WASHINGTON — Former Secretary of State Colin Powell called the jury verdict that cleared the killer of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin "questionable" and urged President Barack Obama to speak more on issues of race during an interview that aired Sunday.
The first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the Martin verdict soon would be forgotten but said Obama — and all presidents — have a responsibility to discuss the nation's history of racial injustice. Powell spoke as Washington marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s march that included the iconic "I Have a Dream" speech.
"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,'" said Powell, also the first African American to serve the nation as secretary of state.
Asked about the Martin killing, Powell questioned its impact on the civil rights discourse. A Florida jury found George Zimmerman acted in self-defense and acquitted him during a criminal trial.
"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."
That doesn't mean Obama should keep silent, though, Powell said.
"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 election.
"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.
Powell said he didn't fully grasp the civil rights upheaval happening during the early 1960s until he returned from Vietnam. His wife, Alma, didn't share the developments with him from their home in Birmingham, Ala., and his service blocked him from engaging in the political upheaval.
He said the civil rights era helped blacks but more needs to be done.
"A lot has been accomplished, and we should be so proud of our accomplishments," he said. "But at the same time, that mirror should show us that there are still problems in this country, that there is still racial bias that still exists in certain parts of our country."
Powell spoke with CBS' "Face the Nation." -- (AP)
TRENTON, N.J. — Cory Booker dominates a poll of likely voters with less than a week to go before New Jersey's special U.S. Senate race primary on Tuesday.
The Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday shows 54 percent of likely Democratic primary voters support the Newark mayor.
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone gets 17 percent, Rep. Rush Holt receives 15 percent and Assembly Speaker Shelia Oliver is backed by 5 percent.
Steve Lonegan trumps Alieta Eck 74 to 10 percent among likely Republican primary voters.
Booker leads Lonegan 54 to 29 percent among registered voters surveyed in the race to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
The poll of 2,042 New Jersey voters has a higher sampling error among the smaller subsets of Democratic and Republic voters. -- (AP)
Riley Cooper has returned to the Philadelphia Eagles after he was caught on video using a racial slur and given four days off.
The team says Cooper is expected to be at practice Tuesday. The Eagles and Patriots are to hold a joint practice.
The wide receiver was fined by the Eagles after his slur became known Wednesday. He left the team Friday to seek counseling.
The video of Cooper was taken at a Kenny Chesney concert in June. Cooper apologized profusely Wednesday and Thursday. -- (AP)
The Philadelphia Eagles excused Riley Cooper from all team activities on Friday after the wide receiver was caught on video making a racial slur.
Cooper said the last few days have been incredibly difficult and he will step away to seek counseling.
"My actions were inexcusable," he said. "The more I think about what I did, the more disgusted I get. I keep trying to figure out how I could have said something so repulsive, and what I can do to make things better."
Cooper apologized profusely Wednesday after a video of him using the N-word at a Kenny Chesney concert last month surfaced on the Internet. The Eagles immediately fined him.
"Right now, I think it's important for me to take some time to reflect on this situation," Cooper said. "The organization and my teammates have been extremely supportive, but I also realize that there are people who will have a tough time forgiving me for what I've done. The best thing for me, and for the team, is to step away for a period of time."
The Eagles did not set a timetable for Cooper's return.
"He will meet with professionals provided by the Eagles during this period of time to better help him understand how his words have hurt so many, including his teammates," the team said in a statement.
Cooper spoke to the media again after practice Thursday, telling them his meeting with teammates a night earlier was "extremely emotional." Teammates Michael Vick, Jason Avant and others expressed forgiveness for Cooper. LeSean McCoy also said he forgives Cooper, but "I can't really respect somebody like that."
Cooper, who grew up in Clearwater, Fla., was selected in the fifth round of the 2010 draft by the Eagles out of the University of Florida. He has just 46 catches and five touchdowns in three years with the Eagles, but has been practicing with the starters since Jeremy Maclin's season-ending injury last week.
"As long as it takes, and whatever I have to do, I'm going to try to make this right," Cooper said. -- (AP)
Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper has been fined by the team for making a racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert that was caught on video, leading him to say he's "ashamed and disgusted" with himself.
The video of Cooper making the slur surfaced Wednesday on the Internet.
"I want to apologize. I have been offensive. I have apologized to my coach, to Jeffrey Lurie, to Howie Roseman and to my teammates," Cooper said in a statement released by the team. "I owe an apology to the fans and to this community. I am so ashamed, but there are no excuses. What I did was wrong and I will accept the consequences."
Cooper is entering his fourth season in the NFL. He has 46 catches and five touchdowns in three years with the Eagles.
"We are shocked and appalled by Riley Cooper's words," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said. "This sort of behavior or attitude from anyone has no role in a civil society. He has accepted responsibility for his words and his actions. He has been fined for this incident." -- (AP)