Face the Nation transcripts August 25, 2013: Powell, Lewis, McCaul, and Reed

The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the latest on the situation in Syria

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on August 25, 2013, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include: Gen. Colin Powell, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, Margaret Brennan, David Rohde, Marian Wright Edelman, Ben Jealous and Taylor Branch.

SCHIEFFER: Today on Face the Nation, 50 years after the march on Washington has Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream come true?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They marched on Washington today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For one day, while the congress, the country and the world watched, they took over the nation's capital in the name of civil rights. What was its impact on the real Washington-- that is, the Washington that governs the United States of America? In the lead, Martin Luther King, the man hailed today above all the others.

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream.

SCHIEFFER: Today, we'll talk about King's dream and the state of race relations with some prominent African-American leaders, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and legendary civil rights leader, Georgia congressman, John Lewis, who was with King that day. Plus, we'll hear General Powell's advice to the president on the crisis in the Middle East.

POWELL: In both Egypt and Syria, America has to take a much more -- a much more clever role.

SCHIEFFER: We'll also talk about the situation in Syria with Senator Jack Reed and Representative Mike McCaul. It's all ahead on "Face the Nation."

ANNOUNCER: And now from CBS News in Washington, Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: Good morning, again. Tens of thousands turned out in Washington yesterday to mark the 50th anniversary of the march. We'll begin today with someone who was not in Washington when Dr. King spoke and didn't know about the speech for weeks. Colin Powell was an army officer in the jungles of Vietnam, but his wife and son were in Birmingham. It was the summer Bull Conner had sicced police dogs on black protesters there. So as Powell fought the Viet Cong, his father-in-law was back in Alabama guarding his family.

POWELL: My wife didn't share all the details with me. She didn't want to bother me. And mail took weeks to travel to Vietnam in those days, but I really got a sense of what happened when I got back from Vietnam later that year, shortly after Kennedy was killed. And I realized what was going on in the country. And as a soldier, I couldn't participate in this. I could just watch it. And as I watched it unfold, I said, you know, this is a time for America to live up to its creed. And this is the time for us to understand that segregation and Jim Crowe-ism, and these awful laws are not just a burden for African-Americans, they are a burden for all Americans. America is carrying this horrible weight on its shoulder that we at one time hoped would be relieved by the Civil War. But the Civil War didn't do it, not withstanding President Lincoln's desires before he was assassinated when he talked about the rebirth of the nation, the nation of the people, for the people, by the people, but he meant all the people. But it didn't happen. And Jim Crowe and segregation came in. So we needed a new effort, a new civil war. And the leader of that war was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

SCHIEFFER: I was very interested to read in "Time" magazine in their special issue devoted to this anniversary, you said the "I Have a Dream" speech held up a mirror for all Americans to look deeply into the spirit and soul of our country. If that same mirror were held up today, what do you think it would show?

POWELL: I think it would show that enormous progress has been made. African-Americans and other minorities have moved to the top of every institution in American society, whether it's politics in the form of the president; or in the military; or in finance, or in corporate America, in media America. And so a lot has been accomplished. And we should be so proud of our accomplishments. 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 exists in certain parts of our country, that we cannot be happy until every youngster gets a quality education, regardless of where he lives or the color of his or her skin. We've got to be sure that we do everything we can to make equal opportunity in jobs and economics available to all Americans. So I would say-- and if Dr. King was here, I'm quite sure he would say-- congratulations on all the progress that has been made, but let's keep going, the dream is not fully achieved yet.

SCHIEFFER: This year, the Supreme Court voided part of the Voting Rights Act that came in 1965, the part that instructed. It said that if the States had had a history of segregation, had to get the approval of the federal government before they could make changes in their election processes. The court told the congress to update that, but congress in the state of gridlock it is now, obviously, nothing is going to happen. What did you think of the Supreme Court's decision?

POWELL: I would have preferred that they did not reach such a conclusion, but they did. And I can see why they would reach such a conclusion. The concern I have now is that many states are putting in place procedures and new legislation that in some ways makes it a little bit harder to vote. You need a photo ID. Well, you didn't need a photo ID for decades before. Is it really necessary now? And they claim that there is widespread abuse and voter fraud. But nothing documents, nothing substantiates that. There isn't widespread abuse. And so these kinds of procedures being put in place to slow the process down and make it likely that fewer Hispanics and African- Americans might vote I think are going to backfire because these people are going to come out and do what they have to do in order to vote. And I encourage that.

SCHIEFFER: Some Republicans have been behind these efforts to tighten up voter ID laws and all that sort of thing. Are they closed- minded about -- this?