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Full Transcript of President Obama’s Farwell Speech

Full transcript of President Obama’s Farewell Speech given in Chicago.

[*] OBAMA: Hello Skybrook!


It’s good to be home!


Thank you, everybody!


Thank you.


Thank you.


Thank you so much, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


It’s good to be home.

Thank you.


We’re on live TV here, I’ve got to move.


You can tell that I’m a lame duck, because nobody is following instructions.


Everybody have a seat.

My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes that we’ve received over the past few weeks. But tonight it’s my turn to say thanks.

Whether we have seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people — in living rooms and in schools; at farms and on factory floors; at diners and on distant military outposts — those conversations are what have kept me honest, and kept me inspired, and kept me going. And every day, I have learned from you. You made me a better president, and you made me a better man.

So I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, and I was still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life. And it was a neighborhood not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills.

It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss.


I can’t do that.

Now this is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, and they get engaged, and they come together to demand it.

After eight years as your president, I still believe that. And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea — our bold experiment in self-government.

It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It’s the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executing; that We, the People, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.

What a radical idea, the great gift that our Founders gave to us. The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat, and toil, and imagination — and the imperative to strive together as well, to achieve a common good, a greater good.

For 240 years, our nation’s call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. It’s what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom.

It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande. It’s what pushed women to reach for the ballot. It’s what powered workers to organize. It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan — and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.


So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional. Not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow.

Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard. It has been contentious. Sometimes it has been bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.


If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history — if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, take out the mastermind of 9-11 — if I had told you that we would win marriage equality and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens — if I had told you all that, you might have said our sights were set a little too high.

But that’s what we did. That’s what you did. You were the change. The answer to people’s hopes and, because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.

In 10 days the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy. No, no, no, no, no. The peaceful transfer of power from one freely-elected President to the next. I committed to President-Elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me.

Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face. We have what we need to do so. We have everything we need to meet those challenges. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on earth.

Our youth, our drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention means that the future should be ours. But that potential will only be realized if our democracy works. Only if our politics better reflects the decency of our people. Only if all of us, regardless of party affiliation or particular interests help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.

And that’s what I want to focus on tonight, the state of our democracy. Understand democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders argued, they quarreled, and eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity. The idea that, for all our outward differences, we’re all in this together, that we rise or fall as one.

There have been moments throughout our history that threatened that solidarity. And the beginning of this century has been one of those times. A shrinking world, growing inequality, demographic change, and the specter of terrorism. These forces haven’t just tested our security and our prosperity, but are testing our democracy as well. And how we meet these challenges to our democracy will determine our ability to educate our kids and create good jobs and protect our homeland.

In other words, it will determine our future. To begin with, our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity.


And the good news is that today the economy is growing again. Wages, incomes, home values and retirement accounts are all rising again. Poverty is falling again.


The wealthy are paying a fair share of taxes. Even as the stock market shatters records, the unemployment rate is near a 10-year low. The uninsured rate has never, ever been lower.


Health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in 50 years. And I’ve said, and I mean it, anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I will publicly support it.


Because that, after all, is why we serve. Not to score points or take credit. But to make people’s lives better.


But, for all the real progress that we’ve made, we know it’s not enough. Our economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class, and ladders for folks who want to get into the middle class.


That’s the economic argument. But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic idea. While the top 1 percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many of our families in inner cities and in rural counties have been left behind.

The laid off factory worker, the waitress or health care worker who’s just barely getting by and struggling to pay the bills. Convinced that the game is fixed against them. That their government only serves the interest of the powerful. That’s a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.

Now there’re no quick fixes to this long-term trend. I agree, our trade should be fair and not just free. But the next wave of economic dislocations won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good middle class jobs obsolete.

And so we’re going to have to forge a new social compact to guarantee all our kids the education they need.


To give workers the power…


… to unionize for better wages.


To update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now.


And make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and the individuals who reap the most from this new economy don’t avoid their obligations to the country that’s made their very success possible.



We can argue about how to best achieve these goals. But we can’t be complacent about the goals themselves. For if we don’t create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come.

There’s a second threat to our democracy. And this one is as old as our nation itself.

After my election there was talk of a post-racial America. And such a vision, however well intended, was never realistic. Race remains a potent…


… and often divisive force in our society.

Now I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10 or 20 or 30 years ago, no matter what some folks say.


You can see it not just in statistics. You see it in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum. But we’re not where we need to be. And all of us have more work to do.


If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.


If we’re unwilling to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we will diminish the prospects of our own children — because those brown kids will represent a larger and larger share of America’s workforce.


And we have shown that our economy doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Last year, incomes rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women.

So if we’re going to be serious about race going forward, we need to uphold laws against discrimination — in hiring, and in housing, and in education, and in the criminal justice system.


That is what our Constitution and highest ideals require.

But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. It won’t change overnight. Social attitudes oftentimes take generations to change. But if our democracy is to work the way it should in this increasingly diverse nation, then each one of us need to try to heed the advice of a great character in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

For blacks and other minority groups, that means tying our own very real struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face. Not only the refugee or the immigrant or the rural poor or the transgender American, but also the middle-aged white guy who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages, but has seen his world upended by economic, and cultural, and technological change.

