Caption:SCOTTSDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 5: Dr. Ben Carson speaks as the keynote speaker at the Wake Up America gala Event September 5, 2014 at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Carson is a retired neurosurgeon who would run in the 2016 Presidential campaign as a conservative for the Tea Party. (Photo by Laura Segall/Getty Images)
Who is Ben Carson?
02:02 - Source: CNN

Watch “Wolf” on Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET for Wolf Blitzer’s interview with Ben Carson.

Story highlights

Ben Carson is a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate

Carson placed second in a CNN poll Tuesday

Carson will decide whether he will run by May

Washington CNN  — 

It was 1965 and Ben Carson, an eighth-grade black student in Detroit, was stunned.

Unable to control her anger, his teacher lashed out at white students for failing to outperform Carson, who had just been awarded the class’s highest academic achievement. In an interview last week, Carson described the teacher as being from a time when some people thought “how can a black person ever intellectually do better than a white person?”

“To her, it was the most abnormal thing that ever happened in the history of the world,” Carson said. “To me, I was determined I would show her.”

Nearly 50 years later, Carson – relatively unknown outside of conservative circles – is on the verge of becoming a political phenomenon. He placed second behind Mitt Romney in a CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday asking Republicans about their preferred presidential nominee in 2016. Though his support only reached 10% in the poll, Carson outpaced more high-profile potential presidential contenders like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

He’s gaining traction as an African-American in a party that is struggling to connect with minority communities. But Carson is remarkably checked when asked about how, to this day, he deals with racism.

“If somebody has a problem with the way that I look, more power to them,” Carson said. “Let them sit and stew in it. I just got so many more important things to do than to deal with that.”

That doesn’t mean he’s silent on the racial issues of the day. After last week’s violence in Ferguson, Missouri, Carson slammed President Barack Obama for contributing to poor race relations.

“I actually believe that things were better before this president was elected,” he