Obama: "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago"

In a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room, President Obama spoke at length Friday about the impact of the George Zimmerman trial and the death of black teenager Trayvon Martin, talking of his own personal experiences with racism, saying it would be "useful" to review "stand your ground" laws and to renew efforts aimed at boosting the self-esteem of black boys.

President Oama pauses as he speaks to reporters in the Brady Press Briefing room of the White House in Washington, Friday, July 19, 2013. Obama says black Americans feel pain after the Trayvon Martin verdict because of a "history that doesn't go away."  Associated Press
Associated Press
President Oama pauses as he speaks to reporters in the Brady Press Briefing room of the White House in Washington, Friday, July 19, 2013. Obama says black Americans feel pain after the Trayvon Martin verdict because of a "history that doesn't go away."

After a week of reporters questioning why Mr. Obama hadn't spoken on television about the case, the president appeared in the White House press briefing room unannounced and discussed his reaction to the verdict and observing that Trayvon Martin "could have been me 35 years ago."

The president, speaking off the cuff, said he is still "bouncing around" ideas with his staff, but he proposed several approaches, including a study of "stand your ground" laws that allow people to use deadly force when they feel threatened.

"It'd be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies like we saw in the Florida case," Mr. Obama said.

The president also said Americans need to examine whether racial bias was a factor in the episode.

"If Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?" Mr. Obama asked. "And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting" Mr. Zimmerman?

A Florida jury on Saturday found Mr. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, not guilty of second-degree murder in the February 2012 shooting of the teen. The Justice Department is reviewing whether the teenager's civil rights were violated.

The president spoke in unusually personal terms about Trayvon Martin's death and the experiences of blacks such as himself who have been profiled because of their skin color. He said black Americans bring a special history and set of circumstances in judging the Florida trial and its verdict.

"When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son," Mr. Obama said. "Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have 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 -- that doesn't go away."

Mr. Obama added, "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."

"And there are very few African-American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of car," the president said. "That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often."

Mr. Obama said he didn't want to "exaggerate" those feelings of black citizens.

"But those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it's inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear," he said.

Immediately after the Feb. 2012 shooting, Mr. Obama spoke out about the case, saying if he had a son, the boy might have looked like Travyon Martin. On Friday, the president said communities should do more to help black boys in their upbringing to ensure they succeed.

He said the country needs to think about "how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys?"

"There are a lot of kids out there who need help, who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement," Mr. Obama said, adding that America needs to give them "a sense that their country cares about them."

Mr. Obama said black Americans "are not naive" about the difficulties they face.

"Folks understand the challenges that exist for African-American boys," he said. "But they get frustrated if they feel there's no context for it, and context is being denied."

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Dixieman
14961
Points
Dixieman 07/19/13 - 05:13 pm
12
3
Complete jerk.

While there are a few good parts - about respecting the jury's verdict and keeping protests non-violent - overall this is terrible and racially inflammatory and generally useless.
Roll on, 2016!!

specsta
6505
Points
specsta 07/19/13 - 08:18 pm
3
15
Healing

Thank you, President Obama.

Your comments will help to heal some wounds, created by an unjust and racist society, in our young black men.

Well done.

specsta
6505
Points
specsta 07/19/13 - 08:23 pm
3
13
@dixieman

Please tell me what is so terrible about our President reflecting on his own battles against racism as a young man growing up.

Perhaps you should watch the entire remarks.
http://youtu.be/MHBdZWbncXI

Dixieman
14961
Points
Dixieman 07/20/13 - 03:34 am
9
0
specsta

I watched the entire video and then read the entire transcript before posting.

nocnoc
42680
Points
nocnoc 07/20/13 - 06:59 am
7
1
What the heck?

He is the President of the US of America.
Such comments are stupid.
Or they are being made to further incite the populous.

If blood flows come election I hope everyone remembers the party that inflamed those into criminal action.

Provided we are allowed to have an election.

seenitB4
87304
Points
seenitB4 07/20/13 - 07:04 am
10
1
Antonio West

The name of the baby shot in the head in Brunswick Ga.....talk about HIS DEATH Mr Presodent....find out WHY he was killed Mr President & then you will actually find the reasons for Zimm behaving the way he did MR PRESIDENT!!!

If this doesn't stir the REPS to get out & vote --NOTHING WILL!

nocnoc
42680
Points
nocnoc 07/20/13 - 08:17 am
7
1
35 years ago

Where was Barry?

2013-35=1978

Do A WIKI Lookup?

In 1971, Obama returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents, Madelyn and Stanley Dunham, and with the aid of a scholarship attended Punahou School, a private http://www.punahou.edu/page.cfm?p=1538 preparatory school, from fifth grade until his graduation from high school in 1979.

So 35 years ago he was in Hawaii in a preparatory school, he wasn't even stateside. He attended what many of us would call a Grooming school aka Elitist Training & Education.

When he did come stateside?
Obama moved to Los Angeles in 1979 to attend Occidental College.
Another private college located in the historic Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagle_Rock,_Los_Angeles

So where did he have these Black experiences he speaks of? Because the facts say he was raised and lived WHITE UPPER CLASS from day one?

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 07/20/13 - 07:22 am
0
0
Obama profiled as an anarchist, thief, lying under oathe, etc.
Unpublished

Obama profiled as an anarchist, thief, lying under oathe, etc.

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 07/20/13 - 07:24 am
0
0
"Obama, Funded by Whites, A Way of Life". Coming Soon!!!
Unpublished

"Obama, Funded by Whites, A Way of Life". Coming Soon!!!

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 07/20/13 - 07:26 am
0
0
Obama, poster child for mixed race marriage. Hate & alienation
Unpublished

Obama, poster child for mixed race marriage. Hate & alienation

nocnoc
42680
Points
nocnoc 07/20/13 - 08:17 am
6
1
Perfect timing - Mr. President

less than 24 hours before BIG AL's Nationwide protests.

The Following is Sarcasm for you Kool-Aide Drinkers
The President of the US of A, just happened to make sudden appearance at a White House News Briefing and share this race based impromptu personal experience.

I am sure the 2 are not related and have nothing to do with the upcoming Senate & HR seat elections.

The question becomes can he govern as the President of the US of America or has he reverted to a Community Organizer for protests?

bigj706
1182
Points
bigj706 07/20/13 - 08:13 am
3
4
Its funny how you know his

Its funny how you know his life when he had to deal with racism. I didn't know we had so many psychics on one website amazing. Also whats the cause of getting everyone in a uproar if its true what is it to you. I been profiled plenty of times and Im not talking 60s and 70s I'm talking 80s, 90s, and 2000s, just turning a blind eye just to make you comfortable isn't going to fix anything, and if your not or ever profiled I'm not talking to you so you don't have go into all the " I never done that blah blah blah". Its time to fix things not just be window watchers and complain as I notice so many on here do. What about Chicago, what about a lady and her baby blah blah well go up and do something its a everyone problem not just one race it must be nice just to sit and judge from your windows and computer screens.

justthefacts
21926
Points
justthefacts 07/20/13 - 08:16 am
5
1
Well

The prez should have worn a hoodie.

InChristLove
22473
Points
InChristLove 07/20/13 - 08:41 am
8
3
When Africian Americans step

When Africian Americans step up and admit that the reason young black men are profiled and because most crimes are committed by young black men and do something about the young black men of their race committing those crimes, then the profiling will cease.

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 07/20/13 - 08:58 am
2
0
Too Soon

In today's Chronicle print edition is Charles Krauthammer's weekly column. In it he praises President Obama's restraint after the verdict.

Krauthammer

But the column was written two days ago, just before Obama came out with his inane "could have been me" statement. I wonder what Krauthammer thinks now?

Speaking of "It Could Have Been Me," wasn't there a Flo and Eddie song of that title some years back?

freeradical
1075
Points
freeradical 07/20/13 - 09:28 am
5
0
"ME ! " , "ME ! " . "ME ! " , "ME ! " , "ME !" ," ME !" , "

" ME ! " , " ME ! " , " ME ! " , " ME ! " , " ME !" , " ME ! " , " ME ! " .

Oh, and by the way Travon could have been " MY ! " , " MY !" , " MY !" ,

" MY ! " , " MY !" , " MY !" , " MY !" , " MY ! ", " MY !" , " MY !" , " MY ! ",

son.

bigj706
1182
Points
bigj706 07/20/13 - 10:04 am
2
2
InChristLove what are you

InChristLove what are you going to do? I Know Christ himself would go talk about it and intervened even though he isn't the same color. Even if they all admit it what will it fix if you don't involve everyone.

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 07/20/13 - 10:28 am
2
0
Narcissism

Yep, FreeRadical, he's about as narcissistic as they come.

InChristLove
22473
Points
InChristLove 07/20/13 - 10:54 am
3
2
Well bigj706, you and I are

Well bigj706, you and I are not Christ so what he would have done or can do, can not be compared to what we can do. We can all sit around and talk about it but in my opinion what most of the African American society want to do is talk and complain about what is wrong but I fail to see much action taking place. We can all get involved and suggest solutions but ultimately the black man will always feel like the white man is trying to "boss" him.

bigj706
1182
Points
bigj706 07/20/13 - 11:24 am
2
2
Well InChristlove I am one of

Well InChristlove I am one of the black men who wants to improve the community not just black but all because it is all ours and most don't sit around and complain your just stating what you see on Tv that not the majority.

countyman
20129
Points
countyman 07/20/13 - 12:10 pm
6
1
Racism still exist

ICL.. Black men don't have the number 1 percentage for every crime stat.

