The President made a powerful statement on race in America today. In the wake of the tragic Zimmerman verdict,
Mr. Obama eloquently rebutted those â€” like Republican Congressman Andy Harris with his dismissive â€œget over itâ€ remark on Tuesday â€” who said that the verdict should have ended discussion of the case, especially talk about race and gun laws.
â€œTrayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,â€ Mr. Obama said, adding that â€œitâ€™s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesnâ€™t go away.â€
He said there are â€œvery few African-American men in this country who havenâ€™t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department storeâ€ or â€œthe 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.â€
â€œThat,â€ he said, â€œincludes me.â€
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.