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President Barack Obama Speaks Out About Trayvon Martin

Aired July 19, 2013 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks. Good evening, everyone.

Tonight, President Obama breaks his silence on the Trayvon Martin verdict and calls on the country to join the conversation about race and justice, to join the journey that we are all on, he said, not yet to imperfect union but a more perfect one. The sentiment familiar the speech itself a surprise. President Obama walked into the press room just after 1:30 this afternoon taking care of a few housekeeping details then speaking freely without tell prompter. He talked for 20 deeply personal minutes.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the week, the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling. I gave a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday, but watching the debate over the course of the last week, I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.

First of all, I want to make sure that once again I send my thoughts and prayers as well as Michelle's to the family of Trayvon Martin. And to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they have dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they're going through with this. It's remarkable how they have handled it.

The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there are going to be a lot of arguments about the legal issues in the case. I will let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues. The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury has spoken, that's how our system works.

But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. 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. And when you think about why in the African-American community at least there is a lot of pain around what happened here. 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.

There are very few African American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping at a department store, that includes me. There are 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 that haven't the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breathe until she had a chance to get off. That happens often. 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.


COOPER: We will play more of President Obama's remarks shortly.

There was quick reaction from Trayvon Martin's parents in the statements. Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin write quote "we were deeply honored and moved that President Obama took the time to speak publicly and at length about our son Trayvon. What touches people is that our son, Trayvon Benjamin Martin, could have been their son. President Obama sees himself in Trayvon and identifies with him. This is a beautiful tribute to our boy."

They also applauded the president's call for dialogue and race and justice, a dialogue we are continuing tonight with Democratic strategists in Obama 2012 poster, Cornell Belcher, Joshua Dubois, President Obama's former director of the office Faith based in neighborhood partnerships, chief political correspondent Candy Crowley and BET editorial brand manager, Michaela Angela Davis.

Cornell, let me start with you because you and I had a discussion about should the president say something, will the president say something, and the kind of dammed if you do, dammed if you don't difficulty for the president in all this. First of all, what did you ever of his comments?

CORNELL BELCHER, POLLSTER, OBAMA 2012: I thought it was iconic. And you know, going back to the conversation we had, Anderson, I thought it would be important for the president. I thought at some point he would come out and talk to the hurt. And I think it was important for him to sort of explain and talk about why and put in context why after African Americans were so hurt about it.

But I also thought it was very much in line with what I, again, refer to as the Obama doctrinal race where he doesn't let off either side. I mean, he takes both -- he takes both sides, you know, the plus and minus on both sides then tries to bring together and it really was a we moment, and he talked about we must ring bias out of ourselves in a way that so giving it a positive direction. I really think this is going to be a lasting mark of this president, sort of how he's handled racial issues. COOPER: Joshua, what is really kind of an extraordinary statement and sort of surprising statement from the president, not one the press room expected to hear today and it was incredibly personal statement from this president. You were one of the president's longest serving aids. Did the personal nature of it surprise you?

JOSHUA DUBOIS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, it was surprising. I think the president's goal here was to create a bridge of empathy between himself and the rest of the country and a group of people that are too often left behind, and that's low income, young African-American men.

He didn't just want to do that with policy or politics. He wanted to do it by telling a story, telling his own personal story about people locking the doors on their cars and being followed in department stores. And so, I thought that was extraordinary that he approached it in such a personal way.

COOPER: Candy, I thought it was interesting how he -- in a way he was explaining how some people in the African American community view the Trayvon Martin situation, for those who maybe don't understand the lens through which the history and experiences through which people judge things, but it wasn't like the president's 2008 speech on race, which was an address he kind of had to give at the time. This was something he really didn't have to address. He could have let Eric Holder speak for him.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I don't know. I think pretty much he was pushed into this, and there really was a feeling the first African-American president need to talk about a trial that people saw through different prisms.

I thought what was particularly effective about his use of personal stories and we have heard a couple stories before he talked about trying to hail cabs in New York city, we talked about -- he talked about his own grandmother who he loved dearly and she was white and she talked about being afraid of young black men and that was painful for him.

I think what this was an attempt, this was sort of pushed on him, the African-American community did want him to speak out. But I thought in large part it was a way to say let me show you my prism. If you can't relate to this 17-year-old African American boy in Florida, you can relate to me because you know me and I'm your president. You elected me. And here are things that have happened to me.

So, it was like he is the prism through which he tried to show why there is so much hurt, and so much anger on the part of some at this verdict. So, I thought in that way, it was an amazing way to kind of show that prism. And I'm not sure I thought he had a choice. Sooner or later he would have to talk about it and I thought he chose it perfectly instead of the 20 second sound bites interrupted by questions, he said I won't take questions. Here is what's on my mind.

COOPER: What's interesting, Michaela too, because I actually -- I read his statement before I actually saw it and I assumed it was written out because the way he spoke was frankly very impressive to be able to speak extemporaneously for that amount of time on such an issue of nuance.

MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, IMAGE ACTIVIST: Yes and no. And I don't think he was pressed into it. I think he was part of it. I think --

COOPER: You felt it?

DAVIS: Yes. He talked not only about empathy but equality. And I think that's really important to note. That this was not just about racism. This is about him saying not only I empathize with Trayvon Martin. I am Trayvon Martin. I'm equal. We are all equal.

So, I think having a repetitious conversation about equality is really important, but for the most powerful man, arguably, in the world to not only acknowledge the pain, but share the pain of the community is really profound. And I don't think he did have to do it. Because politically, it was really risky, you know, personally he was compelled to do it. So, in this moment, I feel like he was connecting us not saying I'm the president, I'm, you know, I'm the leader so I have to do this because everyone is marching. I think he was compelled. Like this was a moment that he was a part of, not reporting on.

BELCHER: And Anderson, if I can jump in. I mean, he's taken a lot of criticism about sort of his coming to this, but the truth of the matter is these are issues of poverty and racism under that the president is working on for a long time. If you will understand, going back to even before he got involved in political life after college one of the first things he was a community organizers for churches and in poverty areas and understanding what work that he did in this (INAUDIBLE). One of the major pieces of legislation at the worked on in the Illinois state Senate was in fact a racial profiling bill.


BELCHER: So, I mean, this is something he's deeply rooted in.

COOPER: But it was interesting that he wasn't taking a side in the case, and, you know, I mean, his initial statement was very clear in saying, you know, this was a case where reasonable doubt a applied and the jury rendered the verdict and that's how the system works. And then, he went on to explain the reaction by some African Americans to this verdict and the prism through which they see it and at the same time not excusing one side or the other, which I just thought was, I don't know, I just thought it was very nuance.

DUBOIS: I think the reason why he did that was because the case, the verdict was just part of the problem. The actual problem started earlier when George Zimmerman looked at Trayvon Martin and saw not a person, not a kid who had hopes and dreams but a nameless, faceless hoodie. And the president, I think, today wanted to put a name and face on that hoodie, not just on Trayvon Martin but on African- American men like him all around the country. So, it wasn't just about the legal outcome, it was also about, you know, humanizing this entire group of people.

COOPER: And Michaela, you said something during our town hall in race and justice just the other day which we are replaying tonight at 10:00, which was George Zimmerman could have said to Trayvon Martin when he got out of the vehicle, hey, son, are you lost, can I help you as opposed to what ultimately happened. It would have been a different way of looking -- if he was a different person, if he looked at it in a different way.

DAVIS: Right.

COOPER: That might have been one.

We are going to take a quick break and we are going talk about that when we come back.

We are going to continue the conversation after the break and listen to more of the president's talk to the country including how he addressed the divide, as Candy Crowley mentions, and how Americans saw the trial and see the criminal justice system.

Later, my conversation with Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin's parents.


COOPER: Continuing the conversation now, President Obama entered this afternoon about race and justice in light of the George Zimmerman verdict. Here is more of what the president had to say.


OBAMA: The African-American community is also knowledgeable there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws. Everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws, and that ends up having impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn't to say that the African American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It's not to make excuses for that fact, although, black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context. They understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history, and so the fact that sometimes that's unacknowledged adds to the frustration, and the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given there are these statistics show African American boys are more violent, using that as an excuse to them see their sons treated differently causes pain.

I think the African American community is not naive in understanding statistically someone like Trayvon Martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else. So folks understand the challenges that exist for African- American boys, but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel there is no context for it, and that context is being denied, and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.


COOPER: We are back again with our panel. Cornell Belcher, Democratic strategist, Joshua Dubois, former special assistant to President Obama, chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley and BET editorial brand manager, Michaela Angela Davis.

Joshua, you are also a pastor. You led President Obama's fatherhood and black male outreach program while you were at the White House. How important do you think it was for him to acknowledge the struggles facing low-income African-American men the way that he did today identifying himself with them.

