Morgan Freeman: Obama Isn’t First Black President

Actor Morgan Freeman
Actor Morgan Freeman

Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman is making headlines with his claim to NPR that Barack Obama isn’t America’s first Black president—Freeman says he’s America’s “first mixed-race president.”

The question of whether Obama could really be called Black when he had a White mother has come up before. But in a country where people have historically been called “Black” if they had just a drop of black blood, most people (including Obama himself) have come down on the side of just calling him Black. Not so with Freeman, who made his remarks on NPR’s show “Tell Me More,” hosted by Michel Martin.

“First thing that always pops into my head regarding our president is that all of the people who are setting up this barrier for him … they just conveniently forget that Barack had a mama, and she was White — very White American, Kansas, middle of America,” Freeman said. “There was no argument about who he is or what he is. America’s first Black president hasn’t arisen yet. He’s not America’s first Black president — he’s America’s first mixed-race president.”

But regardless of whether he’s seen as Black, White, or mixed, Freeman said the treatment of him by the Republican party has been harsh.

“He is being purposely, purposely thwarted by the Republican Party, who started out at the beginning of his tenure by saying, ‘We are going to do whatever is necessary to make sure that he’s only going to serve one term,’ ” he said. “That means they will not cooperate with him on anything. So to say he’s ineffective is a misappropriation of the facts.”

Freeman made his comments during an appearance to promote his new movie, The Magic of Belle Isle, which he said appealed to him because “It was my chance to play a drunk.”

Freeman plays a novelist who is partially paralyzed and is struggling with both writer’s block and alcoholism when he befriends a family living next door to his cabin at Belle Isle.

Listen to Freeman’s interview here.