"You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago,” he said.
“And when you think about why, in the African-American community at least, there's a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it's important to recognise that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away.
“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. That includes me.
“There are probably very few African-American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me - at least before I was a senator.
“There are very few African-Americans who haven't had 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.
“And you know, I don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it's inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.”
Obama noted that the black American community was painfully aware that historically criminal laws have not been applied fairly across the races, but acknowledged that young black Americans were disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violent crime in America.