News / USA

    Obama Urges 'Soul-Searching' After Trayvon Martin Shooting

    Obama Addresses Race Issues After Zimmerman Verdicti
    X
    July 20, 2013 2:26 AM
    President Barack Obama has spoken publicly for the first time about the verdict in the racially-divisive trial of George Zimmerman, a white man who was acquitted on July 13 of killing Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American teenager, last year. VOA’s Kent Klein reports from the White House.
    VOA'S Kent Klein reports from the White House
    VOA News
    U.S. President Barack Obama has called on Americans to do some "soul-searching" in response to the not guilty verdict in the trial of a man who shot an unarmed African-American teenager to death.

    In a surprise appearance Friday before reporters at the White House, Obama said he is considering steps the nation might take to help it move in a positive direction in the wake of the racially charged case.

    The teen, Trayvon Martin, was killed in February of last year after a struggle with a Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was acquitted this month of murder charges.

    The acquittal has spawned protests across the country, and the Justice Department is reviewing whether federal charges should be brought against Zimmerman.
    The president said when thinking about the pain involved, it is important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at the issue through a set of experiences and a "history that doesn't go away."  

    Obama noted that when the shooting happened, he said Trayvon could have been his son. He said Friday another way of saying that is that Trayvon Martin could have been him, 35 years ago.

    "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," said Obama. "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 cars. That happen[ed] 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. And 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."

    The president said he is looking into ways to examine state and local laws to see if they encourage confrontations like the one in Florida. He said it also would be productive for federal, state and local governments to work with law enforcement on training to address racial profiling and reduce mistrust in the system.  

    He said the nation needs to think about how to bolster and reinforce African-American boys, who, he said, are disproportionately victims and perpetrators of violence. He said they need help to feel they are a full part of society and have pathways to success.

    Obama said families, churches and workplaces might be the best places for honest discussions on race, but he said it is not particularly productive to have politicians lead those talks. He also encouraged individuals to ask themselves if they doing their best to eliminate bias in themselves.

    Quoting deceased anti-discrimination leader Martin Luther King, he said Americans should judge one another not on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character.

    Obama, the first black American president, also noted positive changes in the country, saying he does not want the nation to lose sight of the fact that "things are getting better."

    Describing his own daughters and their interactions with friends, he said, "They're better than we are. They're better than we were."

    Watch the full statement:

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: cu bui from: 2514 hikes lane
    July 20, 2013 12:11 PM
    I am a kid. My dad teaches teach me this lesson: When you go out and there is a guy following you. You can't drive him away, you can't get off him. Don't be upset. If he moves ' HIS GROUND' face to face with you. With any he says, any he does, Don't touch him. Anyway, if you hit him, he will shoot you dead. After you die, he is alive to say that you are a suspicious person. He kill under " STAND YOUR GROUND LAW". You die, a corpse can't tell.
    I don't understand what the " STAND YOUR GROUND LAW" is. May anybody help me understand this LAW? thanks.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora