First Lady Michele Obama is calling on Americans to rally around the family of an unarmed African-American teen who was recently shot to death by a neighborhood watchmen in Florida.


In a telephone interview on Tuesday, the first lady told NPR's Michel Martin that her "heart goes out to the parents" of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

"Because we all, as parents, understand the tragedy of that kind of loss. And I think that's really the thing that most people connect to," Michelle Obama said. "And it's important for us not to lose sight of the fact that this is a family that's grieving — and there's been a tremendous loss. And we all have to rally around that piece of it."

She continued: "I think we all need, as a country, to continue to talk about these issues, to understand our communities and the challenges that we face, which are different and unique, depending upon where you live."

"So there isn't, you know, a one-shot solution to this. It is complicated; it takes time; it takes openness; it takes compassion; it takes patience; and it takes a lot of work."

At a recent White House event, President Barack Obama had also carefully weighed in on Martin’s death.

“And when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids,” the president said. “I think that every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this, and that everybody pulls together, federal, state and local to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened.”

“But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin,” he added. “You know, if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”

Neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman pleaded not guilty last week after he was charged with second-degree murder for killing Martin.

Listen to the audio below from NPR's Tell Me More, broadcast April 17, 2012.

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