DUBOIS: I thought it was a very important. You know, the president acknowledged that there is two dynamics that can exist at the same time. You know, on the one hand, there is black on black violence and that violence should be prevented where possible and prosecuted when necessary. But at the same time, there is a context around that violence. Far too many African-American men who are being convicted at higher rates for the same crime and then when they come back to our communities after incarceration, they can't get a job, they can't get health insurance and they can't support families. And so, they go back into a life of crime. And the president wanted to just acknowledge there is a context around the violence that we are seeing in communities. It's not an excuse but it is the reality of the situation.

COOPER: Cornell, the president talking about a history of racial disparity, which a lot of times seems to get swept under the rug. It sort of, you know, there are some people say, you know, why talk about that? That's something that happened in the past. The president talking about how the past informs the present.

BELCHER: I think two things about that. I mean, one is look, if you are, I think if you are really a middle of the road American out there in middle America, not sort of hyper partisan like we have saw often on television, and you listen to what the president said, I think, and this was probably president's point, is I think you come away with a better understanding of why this community feels this way, and why the reaction is that. And I think ultimately that's what the president wanted to do, is he wants to speak to Middle America and tried to have Middle America come to some understanding and then moving us forward.

And on the responsibility thing, you know, and Joshua knows as well, that the president has always gotten a lot of flak for that. I mean, even going back to '08 in the primaries when he first did the fatherhood responsibility thing, you know, the chatter in class gave him a hard time talking about responsibilities in the communities. But it was something that the president felt passionate about and guess what, something African Americans also felt passionate about that you could mark that him start talking about personal responsibility, but quite frankly, us gaining momentum in the polls with African-Americans when Hillary Clinton was kicking our butts with him. And there is something that if you go to any church in the south, this personal responsibility is being preached in pope of almost every church in the south, so something that real he resonates with the community.

COOPER: Candy, also was interesting that often when the president spoke about race in this way, he sometimes has become the issue. Do you think there is a danger to that here?

CROWLEY: You know, the president sort of a president is sort of the issue when they chime in on something. I think they know very well that this is an issue that race is an issue that always kicks up so much stuff.

And I agree, by the way, he is compelled to do this. But I also would say there is a lot of pressure on him to do this, including from Trayvon Martin's parents who had said something the day before. So yes, is a, absolutely, I think he wanted to chime in on this. But there was a lot of pressure to do so.

Having said that before, you know, prior to his reelection when the president spoke about race in with Jeremiah Wright and I was there both when he sort of cut ties with Jeremiah Wright and then when he gave the race speech in Philadelphia, it was a little more professorial, a little -- more cautious, the cautious man we have come to know. This is now a man that can lead whatever way he wants to.

Now, you know, you can say it will affect next year's elections but I doubt it, but this is a man who has a freedom now to come out and do this sort of thing, and I don't think even though they were aware this would kick up racial divides, I don't think that was part of the calculations.

COOPER: He also tried to stress the positive towards the end of the speech, and I want to play that.


OBAMA: As difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don't want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress and changing attitudes when it comes to race. It doesn't mean we're in a post racial society. It doesn't mean racism is eliminated.

But you know, when I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they are better than we are. They are better than we were on these issues. And that's true in every community that I've visited all across the country.


COOPER: Michaela, listening to your own daughter who is, extra, 22?


COOPER: Do you agree with president?

DAVIS: Absolutely. When he said they are better than we are, it is like yes. Aletti (ph) is better than I am and her friends are better. And what was really interesting when he said -- he had that moment about can we use this moment to also bolster our boys, our sons? These are our beloved babies. And I feel like there has been an incredibly successful image campaign on the criminalization and the demonization of black men and boys.

Half the images we consume in mainstream media are black men are sports related or criminal, half. So, that's what people are holding. That's who they see, unless Trayvon was LeBron, he's seen as a criminal.

And so, we have to start to change that dynamic. And what was pointing it again about today, we are our stories, right? You know people by telling stories and getting to know them. So, for the president to tell his story about purses clutched, doors locked, suspicion, you know, again, that piece Charles Blow wrote about what precise pace. And what precise pace does the president walk? Well, you know, it's all about having to negotiate who you are, what you're wearing, how fast you're talking, when you talk, when you don't talk, what's enough? What is not enough?

COOPER: Considerations which a white person --

DAVIS: Never has.

COOPER: Has not entered into my mind.

