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article imageObama: Trayvon Martin 'could have been me'

By Abdul Kuddus     Jul 20, 2013 in World
Florida - President Obama, in an impromptu appearance at the White House press room, compared himself to 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Friday.
Following the acquittal of a Hispanic man in the shooting death of an African-American teen, Obama made his first extensive comments on the case. This time, he spoke in personal terms about his own experience of being black in America.
Martin was shot and killed in Florida last year in a case that engaged millions of Americans and sparked serious debate on the issue of race relations in the US.
"Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago," the president said in the White House press room.
While Obama didn't critique on last Saturday's acquittal of George Zimmerman, but he tried to contextualize the situation through the eyes of black Americans, saying that their experiences and America’s history with race inform how many view what happened to Mr. Martin.
He shared his own experiences of being racially profiled in the past, such as being followed while shopping.
Mr. Obama said:
"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 happens to me—at least before I was a senator."
He added:
"That all contributes to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different."
Calling for "soul-searching" from US citizens on the issue of racial profiling, Obama sounded optimistic that race relations were improving with each generation.
Trayvon Martin’s parents later issued a statement saying they were "deeply honoured and moved" by Obama's comments.
They said:
"President Obama sees himself in Trayvon and identifies with him. This is a beautiful tribute to our boy. We seek a future when a child can walk down the street and not worry that others see him as dangerous because of the colour of his skin or the clothes on his back."
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