All of the black men I know realize the challenges facing some youth, but are frustrated because some people continue to think everything is fine in terms of race.

People who mention the crime, graduation rates, etc. They simply can't leave out the prejudice or racism which helped contribute to those stats. There's racist or prejudice cops, prosecutors, jury's, and judges. Many studies have shown that white men with criminal records are likely to be hired before black men without one. Look at previous disparity in the number of years in prison when comparing the drugs crack vs cocaine. When do people discriminate against white sounding names on job applications?

Let's not act like the white and black man are on the same even playing field.

I'm sure black kids are doing marijuana, lean, and alcohol during their high school years. The sad part is the black men are going to jail more when they decide to participate in illegal activity. The white kids continue to use those drugs, meth, cocaine, pills, etc but don't get pulled over or searched in the neighborhood.

chascushman
6653
Points
chascushman 07/20/13 - 03:02 pm
3
2
"So where did he have these
Unpublished

"So where did he have these Black experiences he speaks of? Because the facts say he was raised and lived WHITE UPPER CLASS from day one?"
nocnoc, he didn't have the 'Black experience' but was taught it by his mentor for about 8 years. His mentor was Franklin Marshall Davis a racist, child molester, communist from Chicago before moving to Hawaii to head up the communist party. Davis smoked dope and played chess with Obama's grandfather.

InChristLove
22473
Points
InChristLove 07/20/13 - 03:05 pm
3
2
countyman, I never said black

countyman, I never said black men have the number 1 percentage for every crime stat. What I said was "young black men are being profiled because most crimes are committed by young black men"

Bigj706, I commend you for wanting to improve the community and that is my hope also but please don't patronize me. I hear the complaints with my own ears and read about them every day. Men as yourself are few and far between so go blow that smoke somewhere else. How many years must we discuss it until changes are made. I've heard it for 40 years now and race relations do not seem to be any better today than they were 30 years ago. Be honest with yourself and admit, a large majority of Blacks still blame Whites, and a majority of Whites just want to move on. The victim mentality is getting old.

itsanotherday1
43278
Points
itsanotherday1 07/20/13 - 03:40 pm
2
1
I wasn't insulted about

what he said inre how and why black people tend to see things through tinted glasses. I think if each one of us would try on those shoes we might understand; not necessarily agree or condone, but understand how the tilted look at things come about.

This is true: "And it's inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear," he said.

That very statement is why people hit the door locks, clutch their purses a little tighter, view people in hoodies with suspicion, etc. Their EXPERIENCE teaches them it is the prudent thing to do.

bigj706
1182
Points
bigj706 07/20/13 - 03:52 pm
2
0
Like I said before what you

Like I said before what you see on tv and read don't represent a whole race. or even a majority no smoke just just trying to knock off those blinders and that judgmental mentality.

internationallyunknown
4211
Points
internationallyunknown 07/20/13 - 04:21 pm
0
1
RACISIM = your perspective on

RACISIM = your perspective on history.

Fiat_Lux
15429
Points
Fiat_Lux 07/20/13 - 04:29 pm
1
1
This guy's gotta' go,

sooner rather than later. He's killing us. All of us.

Just wait til there's not enough money to support the droolers who live off Obummer promises and are seduced by his lies. When they get hungry, they won't be going after Obummerr and all the other lying thieves; they'll swarming the streets of your neighborhoods.

jimmymac
39881
Points
jimmymac 07/20/13 - 04:42 pm
3
1
POTUS
Unpublished

I truly believe history will judge Obama as the most polarizing president in America. He had a real opportunity to open honest dialog concerning race relations in this country but he has shown himself to be only a black president. His policies are destroying this once great nation due to his inept leadership. Every chance he had to shown true leadership he chose the path of racial intolerance he decries exists it America. He has surrounded himself his entire life with racial activists who have delivered a crushing blow to race relations that it may never recover from. Shame on him for inflaming this situation instead of showing true leadership. He should give back his law degree because he obviously doesn't understand the countries legal system.

chascushman
6653
Points
chascushman 07/20/13 - 05:31 pm
1
1
His policies are destroying
Unpublished

His policies are destroying this once great nation due to his inept leadership."
jimmymac, that is what he really is. He is a racist that hates everything this country is based on. I'm not sure when the ignorant people will wake up but it might be too late when they do.

Darby
25694
Points
Darby 07/21/13 - 12:10 am
3
1
"Please tell me what is so terrible about our

President reflecting on his own battles against racism as a young man growing up. Perhaps you should watch the entire remarks."

.
I did watch the entire thing. It was a disgusting bit of self aggrandizement, peppered through and through with lies. That pampered phony makes it up as he goes along.

That's how he got to where he is now. He's the quintessential con artist. You can fawn over him all you want.

Anyone who's been watching for the last five or six years knows better.

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