On the first anniversary of the historic 2008 election, retired Gen. Colin Powell, the first African-American secretary of state, talks one-on-one with CNN’s Don Lemon about on the most pressing issues facing black men in the age of President Obama.
Don Lemon: President Barack Obama issued a national call to service. Do you think African-Americans have answered that call?
Colin Powell: I really don’t know that I know the answer to that question. I do know that in the work that I do and my wife does as the chair of America’s Promise, we are seeing more and more people step forward to try to deal with the problems that we have, to include African-Americans and Hispanics stepping forward.
But it’s not just a one-time thing. You can’t just have, let’s have a day of service on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday or a day of service. We’ve got to get deeply involved in working with our kids on a continuing basis and not just one day a year.
We need more African-American men, for example, to step forward and serve as mentors to young kids who don’t have a responsible, caring adult male in their lives. If I could snap my finger and do one thing, I would make sure that every young American boy or girl, but especially African-American [children], have a responsible, caring adult in their lives.
Hopefully, it’s their parents, even if it’s a single parent. … But without that kind of family support, then we need Boys and Girls Clubs. We need Big Brothers and Big Sisters. We need mentors. Otherwise, these kids will find bad adults to copy from, and we’re going to lose them.