We have to pay attention and listen.


For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the ’60s; that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness; when they wage peaceful protest, they’re not demanding special treatment, but the equal treatment that our founders promised.


For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about tthe Irish, and Italians, and Poles, who it was said were going to destroy the fundamental character of America. And as it turned out, America wasn’t weakened by the presence of these newcomers; these newcomers embraced this nation’s creed, and this nation was strengthened.


So regardless of the station we occupy; we all have to try harder; we all have to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family just like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.



And that’s not easy to do. For too many of us it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods, or on college campuses, or places of worship, or especially our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. In the rise of naked partisanship and increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste, all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable.

And increasingly we become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting only information, whether it’s true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there.


And this trend represents a third threat to our democracy. Look, politics is a battle of ideas. That’s how our democracy was designed. In the course of a healthy debate, we prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to admit new information and concede that your opponent might be making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, then we’re going to keep talking past each other.


And we’ll make common ground and compromise impossible. And isn’t that part of what so often makes politics dispiriting? How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on pre-school for kids, but not when we’re cutting taxes for corporations?

How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? It’s not just dishonest, it’s selective sorting of the facts. It’s self-defeating because, as my mom used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you.

Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil, we’ve doubled our renewable energy, we’ve led the world to an agreement that (at) the promise to save this planet.


But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change. They’ll be busy dealing with its effects. More environmental disasters, more economic disruptions, waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary. Now we can and should argue about the best approach to solve the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations, it betrays the essential spirit of this country, the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our founders.


It is that spirit — it is that spirit born of the enlightenment that made us an economic powerhouse. The spirit that took flight at Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral, the spirit that cures disease and put a computer in every pocket, it’s that spirit. A faith in reason and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression, that allowed us to build a post-World War II order with other democracies.

An order based not just on military power or national affiliations, but built on principles, the rule of law, human rights, freedom of religion and speech and assembly and an independent press.


That order is now being challenged. First by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam. More recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who seek free markets in open democracies and civil society itself as a threat to their power.

The peril each poses to our democracy is more far reachingthan a car bomb or a missile. They represent the fear of change. The fear of people who look or speak or pray differently. A contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable. An intolerance of dissent and free thought. A belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or the propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right.

Because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women in uniform. Because of our intelligence officers and law enforcement and diplomats who support our troops…


… no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years.



And although…


… Boston and Orlando and San Bernardino and Fort Hood remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We have taken out tens of thousands of terrorists, including Bin Laden.



The global coalition we’re leading against ISIL has taken out their leaders and taken away about half their territory. ISIL will be destroyed. And no one who threatens America will ever be safe.



And all who serve or have served — it has been the honor of my lifetime to be your commander-in-chief.


And we all owe you a deep debt of gratitude.



But, protecting our way of life, that’s not just the job of our military. Democracy can buckle when it gives into fear. So just as we as citizens must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are.


And that’s why for the past eight years I’ve worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firmer legal footing. That’s why we’ve ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, reformed our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties.


That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans…


… who are just as patriotic as we are.



That’s why…


That’s why we cannot withdraw…


That’s why we cannot withdraw from big global fights to expand democracy and human rights and women’s rights and LGBT rights.


No matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem, that’s part of defending America. For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism and chauvinism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.

So let’s be vigilant, but not afraid. ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight.


Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world — unless we give up what we stand for, and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors.

Which brings me to my final point — our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted.


All of us, regardless of party, should be throwing ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions.


When voting rates in America are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should be making it easier, not harder, to vote.


When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.


But remember, none of this happens on its own. All of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power happens to be swinging.

Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning — with our participation, and with the choices that we make and the alliances that we forge.

Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law, that’s up to us. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.

In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but “from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken… to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth.”

And so we have to preserve this truth with “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one.


America, we weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character aren’t even willing to enter into public service. So course with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are seen, not just as misguided, but as malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others.


When we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt. And when we sit back and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.


It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy. Embrace the joyous task we have been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours because, for all our outward differences, we in fact all share the same proud type, the most important office in a democracy, citizen.


Citizen. So, you see, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when you own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life.


If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing.


If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clip board, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.


Show up, dive in, stay at it. Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir in goodness, that can be a risk. And there will be times when the process will disappoint you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been part of this one and to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America and in Americans will be confirmed. Mine sure has been.


Over the course of these eight years, I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers. I have mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace in a Charleston church. I’ve seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch. I’ve seen Wounded Warriors who at points were given up for dead walk again.

I’ve seen our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks. I’ve seen the youngest of children remind us through their actions and through their generosity of our obligations to care for refugees or work for peace and, above all, to look out for each other. So that faith that I placed all those years ago, not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change, that faith has been rewarded in ways I could not have possibly imagined.

And I hope your faith has too. Some of you here tonight or watching at home, you were there with us in 2004 and 2008, 2012.



Maybe you still can’t believe we pulled this whole thing off.


Let me tell you, you’re not the only ones.





