Transcript for Obama Speaks on Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman Verdict
Without warning today, president obama decided to blow open the argument about race and bias in america. Calling on the nation to do some soul searching. Six days after the verdict getting personal, saying he could have been trayvon martin. Afterwards, people across the country posted these images, side by side. And now abc's jim avila has this moment at the white house today. Reporter: Reporters scramble, the half empty white house press room jolted by a rare surprise visit from the president of the united states. Anybody else shoiing up? Reporter: After talking to his wife michelle and calling senior staff into the oval office, the president decided late yesterday to speak from the heart today abo the case of trayvon martin. When trayvon martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that trayvon martin could have been me 35 years ago. Reporter: In highly personal remarks, equal parts president and law professor, but mostly african-american male, barak obama reminded the country by the zimmerman verdict cut so deeply in the black community. The african-american community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences. And a history. It 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're shopping in a department store. That includes me. Reporter: Obama did not challenge the verdict but did talk about how life experiences make african-americans question whether they are treat ed kwaully in the eyes of law. 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. Reporter: The president suggesting more could be done, police training to avoid racial bias. A review of stand your ground laws. The administration say may promote rather than prevent gun violence. And the bolstering of self esteem of young black men. We need to soul serge. Reporter: In the end, president obama went personal again. Heartened by the racial progress he sees from his daughter's generation. When I talk to my daughters, and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they're better than we are. Reporter: Finally, invoking the constitution itself, as the nation continues a 230-year struggle with diversity. We're becoming a perfect union. Not perfect. Reporter: The president came to the press room carrying notes. His aids say he was speaking from the heart, we know he was speaking off the cuff. Die yoon 1234. Jim avila reporting in tonight. Thank you, jim. As we said, we wanted to take a closer look at questions of race and bias in america. And abc senior justice corespondent pierre thomas has that. Reporter: The last image of trayvon martin was of him buying tea and candy. And minutes later, when george zimmerman saw him, he was committing no crime. Many african-americans believe he was racially profiled. Today, the nation's first african-american president talked about the indignity of being profiled and it got personal. He made it clear, it's happened to him. There are very 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. Reporter: They're daily and they don't go away the president said. African-americans are looking at the trayvon martin shooting through a different lens. Many african-americans believe martin was singled out because of his race, and as a consequence, died because of his race. I don't want to be like trayvon martin's mom, burying my child. Reporter: When we talked to middle class african-american mothers last year in the wake of martin's shooting, they told us they worried about their sons being unjustly targeted and that they had to teach their boys how not to be profiled. I tell them always you have to keep your hands out of your pockets because people will perceive that as threatening. Reporter: It's a long-standing problem. In 1991, abc news conducted an experiment where we sent a black man and a white man into a record store. The black man was followed by the store clerk. The white man was ignored. And it is still happening. He talked about being feared, prejudged. Sometimes when I'm on the metro, I'll walk right past them and they'll tighten up. Today he reacted to zimmerman's acquittal. Sad. Heartbroken. Reporter: In this image circulating on the internet is asking a profound question, would things have been different if trayvon martin was white and george zimmerman black? Tomorrow expect major demonstrations across the country. Thank you so much. Now the president in this fray.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.