Black Presidents

Effective today, The United States of America and The White House will now have four more years of President Barack Obama, his administration, his policies (shout-out to Obamacare) and the finest First Lady in all of creation (What, you think it was Dolly Madison? Nah, they only showed up for her ice cream…).

President Obama, with his family, getting inaugurated. First Black POTUS? Waitaminute, flag on the play!!
President Obama, with his family, getting inaugurated.
First Black POTUS, however?? Waitaminute, flag on the play!!

But if we’re being technical and picking at nits here, The President is only half-black! His father is from Kenya, sure, but his mother is white. Not that that makes any difference, he’s still the POTUS and the scoreboard will always show that he vanquished McCain and Mittens back-to-back, but if we’re looking for a full 100% BLACK President, well look not further than some TV shows and movies from years gone by. Check ’em out, vote on your favorites in the poll and leave your comments…

President Pryor

Black POTUS: President Richard Pryor
From: The Richard Pryor Show
Played by: Former host of Pryor’s Place and Gene Wilder’s comedy sidekick, Richard Pryor

A skit from his short-lived variety show in the 70’s, “First Black President” featured comedy legend Richard Pryor showing us what it might be like for the first black POTUS in office during a press conference. The skit is hilarious, particularly Pryor’s responses to questions about the space program, the FBI, unemployment, dating white women and a very tense final question about Pryor’s dear mother.  A must-see video below.

Only complaint about this portrayal is that it was way too short and should have been a series. However, it was the first one I could think of. Shouts out to veteran actors Marsha Warfield, Tim Reid and John Witherspoon appearing in this skit.

Black POTUS: President Lindberg
From: The Fifth Element
Played by: “Deebo comin! Hide yo sh1t!” Tiny “Zeus” Lister, Jr.

Several years after coming to destroy “Hoke Kogan” and “Beefcake Barber” as “The Human Wrecking Machine Zeus” at Summerslam alongside the “Macho King” Randy Savage (RIP) and “Sensational Queen” Sherri (RIP), Tommy “Tiny” Lister went on to cement his place in cinematic history playing the bad-ass bully Deebo in Ice Cube’s “Friday” films. Granted, he got “knocked the fuggout” in 1995, but this didn’t deter him from making a comeback two years later in 1997 as the President not just of the United States, but I assume of the entire Earth? President Lindberg is running the show in the mid 23rd century in this sci-fi flick starring Bruce Willis and Chris Tucker (not to mention the lovely Milla Jovovich as Leeloo Dallas multi-pass!), but not to be overlooked is the stern and fearless command of President Zeu… er… Deeb…er… Lindberg, who spends most of the movie at his desk getting fed information and making commands that end up having to be reversed. Well, at least he rocked a teal coat, so there’s that…

For lack of any President Lindberg clips, here’s Zeus cutting a promo for Summerslam ’89

Black POTUS: President Tom Beck
From: Deep Impact
Played by: The original “Easy Reader” himself, Andy Dufresne’s favorite cell-mate, formerly known as “Crazy Joe” a.k.a. Batman’s tech support guy, Mr. Morgan Freeman

I’ve never seen Deep Impact. From what I’ve heard of the movie (a meteor coming to destroy Earth? Didn’t they do that in Armageddon?) and the fact that it’s Morgan Freeman tells me he belongs on this list of notable Black POTUSes. But then again, this could also be Red from Shawshank or Lucius Fox from The Dark Knight. Morgan Freeman is one of those actors who doesn’t even need to act anymore,  just show up and give us two hours of Morgan Freeman. Damn, that’s power!

Black POTUS: President Mays Gilliam
From: Head of State
Played by: Former voice of Lil’ Penny, Chris Rock

Head of State is basically Pryor’s “First Black President” sketch extended into a full length feature film. Chris Rock adds his signature brand of hilarious one-liners to the proceedings and even gets a little acting in, wooing eventual First Lady Tamala Jones (I invite you to google image search her at your leisure) and trying to stay true to his roots as the Alderman by saving the local bus service from going on strike. Eventually his foray into politics brings Mays Gilliam to desperate measures as he chooses a running mate that is a surefire insurance policy for any black POTUS candidate– his brother, played by Original King of Comedy Bernie Mac (RIP). Between Rock, Mac, the ever-lovely Jones and Angela Bassett and the fresh inter-scene narrations sung by Nate Dogg (RIP), Head of State shows the ascension of Rock’s Gilliam to the top of the political ladder as the unlikeliest of firsts.

Check out the Gilliam brothers as they try to get their opponent to debate them.

Cradle of f%$^*n civilization!!

Black POTUS: President “Black Bush”
From: Chappelle Show
Played by: The funniest cast member from Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Dave Chappelle

Chappelle Show. Aluminum tubes! Yellow cake! Cradle of f$%^#n civilization! Who said somethin about oil, bitch, you cookin?! Red rocks!! Yay Yayeeeee!!!!

Little brother on the come-up. Wayne Palmer slides into the Oval Office on 24.

