|But the networks did break in at 10 p.m. to
cover the most dramatic moments of the confab
for the evening the address by Retired General Colin Powell.
The former National Security advisor to President Ronald Reagan and Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff electrified the convention hall. In language rarely heard in the
confines of a G.O.P. gathering, the revered soldier while praising its presumptive
nominee Texas Governor George W. Bush charged his party with racial hypocrisy.
"We must understand the cynicism that exists in the
black community," Powell lectured. "The kind of cynicism that is created when,
for example, some in our party miss no opportunity to roundly and loudly condemn
affirmative action that helped a few thousand black kids get an education but you
hardly hear a whimper when its the corporate lobbyists that load our tax code with
preferences for special interests."
Powell said that while America is enjoying boom times
"the world is watching to see if all this power and wealth is just for the
well-to-do, the comfortable, the privileged."
The remarks roused the crowd, unlike at the last Republican
convention in 1996 when Powells remarks were greeted with boos from many in the
The fact that this figure of national stature would deliver
such remarks before the convention appear to stem form his own modest beginnings in
Queens. As a young boy in the early 1940s, Powell and his family longed to leave their
rented apartment in the Bronx to visit his uncle and aunts house in Jamaica. The family
dream was to move "up" by owning a house in the suburbs. The Powells
eventually managed to buy the house at 183-68 Elmira Avenue in Hollis, Queens for $17,500.
Powell writes in his autobiography, My American Journey, "the house was a
three-bedroom bungalow in a neighborhood in transition, the whites were moving out and the
blacks moving in. My folks bought from a Jewish family named Weiner, one of the few white
families left. The neighborhood looked beautiful to us, and the Hollis address carried a
certain cachet, a cut above Jamaica, Queens and just below St. Albans, then another gold
coast for middle class blacks."