is that here is a man who is still up to his ears in world affairs. Yet, he took the time and actually let his hair down to talk about what it was like growing up on Kelly street and 163rd!

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Gen. Colin L. Powell attends the International Rescue Committee's Annual Freedom Award benefit at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on November 9, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

What a sense of humor! He joked that one day he said to himself, “…self, you’re going to grow up to be the Chairman of the Joint Chief’s of staff one day”. NOT!

Listen: Larry Mullins’ Complete Interview With Gen. Colin Powell

General Powell says he had no clue what he was going to be. But with his parents, he knew he was going to be “something”. This had to be one of the neatest interviews I’ve conducted in my career. Because here you have a guy who literally just got off the phone, consulting with the powers of government about how to handle global peace initiatives on one hand, and talking about how neat it is to see his section of The Bronx starting to revitalize on the other.

And oh how he loves this country and its military machine; General Powell “raved” about the ROTC program which still exists in schools throughout the country. He says that’s what intrigued him about joining the military in the first place.

For more of Larry Mullins’ interview with Gen. Colin Powell:

I tell you, the only thing that could have made this interview better, is if it were in person. But this guy’s schedule…you know (not mine, General Powell’s schedule). And all the while we’re talking on the phone, I’m sitting there sweating bullets and wondering if the newsroom switchboard is going to pick up, and say, “hello, who were you holding for”??

And you know I walked around the newsroom bragging all day, telling my colleagues  about my new friend Colin.

I just wonder now, if the Secret Service or the Defense Department would put me straight through to him if I called him. Nahhh why ruin it? (It’s the same reason I don’t call Mr. Obama at the office). Wink-wink.

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