Fear of a Black President

Fictional occupants of the White House.


Barack Obama may be our first black president, but as Clarence Lusane writes in The Black History of the White House (City Lights), pop culture has long fantasized about African-American chief executives. We’ve compiled a slideshow of some fictional occupants of this esteemed office.

James Roy Wilde

Imagined in: O Presidente Negro, 1926 Brazilian sci-fi novel set in United States

Rise to Power: Elected in 2228, when white vote splits between sex-segregated eugenicist parties. Dies mysteriously before he can take the oath of office.

Image: Claridad Coleccion

Douglas Dilman

Imagined in: Irving Wallace’s 1964 novel The Man, later a movie starring James Earl Jones

Rise to Power: House speaker Dilman assumes office after president and veep die. Impeached for uppityness.

Image: Everett Collection

Mays Gilliam

Imagined in: Head of State, a forgettable 2003 Chris Rock comedy.

Rise to Power: Cynical Dems nominate Gilliam as a sure loser. Blue comedy and economic populism win over voters.

Image: Dreamworks

David Palmer

Imagined in: 24, a post-9/11 torture-porn TV drama.

Rise to Power: Beats incumbent, gets poisoned. Sits out election, gets shot by sniper dispatched by his former VP.

Image: Fox

Tom Beck

Imagined in: Deep Impact, 1998 disaster flick starring Morgan Freeman.

Rise to Power: Declares martial law as comet heads toward Earth. Rebuilds US Capitol after tsunami wipes out East Coast.

Image: Globe Photos/Zuma

Robby Jackson

Imagined in: Tom Clancy’s 2003 thriller The Teeth of the Tiger

Rise to Power: VP Jackson assumes office when prez retires. Assassinated by KKK member.

Jim Brisken

Imagined in: Philip K. Dick’s 1966 sci-fi novel The Crack in Space

Rise to Power: Elected in 2080. Domestic racial issues take a backseat to conflict with a hominid race on “alter-Earth.”

Credit: Ace Books/Coverbrowser.com

 

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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