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Updated Jul 19, 2013 - 12:45 pm

President Barack Obama's full speech on Trayvon Martin

President Barack Obama speaks in the Brady Press Briefing room of the White House in Washington, Friday, July 19, 2013. Obama says black Americans feel pain after the Trayvon Martin verdict because of a "history that doesn't go away." Obama spoke in a surprise appearance Friday at the White House, his first time appearing for a statement on the verdict since it was issued last Saturday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama surprised both the nation and press corps when he made an impromptu appearance Friday to discuss the Trayvon Martin case.

During his address, Obama said the United States needs to do some "soul-searching" in the wake of a court decision that saw George Zimmerman go free. Thousands have protested the verdict across the country.

The president declined to wade into the detail of legal questions about the Florida case, saying, "Once the jury's spoken, that's how our system works."

But he said state and local laws, such as Florida's "stand your ground" statute, need a close look.

On the positive side, he said race relations in the United States actually are getting better. Looking at his own daughters and their interactions with friends, the president said, "They're better than we are. They're better than we were."

Watch Obama's full remarks below.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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