There aren’t enough words to express the impact that President Barack Obama has had on the many issues plaguing the people of the United States of America. With subjects ranging from the country’s racial divide and acts of terror worldwide, to gender inequality and LGBT rights, President Obama has had his hands full with supplying hope and reform to the country’s most oppressed communities.
In a 17,000 word cover story for The Atlantic written by esteemed journalist and author Ta-Nehisi Coates, the history of this particular presidency is revealed. The story, entitled, “My President Was Black,” dives into the depths of how President Obama obtained the valor to represent millions of people with a slew of different backgrounds and cultural and personal identities, while cultivating his own identity and values.
Broken into six parts, Coates takes us on a journey of the Obama Presidency as seen through his eyes, while including sit down interviews with President Obama throughout his tenure at the White House. Coates opens the story by describing the atmosphere of BET’s farewell party for the first family, and the Obamas unrelenting love for hip-hop music.
Coates also discussed the victories and the struggles that the Obamas faced while in office. In a video posted on The Atlantic’s Facebook page, President Obama discussed his perspective on race and the approach of his influence on others.
“If I walked into a room and it’s a bunch of white farmers, trade unionists, middle age—I’m not walking in thinking, Man, I’ve got to show them that I’m normal,” Obama stated. “I walk in there, I think, with a set of assumptions: like, these people look just like my grandparents. And I see the same Jell‑O mold that my grandmother served, and they’ve got the same, you know, little stuff on their mantelpieces. And so I am maybe disarming them by just assuming that we’re okay.”
In the impressive article, Coates also discusses conscious decisions made by President Obama in terms of embracing Black culture, working extensively in the Black community before and during his Presidency, and the plight of being a Black President vs. a Democratic President, and the challenges that are faced by both.
President-elect Donald Trump also came up in conversation as Coates expressed his disdain for America’s decision to elect such a drastically different leader for the coming years.
“When I told Obama that I thought Trump’s candidacy was an explicit reaction to the fact of a Black president, he said he could see that, but then enumerated other explanations. When assessing Trump’s chances, he was direct: He couldn’t win,” Coates stated. “This assessment was born out of the president’s innate optimism and unwavering faith in the ultimate wisdom of the American people—the same traits that had propelled his unlikely five-year ascent from Illinois state senator to U.S. senator to leader of the free world.”
Read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ full cover story, My President Was Black here.