Obama: "Trayvon Martin could have been me"

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by KGW Staff and Associated Press

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Posted on July 19, 2013 at 10:57 AM

Updated Saturday, Jul 20 at 9:05 AM

Do you agree with the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial?

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says black Americans feel pain after the Trayvon Martin verdict because of a "history that doesn't go away."

Obama spoke in a surprise appearance Friday at the White House, his first time appearing for a statement on the verdict since it was issued last Saturday.

During the appearance, Obama discussed race relations and the experience of being a black man in America. 

"There are very few African American men who haven't had the experience of being followed in a department store. That includes me," the President said.

Watch the full speech here:

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Obama says African Americans view the case through "a set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away."

He says black men in particular are used to being feared and blacks see a disparity in the way they are treated under the law.

He says he also has heard drivers lock their doors and has seen women clutch their purses tighter when he walked by, before he was elected to public office.

"When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said this could have been my son," Obama said. "Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me."