Nightly News   |  July 19, 2013

Obama changes the conversation about Trayvon Martin

One of the reasons Obama’s speech on Friday was so notable was because it was arguably the most personal Obama has ever gotten on the issue of race. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>>> joy reed is here with us tonight in the studio. she's a lot of things, an msnbc contributor, managing editor of our african-american-centric website, the grio and a columnist for the " miami herald " and a mother they've children. joy, what happened today? what did we witness there?

>> you know it was extraordinary. because as kristen said, it was not expected we understood that the president felt deeply and personally about the trayvon martin case last year when he said that trayvon could have been his son. i think it was actual lay bigger deal for him to say that trayvon could have been him. the experience that so many african-americans have, whether it's african-american men or their mothers or their wives, is this notion that you can do all the right things, you can be smart, you can be capable, you can speak well, you can do everything right, and everything from not being able to catch a cab, to being second-guessed when you walk through a store and followed around, that these experiences are shared experiences for african-americans, up to and including the president of the united states , i think that's a huge, you can't underestimate how big that is.

>> kristen mention ed the second-term president the second-term presidency. everything about the presidency, ris has been a subdetection to all of it. from the tea party which saw differently the obama bailout of the auto industry , to him being called a liar to the well of the congress to him having to show his birth certificate, there's been a subtext of race around this president that's made it kif difficult for him to directly address race issues. as the case when henry lewis gates was arrested for trying to get into his own home, the blow-back has been intense. i think the president was brave to step out and the fact that it was extemporaneous and deeply personal, it was foreign for him and the whole country.