The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People welcomed President Obama’s comments about Trayvon Martin and race in America on Friday.
“This is a powerful moment. That our president has been profiled should encourage all Americans to think deeply about both the depth of this problem and how our country moves beyond it,” NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said in a statement.
During a surprise appearance at the White House press briefing Friday, Obama spoke about the Martin case, noting that “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” and more broadly about race in America.
“I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away,” Obama said. “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.”
Jealous noted that Obama’s comments dealing with the looking at state and local laws to see “if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case” were an important development.
“The President’s call to examine the role state laws, including Stand Your Ground, play in compounding racial profiling is especially welcome,” Jealous added. “Let us move forward to bring justice for Trayvon Martin and toward a more united nation that is truly safe for all Americans.”
Since Martin shooter George Zimmerman was acquitted last Saturday, the NAACP has been circulating a petition calling on the Justice Department to file federal charges against Zimmerman, including civil rights charges.
The petition gathered more than one million signatures in less than three days.