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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid