King "would be raging about poverty. He would be raging about inequalities in our society. He would be raging about the fact that we are not educating all of our youngsters, especially all of our African-American youngsters," Powell said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
"And he would also be on the world stage talking about poverty and inequality throughout the world. He was a man who transcended the African-American experience … and he became an icon for the rest of the world."
Powell was a key figure in the building of the memorial honoring the U.S. civil rights leader that was to have been dedicated Sunday in Washington but was postponed because of Hurricane Irene. The dedication would have coincided with the 48th anniversary of King's "I have a dream" speech.
King represented "the second revolution" for the United States, Powell said.
"It was time now to meet the dream set out for us by our founding fathers. And what Dr. King did was not just free African-Americans, he freed all of America," Powell said. "He caused us, through his sacrifice and his service. He caused America to look at a mirror of itself."
King also would be disappointed with the toxic atmosphere in Washington, Powell said.
"I mean, we have such a lack of civility in our political life now. We are fixed on ideological polls and we seem unable to come together," Powell said. "But ultimately you have to compromise with each other in order to reach a consensus just to keep the country moving forward."
If the "polar opposites" of the political spectrum fail to move, "the country will not be moving forward and we have got to find a way to get through this and it's going to happen when the American people say knock it off, stop it."