Obama: ‘There Has Been An Awakening’ In America On Race

Barack Obama speaks during First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher initiative in the East Room of the White House in Washington on July 23, 2015. More than 130 students were gathered for the 'Beating the Odds Summit' which is aimed at sharing tools and strategies for students to successfully transition …
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama says there has been an “awakening” in America as a result of high profile racial incidents with law enforcement officials such as the ones in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland.

“What is true is that there has been an awakening around the country to some problems in race relations, in police-community relations,” Obama said in an interview with National Public Radio.

Obama pointed out that the problems that were getting more attention in the country were not new, but perhaps they were more pronounced as a result of social media.

“Because of smartphones and cameras and, you know, social media, I think people have become more aware of them, both black and white,” he said.

As a result, Obama explained, it was easier for him to weigh in on the subject, insisting he wanted to “to try to help to constructively shape the debate.” He excused himself from spending more time discussing race in his first term, pointing out that Americans were more worried about the economic crisis and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I think it’s fair to say that if, in my first term, Ferguson had flared up, as president of the United States, I would have been commenting on what was happening in Ferguson,” he said.