Colin Powell: Trayvon Martin Verdict "Questionable"


BOB SCHIEFFER: what do you think the implications and the fallout of the Trayvon Martin case will be?

COLIN POWELL: 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. These cases come along, and they blaze across the midnight sky, and then after a period of time, they're forgotten.

SCHIEFFER: After the Trayvon Martin verdict came in, the president spoke very passionately about his own experiences as an African-American. He talked about walking across the street and hearing people click locks, their car doors, things of that nature. How did you feel about that? Were you glad to see him doll that? And would you like to see him be more passionate about race questions?

POWELL: Yeah, I’d like to see him be more passionate about race questions, and I think that was an accurate characterization of some of the things we are exposed to. In my lifetime, over a long career in public life, you know, I’ve been refused access to restaurants where I couldn't eat, even though I just came back from Vietnam. "We can't give you a hamburger. Come back some other time." and I did, right after the civil rights act of 1964. I went right back to that same place and got my hamburger, and they are more than happy to serve me now. It removed a cross from their back. But we're not there yet. We’re not there yet. And so we've got to keep working on it. And for the president to speak out on it is appropriate. I think all leaders, black and white, should speak out on this issue.

SCHIEFFER: should we do more? I mean, he is the first African American president. Is there more to be—

POWELL: He's the president of the United States. So he-- I always like-- I used to refer to myself the secretary of state who happens to be black not the black secretary of state or the black chairman. And so he has a responsibility to the whole country, and I think he should speak out on these, not just because he's the first black president but because he is the president of the United States. And this is a problem that affects all of America, not just black Americans. It is something that is still a residual effect of our history, the racism that existed by law, segregation, slavery, and I think we're slowly, surely moving away from this. And it's going to change-- it's going to require more change in the hearts and minds of people. But we're going to get there. I have no doubt about that.

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