DAVIS: So, all these voices coming out, whether it's Charles or Quest love or anyone, we get to see now a human in a breathe of voices but saying kind of the same thing. And when you say that it's nuance, yes it is, but also we are nuance. So, he is speaking to the humanity of the black spirit which isn't just one thing. So, it is so not letting us off the hook, it is a natural way to talk about a community, right? Like it's not one way or the other.

So, I think this was very powerful in the way that he spoke to our humanity, the leader of our world, in a way, spoke to our humanity, and gave our boys a sense of value that they are worth investing in. And I contend they are worth protecting, and that's what we didn't see anyone think about. We didn't see George think he might need -- he might have need to be protected from the perpetrators, you know. That's a new conversation.

COOPER: I wanted to continue this conversation. We are going to take another quick break. Stand by.

Coming up, the president spoke of several ways we as a country can learn from the Trayvon Martin case and hopefully makes some improvements going forward. One thing he talk about was examining the so-called stand your ground laws, what he said and we will talk about it with our panel next.


COOPER: In breaking his relative silence in the killing of Trayvon, President Obama today talked about where we can take the issues raised by the case beyond protest individuals. The president said he is talking about the number of things with his staff, various were attention could be focus. One of them as he mentioned is stand your ground laws saying it's worth it to give them a second look.


OBAMA: I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws, to see if it -- if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations. I know that there's become men tarry about the fact that the stand your ground laws in Florida were in the used as a defense in the case.

On the other hand, if we're sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms, even if there's a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we would like to see?

And for those who, who resist that idea that we should think about something like the 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?

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? And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.


COOPER: An interesting question he raises there. With me once again Democratic strategist and former Obama pollster, Cornell Belcher, "Daily Beast" writer, Joshua Dubois who led the president's fatherhood in Black Male Outreach Programs. We're also joined now by veteran prosecutor, Paul Henderson and activist Michaela Angela Davis, editorial brand manager.

Paul, you are no fan of the stand your ground laws, as a prosecutor, what did you make of the president's comments?

PAUL HENDERSON, PROSECUTOR: I thought they were interesting and they actually elevated the conversation from my perspective. I like that he didn't just approach it from a one-dimensional prospective of just racial implications because I believe that investigation is already ongoing and we already know where a lot of those statistics will lead us.

I like that he elevated the approach and the elevated the observations about stand your ground and asked about at the end of the day what are the outcomes, the measured outcomes associated with stand your ground and really asking everyone across the racial divides what do we get with stand your ground and are these laws elevating violence?

Are they reducing conflicts, because those are the questions that we need to ask and those are the answers we need when we examine the laws because I think that will take us to a place where we're being more hash in our critique of the stand your ground laws in general and that will take place across the nation. I loved his approach. I love that presentation and I think it elevated the conversation about the topic.

COOPER: Michaela, I thought it was interesting the question he asked at the end would Trayvon Martin have been justified if he had been armed and he was scared of somebody following him, could he have stood your ground and shot George Zimmerman, and it's questions like that I was telling you during the break, I saw on a web site somebody taken a photo of Trayvon Martin and a photo of George Zimmerman. They made George Zimmerman, African-American and they made Trayvon Martin's face white. And I think it's interesting to change around the races of these situations and see how that impacts one's view point of it.

MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, IMAGE ACTIVIST: Yes. I thought it was brilliant that he reached into the collective imagination and said just give this a second, think about it, and think about what you would see and he said if you were ambiguous at best it's still worth looking at. I think that moment where we can try for a second to get into the mind of someone or if someone else's perspective is really powerful and I think that this idea empathy again is what we brought to the table.

COOPER: Cornell, where do things go from here? You know, the president talked about this isn't necessarily that politicians need to -- the laws maybe need to look at. This is something that you look into community groups and church groups and people locally as opposed to politicians making grand statements?

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think when we talk about, you know, pushing back on the biases that we all have, it is something that we have to -- the thing going on, however, I will say this and probably just because I'm a political hack and mean that with love. There is a political side to this and, look, when I think back to our history, I think what would Fanny Lieu Hamer do and Benny Rusten do?

This is what I wrote about my piece on is those marches and those vigils that are going on are for them, but they old organize at them. They would why not have voter registration drives at them? Why not give people, you know, and again, I'm a campaign guy, why not give people in these communities they are going into, ever sure you cover areas and ever sure the people are registered.