Michelle LaVaughn Robinson of the South Side…



… for the past 25 years you have not only been my wife and mother of my children, you have been my best friend.



You took on a role you didn’t ask for. And you made it your own with grace and with grit and with style, and good humor.



You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody.


And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model.



You have made me proud, and you have made the country proud.



Malia and Sasha…


… under the strangest of circumstances you have become two amazing young women.


You are smart and you are beautiful. But more importantly, you are kind and you are thoughtful and you are full of passion.





… you wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I have done in my life, I am most proud to be your dad.


To Joe Biden…



… the scrappy kid from Scranton…


… who became Delaware’s favorite son. You were the first decision I made as a nominee, and it was the best.



Not just because you have been a great vice president, but because in the bargain I gained a brother. And we love you and Jill like family. And your friendship has been one of the great joys of our lives.


To my remarkable staff, for eight years, and for some of you a whole lot more, I have drawn from your energy. And every day I try to reflect back what you displayed. Heart and character. And idealism. I’ve watched you grow up, get married, have kids, start incredible new journeys of your own.

Even when times got tough and frustrating, you never let Washington get the better of you. You guarded against cynicism. And the only thing that makes me prouder than all the good that we’ve done is the thought of all the amazing things that you are going to achieve from here.


And to all of you out there — every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town, every kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer who knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every American who lived and breathed the hard work of change — you are the best supporters and organizers anybody could ever hope for, and I will forever be grateful. Because you did change the world.


You did.

And that’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than when we started. Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans; it has inspired so many Americans — especially so many young people out there — to believe that you can make a difference; to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves.

Let me tell you, this generation coming up — unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic — I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, and just, and inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, that it’s not something to fear but something to embrace, you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result the future is in good hands.


My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my remaining days. But for now, whether you are young or whether you’re young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your president — the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago.

I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours.

I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written: Yes, we can.


Yes, we did.


Yes, we can.


Thank you. God bless you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America. Thank you.









The Privilege and The Problem of Not Seeing Race

I just posted the Transcript to the CNN / Anderson Cooper Interview with Juror B37 from the George Zimmerman Murder case. I touched briefly on the topic of race in my intro to the transcript, but I didn’t elaborate because I felt that the topic of race deserved it’s own post.

I had mentioned previously that a big thing that stood out for me in the interview is that the juror said, “I think all of us thought that race did not play a role.”

And many of us are wondering but how could that be? How can so many people in our country feel that this case points out that sad fact that young black men can not wander down the street without purpose, without being profiled and called “suspicious” and then someone such as law enforcement, neighborhood watch, etc pluck them out of their location based on looks alone, follow them, chase them down and shoot them dead and be completely justified in doing so? The fact that black people straight up- don’t get to stand their ground. Trayvon never got the privilege of standing his ground.

In the wake of the not-guilty verdict we are seeing marches and demonstrations and protests pop us all over the country to grieve for Trayvon and to express anger with the state of continued racial tensions that exist today, many feel which are displayed front and center in this particular case.

I’ve seen handfuls of people say that this verdict is pay-back for O.J. God that’s so ignorant on so many levels- I just can’t..

I also can’t even begin to call Juror B37 deliberately racist. I don’t know enough about her to make that sort of determination, but I do want to point out an issue with (white) people not seeing race. The not seeing thing is something that happens all the time and that’s where a big problem lies. WE JUST DON”T SEE THE ISSUE. We are blind to it. I don’t know what to call it, but it’s more like blind racism, if you will, than none at all.

We failed to see why race mattered when Beyoncé sang at the Super bowl, we failed to see why it was such a big deal that Kerry Washington is the first African-American actress to lead an American network drama series since 1974. We failed to See those things as big deals because we aren’t looking for them and frankly since we aren’t looking for it, we don’t even SEE the absence of them. Most white people probably didn’t even realize that we just don’t see black women in leading roles.

BUT when you don’t see people like you, you notice it. When you see people like you getting stopped, frisked, chased down, you notice it.

Do you understand where I’m going with this? I often hear people say that the people who call racism on issues are just looking for it.. well, no. not exactly. Like I mentioned above, when you see trends of injustice or the absence of people like you- you don’t have to be looking for it- it is displayed on a platter in front of you day in and day out. But often when you aren’t looking, don’t want to look or just don’t care- maybe even don’t realize you should care- you don’t see it.

You don’t see it.

Just like Juror B37 didn’t see it.

Something that always bothers me is when people say: “I don’t see color..” (then proceed to say without fail) “I don’t care if they’re black, white, purple or green, I love all people.”

Sorry folks. We don’t have purple or green people- that’s just your way of skirting the fact that we have a big problem with Black Vs. White in this society. And of course you see their color- or at least you should. Now what you see and how you feel and how you treat them- there’s where you should mind your p’s & q’s. People of all races and nationalities are different. But let’s celebrate and value those differences instead of discriminate and profile.

Look. Acknowledge. See. See that there are not many black politicians, actresses news anchors, talk & TV show hosts and singers in mainstream positions of power.

Look. Acknowledge. See. See that so many black people are profiled, discriminated against and killed without cause and without consequence.

