Words by Priscilla Ward
Photography sourced from WikiCommons
For the past eight years, President Barack Obama was that dude. The guy that exuded a poised sense of confidence whenever he spoke, kept cool and moved with the same agility as Kobe Bryant. In 2009, when he took our country’s most sacred oath, he stepped confidently into the spotlight and enabled us to see the highest vision of ourselves. He shifted social and cultural paradigms, including the ones we leveraged as excuses for holding ourselves back. He changed the tone of politics, using language true to us and unapologetic to his own brand of Blackness.
He coached us from afar on the power of putting forth your most authentic self, inspiring many through his love for his family and pushing us to take our personal excellence to the next level. He made it permissible for us to showcase the nuances of our Blackness, without feeling ashamed or as though we simply didn’t belong in certain spaces.
While we do recognize that he will be changing addresses, he will always be our first Black president.
His playbook is a legacy undoubtedly one worth emulating.
Our 44th president helped set a new precedent when it comes to style, class and grooming. And he did so, not just with his swag and overall aesthetic, but also with his very approach to life.
As we bid our goodbyes [for now], we’ve rounded up a few of the top moments that hit a high mark throughout his presidency.
“My President Is Black”
He welcomed us to the White House on his Inauguration Day back in 2008. That day, it felt as though we could now have access and finally have our voices heard.
He made it clear that he was making a way for us during his powerful inauguration speech.
“On this day we gather because we have chosen hope over fear unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises the recriminations and warn out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics,” he said.
He Brought Basketball To The White House
Obama has been referred to as O’Bomber, a clever play off his last name. Literally, there’s a basketball court in his house ready for pickup games. From the moment we were first introduced to him as a senator on the campaign trail, to his final days in the oval office, his love for basketball made him even more relatable, playing a game that has long united Black men. He let us know that he was indeed capable of keeping it cool, both on and off the court. It felt as though we could approach him for a round of H.O.R.S.E.
He Always Kept it 100
While remaining the president of the United States during some of our nations toughest times, he responded to issues of police brutality and racial discourse in a way that didn’t stirrup strife, but instead provided a sense of comfort and calm.
A hallelujah rose from within him while he was giving the eulogy for Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney, a victim of the mass shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C. He led the church in an “Amazing Grace” chorus. His grace amidst tough storms kept us pushing onward.
He Knew What Was Cool
Obama made important strides when it came to intersecting politics and pop culture. Unlike most other administrations before his, hip-hop was not just heard, but celebrated through those historic halls. We heard everyone from Stevie Wonder to Jay-Z, to the incomparable cast of Broadway’s HAMILTON. Last year, he sat down with Kendrick Lamar in the oval office, just one of the many hip-hop artists who have been given the opportunity to sit in the oval office during his presidency. On top of building that important bridge by providing artists a safe space to express their music, he’s hosted some of the most lit parties granting us permission to feel right at home.
Let’s not forget that one time when there was a giant swag surfing moment. Clearly, our president was paying attention to what was happening in popular culture in a way that no other president had before.
He Had All The Jokes
He was all about throwing a bit of shade with tack. He had us laughing when he dropped the word “heezy.” Last year, when he attended his final White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, he went in during the annual roasting session. He ended the roasting session with the words “Obama out,” then, literally dropped the mic.
His Love and Respect for His Family Was A Reflection of His Own Self-Love
Imagine what it must of meant to be married under an Obama administration. The manifestation of the power of Black love represented on a daily basis, proving its success and manifesting its power. We literally saw the Obama’s love story unfold before our eyes, dismantling those who ever suggested that Black love only ended in failed marriages.
We watched him lead not only the nation, but also his family, sharing special moments with his daughters Sasha and Malia, as well as intimate ones with Michelle. His example of Black love was a radical form of resistance, reflected not just in his home life, but it was also evident in how he respected himself and those around him. He cared.
Though our next president more than likely won’t play Kendrick, Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé, Jeezy and Basketball at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, let us not lose hope. The life lessons Obama has taught us will undoubtedly carry us through the next four years, and his legacy is one that is sturdy and firmly shaped for generations to come.