Former Secretary of State Colin Powell (R) questioned the legitimacy — and relevance — of the jury verdict in the Trayvon Martin case on CBS’s Face the Nation yesterday. The first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff began by saying that he found the verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman “a questionable judgment on the part of the judicial system down there,” but then wondered whether the case would have “staying power.”
“These cases come along,” he said, “and they blaze across the midnight sky and then, after a period of time, they’re forgotten.”
Powell continued: “There are still problems in this country,” and “[t]here is still racial bias that exists in certain parts of our country.” However, he also acknowledged that “[e]normous progress has been made. African-Americans and other minorities have moved to the top of every institution in American society.”
When the subject of what Martin Luther King, Jr. would have thought about the current state of race-relations arose, he said that he thought Dr. King would say “‘Congratulations on all progress that’s been made, but let’s keep going.'”
“If Dr. King were here, he would be jabbing us,” Powell said. “We should not overlook how far we’ve come since 1963. I have seen things that I couldn’t have imagined. That is a remarkable improvement. But we’re not there yet.”
He also noted that he would “like to see [President Obama] be more passionate about race questions, and I think that was an accurate characterization of some of the things that we were exposed to.”
Watch this video from CBS’ Face the Nation, broadcast Aug. 25, 2013.