Look. Acknowledge. See. See that you in your life have power and privilege where others do not.

Look. Acknowledge. See. See that a big part of white privilege is going about your entire life and not noticing that race is an issue.

I saw this image floating around today.. it's Martin Luther King Jr. depicted in a hoodie. Powerful.

I saw this image floating around today.. it’s Martin Luther King Jr. depicted in a hoodie. Powerful.

Juror B37 Speaks Out On Anderson Cooper (Transcript)

QKnVR_Em_56In my opinion The Trayvon Martin/ George Zimmerman murder case was lost at Jury selection.. But in a county (Stanford County) that is 80% white, Trayvon Martin probably never had a chance to have a jury that looked like him or understood the problems with racial profiling in the first place.

In case you missed it last night, here’s the transcript of the Anderson Cooper’s interview with Juror B37.. A couple of the things that stood out for me was that she says none of the jurors considered racial profiling to be an issue in this case (contrary to a large majority of how the country feels about this) and that she admitted confusion about the actual interpretation of the laws.

I find it very frustrating, disheartening and flawed having people decide cases when they do not understand the laws they are deciding verdicts on. Why isn’t a clearer understanding and explanation of the laws mandatory?

Read the transcript and tell me what you think?


ANDERSON COOPER, host of AC360: She’s the first juror to speak out publicly, the first to talk about how she saw the powerful testimony that all of us saw, which testimony resonated with her and the other jurors, which evidence persuaded her and the other five women on the panel.

What happened inside that jury room, what does she think really happened the night George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin?

COOPER: When you first sat down in the jury, when you first gathered together, what was it like?

Did you know how big this —

JUROR: It was unreal. It was unreal. It was like — it was like something that — why would they want to pick me? Why would I be picked over all these hundreds of people that they interviewed?

COOPER: And when the trial started, what was the first day like? There were the opening statements. Don West told a joke, what did you think of that?

JUROR: The joke was horrible. I just — nobody got it. I didn’t get it until later, and then I thought about it. And I’m like, I guess that could have been funny, but not in the context he told it.

COOPER: Going into the trial, did you have an idea in your mind about what happened?

JUROR: No, because I hadn’t followed the trial at all. I mean, I’d heard bits and pieces of what had happened, and the names that were involved, but not any details.

COOPER: So take me back if you can to that first day, the opening statements, what do you remember about them? What stood out to you?

JUROR: Not a whole lot because it seems like it’s been years ago that it happened. It does. It seems like it’s been a very long time that we were there.

COOPER: Was there a particular witness that stands out to you?

Who did you find to be the most credible?

JUROR: The doctor — and I don’t know his name.

COOPER: The doctor for — that the defense called?


COOPER: All right.


COOPER: What about him?

JUROR: I thought he was awe inspiring, the experiences that he had had over in the war, and I just never thought of anybody that could recognize somebody’s voice yelling, in like a terrible terror voice when he was just previously a half hour ago playing cards with him.

COOPER: This was the witness that — the friend of George Zimmerman’s who had had military experience?

JUROR: No, that was — this was the defense —

COOPER: The defense medical examiner?



What was it like day by day just being on that jury?

JUROR: Day by day was interesting. There were more interesting things than others; when they got into the evidence it was a lot more interesting than just testimony. Some of the witnesses — some of the witnesses were good, some of them not so good.

COOPER: Did you feel — a lot of the analysts who were watching the trial, felt that the defense attorneys — Mark O’Mara, Don West — were able to turn prosecution witnesses to their advantage — Chris Serino (ph), for instance, the lead investigator.

Did he make an impression on you?

JUROR: Chris Serino (ph) did. He — but he — to me, he just was doing his job. He was doing his job the way he was doing his job and he was going to tell the truth regardless of who asked him the questions.

COOPER: So you found him to be credible?

JUROR: I did, very credible.

COOPER: So when he testified that he found George Zimmerman to be more or less and overall truthful, did that make an impression on you?

COOPER: The prosecution started off by saying that George Zimmerman was on top in the struggle. And then later on, they seemed to concede, well, perhaps Trayvon Martin was on top, maybe he was pulling away.

Do you feel that the prosecution really had a firm idea of what actually happened?

JUROR: I think they wanted to happen what they wanted to happen to go to their side for the prosecution and the state. There was a lot — the witnesses that the defense had on, plus some of the prosecution witnesses, there was no doubt that they had seen what had happened. Some of it was taped, so they couldn’t rebut any of that.

COOPER: It was on the 9-1-1 tape.

JUROR: Yes, the 9-1-1 tapes and the John Good calling and all of that.

COOPER: How significant were those 9-1-1 tapes to you?

JUROR: The Lauer tape was the most significant because it went through before the struggle, during the struggle, the gunshot and then after.

COOPER: You had the parents of Trayvon Martin testifying; you had the family of George Zimmerman, friends of George Zimmerman, testifying about whose voice it was on the 9-1-1 call.

Whose voice do you think it was in the 9-1-1 call?

JUROR: I think it was George Zimmerman’s.

COOPER: Did everybody on the jury agree with that?

