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Obama appeals to the ‘better angels of our nature’

Herb Boyd | 7/29/2013, 10:35 a.m. | Updated on 7/29/2013, 10:35 a.m.

“I know that [Attorney General] Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here. Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government—the criminal code. And law enforcement has traditionally done it at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels,” he explained.

After suggesting there may be ways the federal government can circumvent state laws, Obama found it necessary to insinuate that sense of accountability so often nestled in the heart of his speeches directed at Black Americans.

“We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys?” he asked. “And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them”

Before concluding, he reminded his fellow citizens that we are not living in a post-racial society. “And then finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching,” he said. “You know, there has been talk about should we convene a conversation on race. I haven’t seen it be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.” But that one conversation that might be helpful and convey more of his concern about what happened than a meeting with Martins parents. Of course, given his pragmatism, that might then necessitate a meeting with the Zimmermans.

Even so, though it took a while, Obama has weighed in the issue and, in a typical, Lincolnesque way, pled that the “better angels of our nature” prevail and that we keep pushing for a “more perfect union.”