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Race In America Today

The president, the country and race after Trayvon Martin

The country’s first black president has not made a big deal, regularly, about race. In office, his most important statement on the subject has arguably been just being there — the nation’s leader, African-American, with his strong African-American family at his side.

But on Friday, President Obama spoke directly, personally, to race in the aftermath of the George Zimmerman verdict in the killing of Trayvon Martin. That, said the President of the United States, “could have been me 35 years ago.” Let’s think again, he said. Deeper.

This hour, On Point: The president, the country and race after Trayvon Martin.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Touré, writer and cultural critic. Co-host of MSNBC’s The Cycle. (@Toure)

Laura Washington, columnist at the Chicago Sun Times. (@MediaDervish)

Bryan Monroe, editor of CNNPolitics.com. (@BryanMonroeCNN)

From Tom’s Reading List

TIME: Stopping The Slaughter: “Every death is a tragedy in this nation, whether in Pennsylvania, Connecticut or Florida. We all have suffered a great tragedy with the death of Trayvon Martin. But Trayvon’s story is only the latest in our epidemic of violence, compounded by race, that must be addressed in America.”

New York Times: President Offers A Personal Take On Race In U.S.: “After days of angry protests and mounting public pressure, President Obama summoned five of his closest advisers to the Oval Office on Thursday evening. It was time, he told them, for him to speak to the nation about the Trayvon Martin verdict, and he had a pretty good idea what he wanted to say.”

National Journal: President Obama’s Other Major Speech On Race In America: “In March, 2008, Senator Barack Obama was under fire. Video of the senator’s former pastor and supposed ‘spiritual mentor’ Reverend Jeremiah Wright making a series of racially controversial statements was making the rounds, and threatening to derail his presidential campaign. So the senator decided to give a speech in Philadelphia about race in the United States. It proved to be one of the most memorable moments of not just 2008, but of Obama’s political career.”

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