O.J. Simpson 20 years later.
Do you remember where you were for that infamous bronco chase?
150 million people watched it on television.
To add perspective, the entire population of the United States then was 266-million.
At the time your reaction to that verdict, more than likely, depended on the color of your skin.
For the most part blacks cheered and whites were devastated.
In my newsroom in New York City, blacks cheered, many whites cried.
A CNN poll back then in 1994 showed that 68 percent of whites thought the murder charges against O.J. Simpson were true; only 24 percent of blacks did.
It was truly a country divided along racial lines.
But fast forward 20 years to the present and you’ll find that African Americans have shifted their view when it comes to Simpson’s guilt.
Remember it was just 24 percent who thought he was guilty then, now 53 percent believes he is guilty.
While the evidence shows that blacks and whites, 54 and 67 percent respectively, believes race relations are progressing in the right direction, there’s plenty of evidence that shows we still have a long way to go.
According to CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin time brings about calmer and cooler heads who have analyzed the evidence with less bias.
Yale Galanter, O.J.’s former attorney says we’ve seen a lot of missteps by O.J. since the verdict, like his ill-conceived book titled, “if I did it,” and other run-ins with the law including the theft of his own football memorabilia which he is serving time for now.
In other words, we have come to see that O.J. was not the role model or saint many wanted him to be.
Similarly, it is the case with the George Zimmerman.
Since his not guilty verdict Zimmerman’s run-ins with the law and ill-timed photo at a gun factory has made some reconsider his innocence.
This O.J. anniversary is a good flash point to help us gauge just how far we’ve come in this country when it comes to race, bias and perception.
While the evidence shows that blacks and whites, 54 and 67 percent respectively, believe race relations are progressing in the right direction, there’s plenty of evidence that shows we still have a long way to go.