WATCH: Obama: 'Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago'

A powerful address on race and justice in America

President Obama
(Image credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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President Obama on Friday delivered emotional, impromptu remarks on the Trayvon Martin case and on race in America, saying, "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago."

"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," he added. "That includes me."

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In a surprise appearance during the daily White House briefing, Obama spoke at length and openly about how young African American men are often "painted with a broad brush," and how the use of dubious statistics "as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain." (A Washington Post columnist drew accusations of racism earlier this week over his article claiming crime statistics meant it was reasonable to assume black men in hoodies were criminals.)

While saying that the jury's ruling should not be questioned because "that’s how our system works," Obama said so-called stand your ground laws, like the one that helped justify the fatal shooting of the unarmed Martin by George Zimmerman, should be more closely examined.

"For those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these 'stand your ground' laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?" he said. "And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?"

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Jon Terbush

Jon Terbush is an associate editor at covering politics, sports, and other things he finds interesting. He has previously written for Talking Points Memo, Raw Story, and Business Insider.