JUROR: All but probably one.

COOPER: And what made you think it was George Zimmerman’s voice?

JUROR: Because of the evidence that he was the one that had gotten beaten.

COOPER: So you think because he was the one who had had cuts, had abrasions, he was the one getting hit; he was the one calling for help?

JUROR: Well, because of the witnesses of John Good, saw Trayvon on top of George, not necessarily hitting him, because it was so dark, he couldn’t see. But he saw blows down towards George. And he could tell that it was George Zimmerman on the bottom. He didn’t know who it was, but he knew what they were wearing.

COOPER: The one — the juror who didn’t think it was George Zimmerman’s voice, who thought it was Trayvon Martin’s voice on that call.

Do you know why they thought that way?

JUROR: Well, she didn’t think it was Trayvon’s, she just said she — it could have been Trayvon’s.

COOPER: So she wasn’t even sure?

JUROR: No. She wanted to give everybody absolute out of being guilty.

COOPER: But you were sure it was George Zimmerman’s voice?

JUROR: I was sure it was George Zimmerman (inaudible)–


COOPER: And everybody else on the jury was? Except for that one person?

JUROR: I think so. I think they were. I don’t think there was a doubt that everybody else thought it was George’s voice.

COOPER: I want to ask you a bunch of the — I want to ask you about some of the different witnesses. Rachel Jeantel, the woman who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin at the start of the incident.

What did you make of her testimony?

JUROR: I didn’t think it was very credible, but I felt very sorry for her. She didn’t ask to be in this place. She didn’t ask — she wanted to go. She wanted to leave. She didn’t want to be any part of this jury. I think she felt inadequate toward everyone because of her education and her communication skills. I just felt sadness for her.

COOPER: You felt like, what, she was in over her head?JUROR: Well, not over her head, she just didn’t want to be there, and she was embarrassed by being there, because of her education and her communication skills, that she just wasn’t a good witness.COOPER: Did you find it hard at times to understand what she was saying?JUROR: A lot of the times because a lot of the time she was using phrases I have never heard before, and what they meant.COOPER: When she used the phrase, “creepy ass cracker,” what did you think of that?JUROR: I thought it was probably the truth. I think Trayvon probably said that.

COOPER: And did you see that as a negative statement or a racial statement as the defense suggested?

JUROR: I don’t think it’s really racial. I think it’s just everyday life, the type of life that they live, and how they’re living, in the environment that they’re living in.

COOPER: So you didn’t find her credible as a witness?


COOPER: So did you find her testimony important in terms of what she actually said?

JUROR: Well, I think the most important thing is the time that she was on the phone with Trayvon. So you basically, hopefully if she heard anything, she would say she did, but the time coincides with George’s statements and testimony of time limits and what had happened during that time.

COOPER: Explain that?

JUROR: Well, because there was a — George was on the 9-1-1 call while she was on the call with Trayvon, and the times coincide, and I think there was two minutes between when George hung up from his 9-1-1 call, to the time Trayvon and Rachel had hung up.

So really nothing could have happened because the 9-1-1 call would have heard the nonemergency call that George had called, heard something happening before that.

COOPER: She said at one point that she heard the sound of wet grass.

Did that seem believable to you?

JUROR: Well, everything was wet at that point. It was pouring down rain.

COOPER: We’re going to have a lot more tonight, just ahead, much more from Juror B-37; again, you’ll only see it here. Literally just completed this interview right before we went on air.

Coming up next, defense attorneys Mark O’Mara and Don West react to this juror, what she is saying.

You’ll also hear from the prosecution, let us know what you think. Follow me on Twitter right now @AndersonCooper. I’m tweeting about some of the things this juror is saying. We’ll be right back.

COOPER: What did you think of George Zimmerman?

JUROR: I think George Zimmerman is a man whose heart was in the right place, but just got displaced by the vandalism in the neighborhoods, and wanting to catch these people so badly, that he went above and beyond what he really should have done. But I think his heart was in the right place. It just went terribly wrong.

COOPER: Do you think he’s guilty of something?

JUROR: I think he’s guilty of not using good judgment. When he was in the car and he called 911, he shouldn’t have gotten out of that car. But the 911 operator also, when he was talking to him, kind of egged him on. I don’t know if it’s their policy to tell them what to do, not to get out of the car, to stay in their car. But I think he should have said, stay in your car, not can you see where he’s gone.

COOPER: Do you feel George Zimmerman should have been carrying a gun?

JUROR: I think he has every right to carry a gun. I think it’s everyone’s right to carry a gun. As long as they use it the way it’s supposed to be used and be responsible in using it.

