WASHINGTON -- America's favorite teenage clockmaker is taking on a new role: civil rights activist.
Ahmed Mohamed, 14, is a Sudanese-American student who was arrested in September for bringing a homemade clock to school in Texas. On a chilly morning outside the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Ahmed discussed the incident to draw attention to racial and ethnic profiling in the United States.
"I'm glad that this happened to me, because I get to spread my word out to the people," he said.
The boy looked a little nervous when he saw all the cameras, but he smiled to his family.
"It's not by the color of your skin or by your religion, it's by their heart. You always judge a person by their heart," he said.
Later, when Ahmed was asked whether he had faced discrimination in other parts of his life, he said "sometimes."
Ahmed stood at the podium with Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), at one point putting his arm around the congressman. Honda, who has asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate Ahmed's detention and arrest, said that the boy had shown "true character" in taking a negative experience and using it to raise awareness.
Ahmed's father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, also spoke about the need to make sure that innocent people are not punished before proven guilty. "He was just seeking help from his teacher," he said of his son. "He just want[s] to be out in this world."
The controversy began after Ahmed's English teacher noticed a homemade clock the boy had brought to school to show an engineering teacher. The school contacted police, who came and handcuffed Ahmed and took him to a juvenile detention center for fingerprints and a mug shot. He was suspended from school for three days. In a letter to parents, Ahmed's school principal described the clock as "a suspicious-looking item."
Ahmed's story quickly exploded across social media. Twitter reached out to the boy about a potential internship, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg praised him and he got a shout-out from President Barack Obama's Twitter account: "Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House?"
Ahmed got the chance to talk with Obama one-on-one for a few minutes during Astronomy Night at the White House on Monday. He discussed the visit with CBS News correspondent Major Garrett.
"We talked about Mars and 2030," he said -- more info on that here -- "and I talked to him about the generator that I'm making and how it could help people on Mars."
"It's a very long journey," he told Garrett, reflecting on how his life has changed since the incident. "Short journey, but a very long journey in the experience of learning. People will always be there to support you when there's injustice."
Ahmed told Garrett that he'd brought the clock to school to impress his teacher, but instead he "impressed the world."
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