Do what in fact what the Tea Party did turn this protest in organizing ends up into mobilizing where you apply pressure to these elected officials. These are state laws. You know what? You can win a Senate seat in a lot of states with 5,000 votes.

COOPER: Paul --


COOPER: Go ahead, Joshua.

DUBOIS: If I can jump in. In addition to the mobilization that can happen, this is a huge shot in the arm of the field of black male achievement. There are echo systems of organizations out there that are investing in and empowering young African-American men, but they've largely been operating outside of public view. The president just ratcheted up their profile exponentially in this speech And I think you'll get a lot more funders, foundations, elected officials paying more attention to the black field achievement after his remarks.

DAVIS: He asked could all of us wring out some more bias. This speaks to everything whether race, gender, marriage equality. It was very broad and all of us thinking can we ring out bias acknowledging that we all have it.

COOPER: I love it. Cornell Belcher, Joshua Dubois, Paul Henderson, Michaela Angela Davis, thank you, great discussion.

Coming up, as you heard earlier, President Obama said he and the first lady send their prayers to Trayvon Martin's parents. Coming up my conversation with -- their reaction to the verdict and what they want the world to know about their son. That's next.


SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: There were times not necessarily the testimony but a lot more the pictures for me, the 911 call where it just seemed so final. The pictures that the medical examiners, the pictures at the site, those things were more hurtful to me and sometimes I could sit through it, and at times I just needed to just go by myself and just say a prayer and ask God to strengthen me.



COOPER: Tonight, a mother and father who lost a son. At the end of the day for Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, the parents of Trayvon Martin, it is that simple and just that sad. Tonight as we talk about all greater implications of the death of Trayvon Martin, we don't want to lose sight of the simple fact a mother and father have lost a son.

Joining me now is Sybrina Fulton, Tracy Martin and family attorney, Benjamin Crump. Thank you very much for being with us. First of all, how are you holding up?

FULTON: It's very difficult, but I'm just taking one day at a time. It's very difficult. COOPER: Tracy for you?

TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S FATHER: It's tough. We are just trying to stay strong. We understand that we have to stay strong for each other, our families.

COOPER: You were there in the trial every day and at times you had to leave because of some of the testimony were too hard to hear.

FULTON: There were times not necessarily the testimony, but a lot more the pictures for me, the 911 call where it just seemed so final. The pictures that the medical examiners, the pictures at the site, those things were more hurtful to me and sometimes I could sit through it, and at times I just needed to just go by myself and just say a prayer and ask God to strengthen me.

COOPER: When I talked to Daryl Parks one day, one of your attorneys, and he said you all talked ahead of time about not being there when the verdict came down, why didn't you want to be there that day?

FULTON: We didn't want to be there because we were told by the court system that there were -- you couldn't do any outbursts. So I think by us not being there, it took the sting out of people seeing us react to it because it literally broke us down.

COOPER: Juror B37 when she spoke exclusively on 360 said she had a clear picture of George Zimmerman from the trial, but only a hazy one of Trayvon Martin. Listen.


COOPER: You call George Zimmerman, George. Do you feel like you know him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do. I feel like I know everybody.

COOPER: You call Trayvon, Trayvon, as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did. Trayvon wasn't as well-known by us because there wasn't as much said about him.


COOPER: Ben, do you think it would have made a difference with the jury, I don't know, if sympathized is the right word or felt they connected with him?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: The thing that was so troubling when I watched that interview, was how she said in their community, they. She almost said like they were from a different world. If this was one of their children, five of them had children. What would they say about their child running from a strange person and minutes later there's a bullet in his heart?

COOPER: I want to play that for our viewers because it was in relation to Rachel Jeantel who testified. Let's just place what she said.


COOPER: So the term creepy ass cracker that Rachel Jeantel said Trayvon had used and -- you are saying that simply is how Trayvon and Rachel talk to each other?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure, that's the way they talk.

COOPER: And did you see that as a negative statement or a racial statement as the defense suggested?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think it's really racial. I think it's just everyday life, the type of life they live and how they are living.


COOPER: I got an enormous amount of tweets from viewers that watched that interview and overwhelming they were -- the people tweeting me were saying there were an awful lot of theys in that statement, they, they and the viewers weren't sure whether she was referencing they Trayvon and Rachel Jeantel or they African-Americans in general. I'm wondering as you hear that what do you think?

FULTON: I think it speaks for itself. She's definitely has a disconnect. She's not saying that's the way teenagers talk in our community. She's saying in their community that's how they talk.