COOPER: George Zimmerman obviously did not testify, but his testimony essentially was brought into the trial through those videotapes, a number of videotapes. He walked police through a re-enactment of what he said happened. How important were those videotapes to you?JUROR: I don’t really know, because I mean, watching the tapes, there’s always something in the back saying, is it right? Is it consistent? But with all the evidence of the phone calls, and all the witnesses that he saw, I think George was pretty consistent and told the truth, basically. I’m sure there were some fabrications, enhancements, but I think pretty much it happened the way George said it happened.COOPER: When George Zimmerman said that Trayvon Marten reached for his gun, there was no DNA evidence. The defense said, well, had testimony in, well, it could have gotten washed off in the rain or the like. Do you believe that Trayvon Martin reached for George Zimmerman’s gun?JUROR: I think he might have. I think George probably thought that he did, because George was the one who knew that George was carrying a gun. And he was aware of that.COOPER: You can’t say for sure whether or not Trayvon Martin knew that George Zimmerman was carrying a gun?JUROR: No.

COOPER: So you can’t say for sure whether or not Trayvon Martin reached for that gun?

JUROR: Right. But that doesn’t make it right. I mean, it doesn’t make it — there’s not a right or a wrong. Even if he did reach for the gun, it doesn’t make any difference.

COOPER: How so?

JUROR: Well, because George had a right to protect himself at that point.

COOPER: So you believe that George Zimmerman really felt his life was in danger?

JUROR: I do. I really do.

COOPER: Do you think Trayvon Martin threw the first punch?

JUROR: I think he did.

COOPER: What makes you think that?

JUROR: Because of the evidence of on the T, on the sidewalk, where George says he was punched, there was evidence of his flashlight and keys there, and then a little bit further down, there was a flashlight that he was carrying. And I think that’s where Trayvon hit him.

COOPER: So you think, based on the testimony you heard, you believe that Trayvon Martin was the aggressor?

JUROR: I think the roles changed. I think, I think George got in a little bit too deep, which he shouldn’t have been there. But Trayvon decided that he wasn’t going to let him scare him and get the one-over, up on him, or something. And I think Trayvon got mad and attacked him.

COOPER: Do you feel like you know for sure what happened in the altercation? And did the other jurors feel for sure that they knew what happened?

JUROR: Nobody knew exactly what happened. I mean, it started at one point and ended on another point. Witnesses said they heard left to right movement. Other witnesses said they heard right to left movement. But the credible witnesses said they heard left to right movement. So whatever happened, I think the punch came, and then they ended up in front of the — in back of the house. I don’t think anybody knows.

COOPER: When the defense in their closing argument played that animation of what they believe happened, did you find that credible?

JUROR: I found it credible. I did.

COOPER: What did you think of the testimony of Trayvon Martin’s mother and father? Did you find them credible?

JUROR: I think they said anything a mother and a father would say. Just like George Zimmerman’s mom and father. I think — they’re your kids. You want to believe that they’re innocent and that was their voice. Because hearing that voice would make it credible that they were the victim, not the aggressor.

COOPER: So in a way, both sets of parents kind of canceled each other out in your mind?

JUROR: They did, definitely. Because if I was a mother, I would want to believe so hard that it was not my son that did that, or was responsible for any of that, that I would convince myself probably that it was his voice.

COOPER: How critical, though, was it for you in your mind to have an idea of whose voice it was yelling for help? How important was that yell for help?

JUROR: I think it was pretty important. Because it was a long cry and scream for help, that whoever was calling for help was in fear of their life.

COOPER: The prosecution didn’t use the word racial profiling during the case. They used the word profiling. And that was something that was worked out between the judge and the lawyers when the jury wasn’t in the room.

JUROR: Right.

COOPER: Do you feel that George Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon Martin? Do you think race played a role in his decision, his view of Trayvon Martin as suspicious?

JUROR: I don’t think he did. I think just circumstances caused George to think that he might be a robber, or trying to do something bad in the neighborhood because of all that had gone on previously. There were unbelievable, a number of robberies in the neighborhood.

COOPER: So you don’t believe race played a role in this case?

JUROR: I don’t think it did. I think if there was another person, Spanish, white, Asian, if they came in the same situation where Trayvon was, I think George would have reacted the exact same way.

COOPER: Why do you think George Zimmerman found Trayvon Martin suspicious then?

JUROR: Because he was cutting through the back, it was raining. He said he was looking in houses as he was walking down the road. Kind of just not having a purpose to where he was going. He was stopping and starting. But I mean, that’s George’s rendition of it, but I think the situation where Trayvon got into him being late at night, dark at night, raining, and anybody would think anybody walking down the road stopping and turning and looking, if that’s exactly what happened, is suspicious. And George said that he didn’t recognize who he was.

COOPER: Well, was that a common belief on the jury that race was not — that race did not play a role in this?

JUROR: I think all of us thought that race did not play a role.

COOPER: So nobody thought race played a role?

JUROR: I don’t think so.

COOPER: None of the jurors?

JUROR: I can’t speak for them. I’m not their voice–

COOPER: That wasn’t part of the discussion in the jury room?

JUROR: No, no, we never had that discussion.

COOPER: It didn’t come up, the question of, did George Zimmerman profile Trayvon Martin because he was African-American?

JUROR: No, I think he just profiled him because he was the neighborhood watch, and he profiled anyone who came in acting strange. I think it was just circumstances happened that he saw Trayvon at the exact time that he thought he was suspicious.

COOPER: The prosecution tried to paint George Zimmerman as a wannabe cop, overeager. Did you buy that?

