Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who still manages to be one of the few well-respected voices in both the black community and the white conservative community, said the acquittal of George Zimmerman in Trayvon Martin’s death was “questionable.” Powell added that it was “appropriate” for President Obama to speak out on race, and he’d like to see him do it more often and more passionately.
Powell made an appearance on the CBS TV show, “Face the Nation,” in an interview that aired as Washington was in the midst of a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Powell had an interesting take on the Trayvon Martin case, saying that the verdict would likely soon be forgotten.
“I think that it will be seen as a questionable judgment on the part of the judicial system down there, but I don’t know if it will have staying power,” Powell said. “These cases come along and they blaze across the midnight sky and then after a period of time, they’re forgotten.”
But Powell said the president needs to talk more about race.
“I’d like to see him be more passionate about race questions,” Powell said of Obama, whom he endorsed during the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.
“For the president to speak out on it is appropriate. I think all leaders, black and white, should speak out on this issue,” the Republican added.
However, it should be noted that during his time in Washington, Powell himself didn’t often speak out on racial issues, sometimes to the annoyance of black leaders.
Remarking on the 50th anniversary of the march, the first African-American secretary of state said, “If Dr. King was here, I’m quite sure he would say, ‘Congratulations on all the progress that’s been made, but let’s keep going. The dream is not fully achieved yet.'”
When the nation was embroiled in the civil rights movement, Powell said he didn’t fully grasp what was going on because he was in Vietnam and his wife, Alma, didn’t tell him much of what was going on back at their home in Birmingham, Ala.
Powell offered this national report card on race since the 1963 march: “Enormous progress has been made. African-Americans and other minorities have moved to the top of every institution in American society.” But he added: “There are still problems in this country…. There is still racial bias that exists in certain parts of our country.”