Matt Berman, Brian Resnick, Matt Vasilogambros and Niraj Chokshi
July 20, 2013
President Obama made a surprise visit to the White House press room on Friday to speak about the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin case, making some of the boldest and most open remarks about race of his presidency. You can read the full remarks here .
While the president began by commending the judge in the case as “professional” and the jurors as “properly instructed,” he also spoke of the case within the much broader context of race in America.
When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said, This could’ve been my son. Another way of saying that is, Trayvon Martin could’ve been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African-American community, at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.
That history, Obama said, is especially salient to black men. “There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store—that includes me,” he said. The same goes for African-American men who have heard “locks click on the doors of cars,” or seen a woman in an elevator “clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.”