When you're dealing with something that later gets deemed "The Trial of the Century," it's only natural for public figures to voice an opinion on the outcome. Such is the case of former President Bill Clinton, who weighed in on the O.J. Simpson verdict once the trial was over and Simpson had been found not guilty of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. This is a topic which will be covered in detail, I'm sure, during The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story finale this Tuesday night. And while opinions about the trial vary even to this day, Clinton's remarks served a very important purpose and proved to be just what Americans needed to hear at the time.
"The only people who heard all the evidence were the people who were sitting in the jury box," Clinton remarked during a meeting with congressional leaders shortly after the Simpson verdict was announced. "Civil trials and criminal trials are very different, in different ways, so I have nothing to add to that. I respect the jury verdict." But it did bring a major issue to the forefront of President Clinton's mind and prompted him to advocate for racial unity in the country.
"In terms of the way Americans see the world differently, generally, based on their race, that troubles me," Clinton stated. "I think the only answer to that is for us to spend more time listening to each other and try to put ourselves in each others shoes and understand why we see the world in different ways and keep trying to overcome that." You can watch Clinton's full statement in the video below:
Regardless of what Clinton may have personally thought about the verdict, it was admirable to see him use his position as a powerful, political figure in such a positive way and attempt to make something good come out of this highly publicized trial. Words, in general, can become powerful motivators and allow people to open up a dialogue. But when the President of the United States is part of that dialogue, then real steps can be taken to change the way things are.
The same can be said for on-going issues today. When the president or a celebrity speaks up about something, people listen and take notice. It may have been a media spectacle, but at least Simpson’s opened the public's eyes to serious racial issues and motivated people like Clinton to try and do something about it.