COOPER: Different than her community?

FULTON: Different from her community. So she made sure that it was a separate community that she was speaking about.

COOPER: You know, in the wake of this, Ben, the other day was on a town hall we did in race and justice in the country and there was a man named Charles Blow and one of the things he said to me the other day and this stuck in my mind since, he's African-American and has teenage sons and said, you know, I've always told my sons don't run when the police are around because you don't want to be viewed as suspicious.

But now I feel like I have to tell them don't walk too slow because -- and Charles Blow asked the question, what is the speed with which an African-American male should walk so as to not be suspicious and to have to have that conversation with your child, I just found stunning.

When we come back, we'll talk a little bit about what people should tell their kids now and what you would recommend people tell their kids now about something like that. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Back again with Tracy Martin, Sybrina Fulton and Benjamin Crump. The idea that -- Charles Blow's question of what is pace with which an African-American man can walk is just a stunning one to me -- I've been thinking about it every day since he said it. Is this a conversation you had with Trayvon and your other son?

MARTIN: Definitely. By us living in a diverse community, diversified community, we -- we really don't have the -- have to have the conversation where you have to be afraid of every different race because they go to school. They grew up going to school with other nationalities. So the conversation that you have -- that we have is, you know, we try to prepare them to become teenagers, to become upstanding citizens and how to conduct themselves in public.

When you have a situation such as an unarmed teen gets shot in the heart for doing absolutely nothing, you know, you have to -- you have to say to yourself, what is it that I can tell my child now? What kind of conversation do I tell him as far as going outside and conducting himself?

COOPER: It's not just about police. It's about unidentified neighborhood watch people or unidentified security guards. What do you tell parents? What would you tell parents out there?

FULTON: That's a very difficult subject for me because my older son, he likes to go out with his friends. He likes to go to the movies and things like that. I'm very afraid right now because I have no clue what to tell him. I have no clue if I should tell him to run or walk, if I should tell him to defend himself or just lay there. I have no clue what to tell him. That's some of the conversations that we need to have and also about the laws. We need to deal with the laws, as well, because my son was unarmed and the person that shot and killed him got away with murder.

COOPER: And yet, as you know, Juror B37 and I'm assuming other jurors, as well, didn't discuss race in the jury room according to Juror B37. She clearly does not believe race played any role in the profiling of Trayvon Martin and any level in this case. Let's play that.


COOPER: Do you feel that George Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon Martin? Do you think race played a role in his decision, his view of Trayvon Martin as suspicious?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think he did. I think just circumstance cause George to think that he might be a robber or trying to do something bad in the neighborhood because of all that had gone on previously. They were unbelievable number of robberies in the neighborhood.

COOPER: So you don't believe played a role in this case?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think it did. I think if there was another person, Spanish, white, Asian, if they came in the same situation where Trayvon was, I think George would have reacted the exact same way.


COOPER: What do you think of that?

FULTON: I think that's a joke because he clearly said in the 911 calls that it was a black teenager, an African-American teenager. So that was the profile. That was the person that he was looking for because that was the person or people that were breaking in, in the area. Unfortunately, Trayvon was not one of those people. Trayvon had every right to be in that community. Trayvon had every right to go to the store and come back in peace and safe. So I think that's really a joke. I don't understand why she wouldn't see that, but then again, there's the disconnect, there's definitely a disconnect.

COOPER: Do you believe the system works? I mean, having -- you've had this horrific experience. You've seen the justice system up close. Do you believe it works?

MARTIN: Well, we have faith in the system, but it's -- it also goes back to what you have to work with, and for me and our case, we just felt as though that the state did all they could do with what they had. Had it been investigated properly from the beginning, it would have been more overwhelming evidence, do the system worked? It didn't work for us, but we remain prayerful that the system through this injustice that we can build some type of -- that we can close that gap and hopefully that the system can start working for everyone equally.

COOPER: Your strength is amazing throughout all this and the face of this and it continues to be. Thank you very much for talking to us tonight. Appreciate it. We'll be right back.


COOPER: You heard Trayvon Martin's parents talk about their hope their tragedy leads to positivity to the country, to greater understanding across racial lines, support for families like themselves and a deeper understanding of justice. They set up a Trayvon Martin foundation, one word,

Tonight at 10:00 Eastern we'll continue the conversation with a 360 special "Town Hall, Race and Justice In America." That's at 10:00 Eastern Time. That's it for us. Thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.