By Russell Berman - 08/25/13 03:29 PM EDT
History will record as “questionable” a Florida jury’s decision to find George Zimmerman not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin, Colin Powell said Sunday.
But Powell, the nation’s first black secretary of State, said he didn’t think the decision would have long-term staying power.
“These cases come along and they blaze across the midnight sky and then after a period of time, they're forgotten,” he added.
Powell praised Obama for speaking out on race after Zimmerman’s acquittal of killing Martin, a 17-year-old African-American.
Still, he said he wanted the president to be more “passionate” about race questions.
“He has a responsibility to the whole country, and I think he should speak out on these issues not just because he's the first black president, but because he is the president,” Powell said.
The nation has been roiled this summer by the Zimmerman verdict, with many black leaders arguing it was a case of injustice.
Conservatives more recently have criticized Obama for not speaking out about the killing of a white, Australian baseball player in Oklahoma this week. Three teenagers, two of them African-American, have been arrested in connection with the slaying.