Obama: Trayvon 'Could Have Been Me'

All black men know the feeling, says the president

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 19, 2013 1:36 PM CDT

(Newser) – When the Trayvon Martin shooting took place, President Obama made headlines by saying that Trayvon could have been his son. Today, he took it further: "Trayvon could have been me 35 years ago," he said during an unscheduled stop in the White House briefing room to talk about the case. Some highlights, as noted by USA Today, the New York Times, and the Washington Post:

  • “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. 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.”

  • "I don’t want to exaggerate this, 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.”
  • But: "I don't want us to lose sight of the fact that things are getting better."
  • Referring to his daughters and their generation: "They’re better than we are, they’re better than we were, on these issues," and that should instill confidence that things will change.
  • He asked all Americans to do some "soul-searching," asking themselves, "Am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can."

President Obama pauses as he speaks about Trayvon Martin.
President Obama pauses as he speaks about Trayvon Martin.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Obama speaks about Travyon Martin today.
President Obama speaks about Travyon Martin today.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Obama speaks about Trayvon Martin today.
President Obama speaks about Trayvon Martin today.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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