Obama's Remarks On Trayvon Reflect Everyday Struggle

Since the acquittal of George Zimmerman on July 13 for the murder of Trayvon Martin, protesters around the country have been chanting, "No justice no peace," and carrying signs that say, "I am Trayvon Martin." On Friday, the president made a surprise appearance in the White House press briefing room and said Trayvon could have been him 35 years ago.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

This is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

Since last week's acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, there have been many protests expressing anger at the verdict. Today in New York City and across the country, they continue.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I am...

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: I am...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: ...Trayvon Martin.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: ...Trayvon Martin.

LYDEN: Yesterday, President Obama publicly reacted to the verdict for the first time. Shereen Marisol Meraji of NPR's Code Switch team has more.

SHEREEN MARISOL MERAJI, BYLINE: Devin Woods lives with his dad in the Nickerson Gardens housing projects in South Los Angeles. At 13, he's well aware that life is not going to be easy.

DEVIN WOODS: You know, everybody gets killed around here. And we're all just like Trayvon, and it's just that it's just without the media and stuff like that.

MERAJI: Yesterday, President Barack Obama spoke to the media and said something similar.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me.

MERAJI: The nation's first black president talked about what it's like to be a black man in America. People locking their car doors when you pass, women clutching their purses when you step into an elevator. He talked about how poverty, dysfunction and violence in black neighborhoods can be traced back to a very difficult history in this country, all to make a point: There's context for why black people are upset about Trayvon Martin. And understanding that might help us all move forward.

OBAMA: Beyond protester vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do?

MERAJI: The president talked about legislation to curb racial profiling. He said we could look at laws like Stand Your Ground and see who they protect and who they don't. And he said we need to find a way to show African-American boys that their country cares about them.

Back at the Nickerson Garden housing projects in South L.A., 13-year-old Devin Woods has a suggestion.

WOODS: We need to - what's the word - strengthen our judicial system so that we can depend on it more.

MERAJI: Shereen Marisol Meraji, NPR News.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: