President Obama on Trayvon Martin: ‘That Could Have Been Me 35 Years Ago’

Barack Obama is the first black president of the United States of America and he’s made it his duty to never touch on the subject of racism. So you can imagine the many mouths floored when Obama spoke on his disagreement with the verdict of the Trayvon Martin case.

Since George Zimmerman was acquitted for killing an unarmed black teen, the president released a short statement not justifying, but acknowledging the verdict. However yesterday (July 19) during an impromptu press conference, Obama finally addressed the elephant in the room.

“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” he said in relation to the pain the black community is feeling. “The African- American community is  looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history 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. And there are very few AA men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me,” the president said as he spoke on his experiences as a black man in America.

In a less-than-twenty-minutes speech, he continued to touch on racial disparities like black on black crime and controversial laws like ‘Stand Your Ground.’

“The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws. Somebody like Trayvon Martin was probably statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else. I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?”

The full speech is eloquently compelling. There will be backlash, but we are grateful that he addressed these issues.

Press play to listen to his speech and tell us your thoughts.