The President made a powerful statement on race in America today. In the wake of the tragic Zimmerman verdict,
Mr. Obama eloquently rebutted those — like Republican Congressman Andy Harris with his dismissive “get over it” remark on Tuesday — who said that the verdict should have ended discussion of the case, especially talk about race and gun laws.
“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” Mr. Obama said, adding that “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.”
He 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” or “the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.”
“That,” he said, “includes me.”
It so happens today is the 150th anniversary of the assault on Fort Wagner by the 54th Massachusetts regiment, which you might remember was portrayed in the film Glory a few years back. The 54th Massachusetts was the first African-American regiment organized in the North to fight for the Union. The 54th suffered nearly 45 percent casualties at Fort Wagner, but gained immortality.