At first I thought, "Wow, he really said that?" My next instinct was to search for the original source and see what he said in context. I quickly discovered where the source of the news originated, but my understanding of the statement changed when I listened to the full show.
I made the image above to prove my point when it comes to taking things out of context. We often see big print, but not the whole picture. I transcribed the full Q & A portion of the interview with regard to President Obama. Here is the major excerpt of the article that supports the statement used as a title:
He was especially interested in talking about President Obama, and why Freeman thinks he should not be called America's first black president.
"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."
Many of Freeman's films explore important chapters of African-American history: Amistad was about the trans-Atlantic slave trade; Driving Miss Daisy was set in the civil rights era; and Glory centered on an all-black regiment in the Civil War.
Freeman says he has been disappointed by what he considers unfair treatment of Obama by his political opponents.
"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."
The article neglected to mention the questions asked by Michel Martin and the framework of the responses. Below is a full transcript of the interview portion regarding President Obama.
Martin: Wanted to just ask you if you don’t mind? You’ve starred in a lot of films that tap into important moments in African American history. The Amistad, Driving Miss Daisy which is about the civil rights era, uh Glory of course about the all black regiment in the civil war, and I am just interested in your thoughts if you don’t mind sharing them about where we are now. You know first African American president and on the one hand he’s there and on the other hand we have kind of a lot of very racially charged episodes that are right now in the news. Do you see a film in this?
Freeman: Well there is certainly a story in this? Uhm…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 what’s his name, Donald trump, and this whole thing that he’s resurfacing. But all these people, whether he’s born here. Yeah, uhm…they just conveniently forget that barack had a mama and she was white. Very white American, Kansas middle of America. There was no argument about who he is and what he is. uh. America’s first black president hasn’t arisen yet. He is not America's first black president. He’s America’s first mixed race president. I tell Bill Clinton he is Americas first black president and of course he laughs, but I’m ….I don’t know what to say about this situation anymore.
Freeman: 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 only serves one term.” That means they will not cooperate with him on anything. So to say he's ineffective is a misappropriation of the facts.
Martin: Are you heartened or disheartened by our current circumstances.?
Freeman: I’m disheartened. I am thoroughly upset by it. Uhm…but we will prevail. I think that the uh the public at large, watching…listening, when it comes down to it will say, “Now…now wait a minute, what they’re talking about is nonsense.”
Martin: What lesson if any do you draw from your own career uhm just looking again and refreshing myself on your really remarkable body of work. I mean you’ve had a number of roles wear your own racial identity was central and you’ve had a number a roles, powerful roles where it…it was…
Martin: Meaningless, so I’m just wondering what do you draw from your own career in terms of the arc of the racial story of this country?
Freeman: I’m not sure that I draw anything from my career and I’m …I just lucky but when Barack was elected president a good portion of the country broke into tears because it was proof that we are really Americans. That we are who we say we are and I thought at the time, “Okay we can pretty much stop talking about race here in this country and concentrate on growth.” (Pause) Didn’t turn out that way.
The NPR staff written article narrowed down a small portion of the interview and the radio show I heard narrowed the information down even further.
Mr. Freeman made the statement in an attempt to defend President Obama's nationality. As for America's first black president? I agree that there will never be a "black" president because only dead people with rotting skin are black. The color of skin on homo sapiens sapiens varies in the reflections of light, literally and figuratively.
So Morgan Freeman was correct in saying there is no black president, but he was also correct when he said Bill Clinton is black when you look at some of the definitions floating around concerning "black" America.
That discussion is for another post.