President Obama’s personal remarks Friday on his reaction to the George Zimmerman verdict have been praised by many, including the parents of Trayvon Martin, but black talk-show host Tavis Smiley says it’s too little too late.
The PBS commentator, appearing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” was sharply critical of the president’s “weak as pre-sweetened Kool-Aid” response to a Florida jury’s decision clearing Mr. Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting death of the 17-year-old Trayvon.
“I appreciate and applaud the fact that the president did finally show up,” Mr. Smiley said. “But … he did not walk to the podium for an impromptu address to the nation. He was pushed to that podium. A week of protests outside the White House, pressure building on him inside the White House, pushed him to that podium.”
Before Friday’s remarks, in which the nation’s first black president noted that he himself had been subject to racial profiling, Mr. Obama had largely sidestepped the verdict — frustrating some civil rights leaders who want to see the administration take a more aggressive stand in the case, including the possibility of civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman.
Trayvon’s parents, who helped lead protest marches across the country on Saturday, said they were “deeply touched” by the president’s comments, but Mr. Smiley said Mr. Obama needs to do more.
“The bottom line is, this is not Libya. This is America. On this issue, you cannot lead from behind. What’s lacking in this moment is moral leadership. The country is begging for it. They’re craving it,” he said.