Obscure Box

Thoughts from inside the obscure box

November 7, 2008

The US president has been black before

Posted by : Michael Lund
Filed under : Media, Movies, Online, Television

Barack Obama is not the first black president of the United States, as has been widely misreported by the world's media.

The president has been black before. Many times in fact.

Dennis Haysbert - IMDB

Dennis Haysbert - IMDB

Perhaps the most recent appointment was actor Dennis Haysbert who played the black President David Palmer in the long-running television series 24.

"If anything, my portrayal of David Palmer, I think, may have helped open the eyes of the American people," he said in an interview with the Associated Press and others available at CNN's "Haysbert: '24' role may have helped Obama".

"And I mean the American people from across the board - from the poorest to the richest, every colour and creed, every religious base - to prove the possibility there could be an African-American president, a female president, any type of president that puts the people first."

Apparently (I never actually watched) he managed a few seasons in office before being assassinated in the opening episode of series five.

D B Woodside - IMDB

D B Woodside - IMDB

He is replaced as president by his on-screen younger brother Wayne Palmer, played by David Bryan "D. B." Woodside - at the start of series six.

Of course Haysbert wasn't the first black president of the US. The top job has been played by several black actors including James Earl Jones back in the 1972 movie The Man.

In the 1997 movie The Fifth Element it was Tommy 'Tiny' Lister who played President Lindberg.

Morgan Freeman - IMDB

Morgan Freeman - IMDB

Sticking with the science fiction theme another black president turns up a year later with Morgan Freeman playing President Tom Beck in the 1998 movie Deep Impact.

The trend for black presidents in the movies and on TV has not gone unnoticed by the world's media with several reports on the issue including "Black presidents we have known" (Monday 3 November 2008) at Salon.com this week, and "Precedent for black president in US film and TV"(Wednesday 4 June 2008) in The Jerusalem Post back in June.

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All thoughts and comments here are the honestly held personal opinion of Michael Lund and are based on the information available at the time of publication.