Black POTUS: President Wayne Palmer
From: 24
Played by: Wasn’t he on that VH1 show Single Ladies?, D.B. Woodside

Later in this list, we will sing the praises of President Allstate, but not to be overlooked is his younger brother Wayne Palmer, who picked up the baton on epic TV series 24. Wayne was on his brother’s Chief of Staff and was at his brother’s side when David was assassinated in a shocking season 5 premiere. He takes over as POTUS in season 6, negotiating Jack Bauer’s release from the Chinese government and does other cool presidential stuff until succumbing to a cerebral hemorrhage and falling into a coma by season’s end. Woodside can most recently be seen on VH1’s ratchet-ass show Single Ladies, which I stopped watching once Stacey Dash left because…well… you’ve seen her!

President Camacho
Brought to you by Brawndo… it’s got electrolytes!

Black POTUS: President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho
From: Idiocracy
Played by: Former insane Old Spice yelling guy, Terry Crews

Probably one of the funniest POTUSes ever of all time. Not only did he have like six names, this wild and unpredictable head of state had the freshest motorcade ever and his own entrance theme music a la the WWF! Between this movie and Office Space, Mike Judge is a genius. We’re not even gonna count Extract, ok?

President Martinez from the short-lived NBC series “The Event”

Black POTUS: President Elias Martinez
From: The Event
Played by: That guy from L.A. Law who played Russell Simmons in Krush Groove, Blair Underwood

Not to dis Blair Underwood, who is on the short list of actual black actors who are well respected across all demographics and was the guy who got to get down with Sheila E. on-screen back in the day (maaaaaan!), but I’ve never seen nor cared for “The Event”. NBC has this habit of making TV shows that nobody asked for and most of them are just washed down versions of more entertaining source material from other networks or media (read: “Heroes”, “Bionic Woman” and “Knight Rider” remakes, “The Cape”). From what I’m told “The Event” was basically a bland carbon copy of USA’s “The 4400” which was a tremendous series. Thankfully this was canceled so that NBC could give way to more snarkily written  multi-camera Modern Family knock-offs, because that’s all we want to see on TV are well-to-do yuppies whining about their snot-nosed tax deduct… sorry for ranting there… but Blair Underwood as a President should have been an event all on its own. Alas, maybe he’ll be re-cast as a POTUS elsewhere. Just keep away from any more Tyler Perry films, Blair…

And now, without further ado, the GOAT of Black POTUSes, in this author’s humble opinion…

R.I.P. President Palmer – the best to ever do it…

Black POTUS: President David Palmer
From: 24
Played by: Dennis Haysbert

Before we get into how and why President Palmer (RIP) is so awesome and deserves the top spot, let’s take a second to look back on the body of work of the man behind the suit…

He played Pedro Cerrano in Major League. (“Jesus, I like him very much, but he no help with curveball.”)
Pivotal roles in Waiting to Exhale as the guy who was shagging Whitney Houston and in Heat as the fry cook turned getaway driver for the crew
Various guest appearances on classic tv shows like Buck Rogers, The A-Team, 227 and Dallas
Did I also mention he was in Navy Seals, Mr. Baseball, Return to Lonesome Dove and Absolute Power (good flick, Eastwood and Hackman)??
And that voice… Mr. Haysbert has done work for various DC comics animated series as well as other cartoons and video games, plus who can forget he’s the Allstate guy?

But the reason he’s here is his turn as President David Palmer in 24. As much as we look back on that show and rave about Jack Bauer being such a bad-ass mofo willing to do whatever it takes to see the mission through, it’s just as amazing to see President Palmer take such great command over his administration. All the way back at Season One when he was still a senator running for the presidency and Bauer had to prevent an assassination attempt on his life, Palmer has carried the much needed gravitas throughout the show. He is one of the reasons it was so great to tune in week after week through the show’s first few seasons. Even with his brother screwing up while serving on his cabinet, his right hand men continually trying to back-stab him, his own First Lady negotiating with terrorists and all the way to the end when a chemical weapon attack rendered him unable to continue in office, President Palmer was the voice of reason and strength on that show.

The bond he had with Jack Bauer lasted all the way up until his dying moment in Season 5, when his life was abruptly ended by a sniper’s bullet. If you’re wondering how much President Palmer meant to Jack after all of that, well, let’s just say he showed said sniper no mercy when he caught up with him.

Haysbert went on to lead his own show “The Unit” on CBS, which was met with critical acclaim for several seasons until finally ending. He’s now enjoying life pitching Allstate and being recognized on the street as President Palmer (with the occasional Jobu joke sprinkled in, I’m sure).

In closing, Happy MLK Day, everyone! For a King, celebrate! Break it down Kurtis Blow!!

6 Comments Add yours

  1. NFCJD says:

    Fantastic article!

    Wait, you left Dennis Haysbert off the list.

  2. NFCJD says:

    Now the list is oddly much more complete. Awesome.

  3. Not sure Haysbert ever became potus on 24. Think he was killed before he took office. Been awhile since I watched it but was definitely one of the main reasons 24 was so good that first season. If haysbert doesn’t count then I’d go with Freeman.

    1. Will West says:

      Haysbert totally became President. You needed to watch past the first season. He only serves one term, however, ’cause his crazy ex-wife stirred up too much drama for him to win again. After he’s assassinated, his brother later wins the presidency.

  4. Terry Crews for sure, loved Idiocracy.

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