JUROR: I think he’s overeager to help people. Like the lady who got broken in and robbed, while her baby and her were upstairs, he came over and he offered her a lock for her backsliding glass door. He offered her his phone number, his wife’s phone number. He told her that she could come over if she felt stressed or she needed anybody, come over to their house, sit down, have dinner. Not anybody — I mean, you have to have a heart to do that and care and help people.

COOPER: So you didn’t find it creepy that — you didn’t find it a negative? You didn’t buy the prosecution when they kind of said he was a wannabe cop?

JUROR: No, I didn’t at all.

COOPER: Is George Zimmerman somebody you would like to have on a neighborhood watch in your community?

JUROR: If he didn’t go too far. I mean, you can always go too far. He just didn’t stop at the limitations that he should have stopped at.

COOPER: So is that a yes or — if he didn’t go too far. Is he somebody prone, you think, to going too far? Is he somebody you would feel comfortable —

JUROR: I think he was frustrated. I think he was frustrated with the whole situation in the neighborhood, with the break-ins and the robberies. And they actually arrested somebody not that long ago. I — I mean, I would feel comfortable having George, but I think he’s learned a good lesson.

COOPER: So you would feel comfortable having him now, because you think he’s learned a lesson from all of this?

JUROR: Exactly. I think he just didn’t know when to stop. He was frustrated, and things just got out of hand.

COOPER: People have now remarked subsequently that he gets his gun back. And there are some people that said that the idea that he gets — is — can have a gun, worries them. Does that worry you?

JUROR: It doesn’t worry me. I think he would be more responsible than anybody else on this planet right now.

COOPER: OK. Let’s talk about how you reached the verdict. When the closing arguments were done, the rebuttal was done, you go into that jury room, what happened?

JUROR: Well, the first day we went in, we were trying to get ourselves organized, because there’s no instructions on what you do, how you do it and when you do it.

So we all decided. We nominated a foreman so she could have the voice and kind of run the show if anybody gets, you know, so everybody’s not talking over everybody, if somebody starts talking, somebody else starts talking. And then she would say, you know, stop, we got to — one person at a time, we got to do this.

And so the first day we got all the evidence on the tables and on the walls, then we asked for an inventory, because it was just too time-consuming looking for evidence, when it was in no order whatsoever.

COOPER: Did you take an initial vote to see where everybody was?

JUROR: We did.

COOPER: So where was everybody? How was that first vote?

JUROR: We had three not guilties, one second degree murder and two manslaughters.

COOPER: So half the jury felt he was not guilty, two manslaughters and one second degree?

JUROR: Exactly.

COOPER: Can you say where — do you want to say where you were on that?

JUROR: I was not guilty.

COOPER: So going into it at — once the evidence — all the evidence had been presented, you felt he was not guilty?

JUROR: I did. I think that the medical examiner could have done a better job at presenting Trayvon’s — preserving Trayvon’s evidence on them —


COOPER: The state medical —

JUROR: — I mean the state. They should have bagged his hands, they should have dried his clothes, they should have done a lot of things they didn’t do.

COOPER: Do you feel you know truly what happened?

JUROR: I have a rendition of what I believe happened. And I think it’s probably as close as anybody could come to what happened. But nobody’s not going to know what exactly happened except for George.

COOPER: So you took that first vote, you saw basically the jury split, half the jurors, including yourself, thought not guilty, two people thought manslaughter, one person thought second degree murder had been proven.

How do you then go about deciding things?

JUROR: We started looking at the evidence. We listened to all the tapes, two, three, four, five times.

COOPER: The 9-1-1 recordings?

JUROR: The 9-1-1 recordings, and then there’s the re-enactment tape, there were some tapes from previous 9-1-1 calls that George had made.

COOPER: The re-enactment tape, that’s the tape of George Zimmerman walking police through what he says happened?

JUROR: Exactly, exactly. We looked through pretty much everything. That’s why it took us so long. We’re looking through the evidence, and then at the end we just — we got done, and then we just started looking at the law. What exactly we could find, and how we should vote for this case. And the law became very confusing.

COOPER: Tell me about that.

JUROR: It became very confusing. We had stuff thrown at us. We had the second-degree murder charge, the manslaughter charge, then we had self-defense, stand your ground, and I think there was one other one. But the manslaughter case — we actually had gotten it down to manslaughter, because the second degree, it wasn’t at second degree anymore.

COOPER: So the person who felt it was second degree going into it, you had convinced them, OK, it’s manslaughter?

JUROR: Through going through the law. And then we had sent a question to the judge, and it was not a question that they could answer yes or no. So they sent it back saying that if we could narrow it down to a question asking us if — what exactly — not what about the law and how to handle it, but if they could just have — I guess — I don’t know.

COOPER: You sent a question out to the judge about manslaughter?


COOPER: And about —

JUROR: What could be applied to the manslaughter. We were looking at the self-defense. One of the girls said that — asked if you can put all the leading things into that one moment where he feels it’s a matter of life or death to shoot this boy, or if it was just at the heat of passion at that moment.

COOPER: So that juror wanted to know whether the things that had brought George Zimmerman to that place, not just in the minute or two before the shot actually went off.

