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Politics & Government

Obama's Remarks On Trayvon Reflect Everyday Struggle


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: ...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. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.