WASHINGTON -- Trayvon Martin's parents applauded President Obama's remarks on their son's death Friday, saying they were "deeply honored and moved."
"Obama sees himself in Trayvon and identifies with him," they said in a statement. "This is a beautiful tribute to our boy."
The president surprised the White House press corps Friday afternoon, relating his own experiences to those of Martin and other African American youths.
"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," Obama said. "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."
Obama also called for closer inspection of "stand your ground" laws in the wake of the acquittal of Martin's shooter, George Zimmerman. Robert Zimmerman, George's brother, thanked Obama for his "sincere" remarks, but advised him to go a step further in an interview with Fox News.
"The president talked about encouraging African American youth but I would say also youth of all colors," Zimmerman said. "It might be in situations in their life that they don't feel like they're getting the encouragement from society that they need. That's one of the things my brother was doing before this incident."
Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) praised Obama for providing "a great starting point to reignite a dialog on what should be done on a number of fronts to address the challenges confronting black youth in America."
"As the president said, 'We've made progress,' but progress doesn't mean we've closed the book," Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) said on his Facebook page. "All children deserve to walk home from a convenience store, having done nothing wrong, free from fear of being profiled, harassed or killed."
Obama supporters saw the address as a landmark moment for the president, while members of the press were surprised by the frank and lengthy delivery from a president who talks little about race.