JUROR: Exactly.

COOPER: But earlier that day, even prior crime?

JUROR: Not prior crimes, just the situation leading to it, all the steps — as the ball got rolling, if all that —

COOPER: From him getting — spotting Trayvon Martin, to getting out of his vehicle to follow him, whether all of that could play a role in —

JUROR: Determining the self-defense or not.

COOPER: Did you feel like you understood the instructions from the judge? Because they were very complex. I mean, reading them, they were tough to follow.

JUROR: Right. And that was our problem. I mean, it was just so confusing what — with what and what we could apply to what. Because I mean, there was a couple of them in there that wanted to find him guilty of something. And after hours and hours and hours of deliberating over the law and reading it over and over and over again, we decided there’s just no way — other place to go.

COOPER: Because of the only, the two options you had, second degree murder or manslaughter, you felt neither applied?

JUROR: Right. Well, because of the heat of the moment and the stand your ground. He had a right to defend himself. If he felt threatened that his life was going to be taken away from him or he was going to have bodily harm, he had a right.

COOPER: Even though it’s he who had gotten out of the car, followed Trayvon Martin, that didn’t matter in the deliberations. What mattered was those final seconds, minutes, when there was an altercation, and whether or not in your mind the most important thing was whether or not George Zimmerman felt his life was in danger?

JUROR: That’s how we read the law. That’s how we got to the point of everybody being not guilty.

COOPER: So that was the belief of the jury, that you had to zero in on those final minutes/seconds, about the threat that George Zimmerman believed he faced?

JUROR: That’s exactly what had happened.

COOPER: So whether it was George Zimmerman getting out of the vehicle, whether he was right to get out of the vehicle, whether he was a wannabe cop, whether he was overeager, none of that in the final analysis, mattered. What mattered was those seconds before the shot went off, did George Zimmerman fear for his life?

JUROR: Exactly. That’s exactly what happened.

COOPER: And you have no — do you have any doubt that George Zimmerman feared for his life?

JUROR: I had no doubt George feared for his life in the situation he was in at the time.

COOPER: She said she had no doubt at all. Coming up, more of our exclusive interview. Juror B-37, talking about whether she feels sorry for Trayvon Martin and her overall take on the confrontation that ended his life.

JUROR: It’s a tragedy this happened, but it happened. I think both were responsible for the situation they had gotten themselves into. I think both of them could have walked away.

COOPER: More of my exclusive interview now with juror B-37 in the George Zimmerman trial and how it’s affected her.

COOPER: How has this been for you? I mean, how was making that decision, when you all realized, OK, the last holdout juror has decided, OK, manslaughter does not — we can’t hold George Zimmerman to manslaughter. There’s nothing we can really hold him to, not guilty. In that jury room, emotionally, what was that like?

JUROR: It was emotional to a point, but after we had put our vote in and the bailiff had taken our vote, that’s when everybody started to cry.

COOPER: Tell me about that.

JUROR: It was just hard, thinking that somebody lost their life, and there’s nothing else that could be done about it. I mean, it’s what happened. It’s sad. It’s a tragedy this happened, but it happened. And I think both were responsible for the situation they had gotten themselves into. I think both of them could have walked away. It just didn’t happen.

COOPER: It’s still emotional for you?

JUROR: It is, it’s very emotional.

COOPER: Can you explain the emotion?

JUROR: It’s just sad that we all had to come together and figure out what is going to happen to this man’s life afterwards. You find him not guilty, but you’re responsible for that not guilty. And all the people that want him guilty aren’t going to have any closure.

COOPER: Do you feel sorry for Trayvon Martin?

JUROR: I feel sorry for both of them. I feel sorry for Trayvon, in the situation he was in. And I feel sorry for George because of the situation he got himself in.

COOPER: Did you realize how big this trial had become?

JUROR: I had no clue, no clue whatsoever.

COOPER: Did it make sense to you that it had — that there was this much attention on it?

JUROR: It didn’t to me, because I didn’t see it as a racial thing. I saw it as a murder case, as a second degree murder case. It just — it was just unbelievable that it had gotten so big and so political — not really political; I don’t want to say that, but so emotional for everybody involved.

And I never would have thought when we went over to the hotel to get all our stuff from the hotel, we got to the hotel and the parking lot was just a regular parking lot; by the time we came out, it looked like Disney World, there was media, there were police, there were — and it really kind of started to sink in, when we went to get our stuff, and then the state police showed up, because they were going to be our escorts home.

COOPER: Are you scared now?

JUROR: I’m not scared. I don’t know how to say it.

COOPER: You clearly don’t want people to see your face?

JUROR: No. But I don’t want anybody else around me to be affected by anyone else. I mean, I’m not really scared, but I want to be cautious, if that makes any sense.

COOPER: It’s understandable.


COOPER: But you want people to know. Why did you want to speak?

JUROR: I want people to know that we put everything into everything to get this verdict. We didn’t just go in there and say, we’re going to come in here and just do guilty/not guilty. We thought about it for hours and cried over it afterwards. I don’t think any of us could ever do anything like that ever again.