The president said the nation needs to look for ways to move forward. His words resonated with the African-American community in Oakland Friday.
There have been a number of marches and rallies in the city, but I think it was incredibly important for the African-American community in Oakland to hear the president say I get it, I've been there before.
When Trayvon Martin was first shot, President Obama said that could have been his son. On Friday, the president told reporters he's now looking at it in a different way.
"Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago," he said.
A picture of what the president looked like years ago seems to validate his argument. It was a message of acknowledgment to the African-American community and a plea for understanding to all Americans.
"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," Pres. Obama said.
On Friday afternoon, a group of kids from Oakland Freedom School wanted to express themselves by marching to city hall. Their counselors say it has been hard for them to understand the verdict.
"A lot of them have been deeply affected by this and what the president said, I mean can definitely relate," said Khabral Muhammad with Oakland Freedom School. "It could have happened to you 35 years ago."
"We need our rights, we deserve our rights and what we went through and our ancestors have been through," student Sandrea Andrews said.
"We as black people are always being treated unfairly and we're just trying to make a difference in ourselves, and in our country, our community, and our world," student Desmond Pare said.
President Obama also made a point to say statistically someone like Trayvon Martin was more likely to be shot by a peer than by somebody else.
Just a few blocks from city hall, dozens attended a funeral for a 23-year-old black man shot on the streets of Oakland.
Community leaders say there is a lot of work to be done to change things around.
"More jobs, more hugs for these kids," youth leader Todd Walker said. "These kids got a lot of anger in them. A lot of these kids feel like life is over for them and all they can do be a Trayvon Martin."
The president expressed some optimism. He said we're becoming a more perfect union. We are not a perfect union, but we are becoming a more perfect union.