Morgan Freeman Says Barack Obama Isn’t Black Enough To Be The First Black US President


Morgan Freeman, who has been doing the media rounds lately in order to promote the theatrical release of the sequel film The Dark Knight Rises, paid a visit to the National Public Radio station for a sit down interview. Over the course of his discussion with Tell Me More host Michel Martin, Freeman started talking about President Barack Obama … and specifically how it is his personal opinion that Obama is not Black enough to be called our country’s first Black president. Because Obama’s mother is White, Freeman says, Obama cannot be classified as the first Black president of the United States of America. Hmm.

Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman joined Tell Me More host Michel Martin to discuss his new movie, The Magic of Belle Isle. But the prolific actor, famous for his roles in films such as The Shawshank Redemption, Million Dollar Baby and The Dark Knight, also had a lot to say about politics. 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.”

Keeping on the topic of politics, Morgan Freeman then offered his opinions about the Republican politicians in office:

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.”

Well now, it’s nice to see that Morgan Freeman isn’t shy about voicing his opinions. I can’t say that I agree with his assessment that President Obama isn’t Black enough to be called a Black president. IMHO, I don’t believe in varying degrees of ethnicity. Yes, President Obama has a Caucasian mother but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would seriously refer to Barack Obama as a Caucasian man. Honestly, I’m not sure what point Morgan Freeman is trying to make. Is he suggesting that because Obama isn’t Black enough, in his opinion, that progress was not made by his election? Is he suggesting that a “Black enough” president (ie. a president with two Black parents) will be better/more important than President Obama? Or, is he just offering his opinion … the end? Click HERE to listen to the full audio of Freeman’s interview on NPR and see what you think. Do you agree with him? Do you consider President Barack Obama our country’s first Black president?


  • JT

    I don’t think he was making any type of assessment on how good/bad of a president he is. He just stated the truth – President Obama is of mixed race. I didn’t read any judgment in the quote at all. And I think his opinion of the Republican party is completely accurate!

  • He was just stating the fact that he is a mixed race president not a “black” president. I understand exactly what he was saying. He was raised by mostly white people – so his experience is much different than the average black person. That is all I think he was trying to say.

    • @Christopher — What is the experience of an “average Black person”?

    • It is naive to think that there are not differences. I am in no way saying that either is better just saying of course there are differences. I think that is what Morgan is saying. There is a difference between a black man raised by white people and one raised by black people. Nothing is wrong with either way. For example, there are differences between my cousins and me. They were raised very differently then me. None of them graduated high school. They have struggled with drugs, pregnancy, etc. I had a different experience and a lot of that has to do with my parents. I don’t think I would be the person I am without them. Does that make sense? Would Barack Obama be the same if her were raised by black parents? No one will every know but Morgan is simple stating he thinks it would be a different story. He isn’t being negative, he is just speaking his truth. Either way – I will vote for Obama, not because he was black, raised by white people, but because I believe he has the heart and vision to steer our country. :)

    • Just because we don’t like the truth – doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Our president had an advantage growing up the way he did, in the time he did. He was born before the civil rights law of 64. Don’t you see how there was an advantage to growing up in a white family? I am sure it wasn’t easy for him but to compare the experiences of most black children/people, at that time, he was fortunate.

    • @Christopher — So you’re saying that the “average Black experience” is one of disadvantage? I completely disagree. It seems like you’re falling prey to stereotypes. Let’s talk about Michelle Obama. Both of her parents are African American, she was raised in South Side Chicago, she went to Princeton and Harvard Universities (where she met and fell in love with Barack Obama). Is she Black enough despite the fact that she didn’t suffer from disadvantage? I understand the point you are trying to make … that Barack Obama became president because he had advantages that other people did not … but none of that has to do with his “Blackness”.

    • LaToya

      That’s what I want to know as well………..I am black and I will never understand this average black person upbringing etc.. Frankly I’m glad I don’t understand.

    • I didn’t say that Trent. Read what I DID say, and try to understand the point I am making. Ask anyone black person who lived during the 60’s and 70’s most of them will tell you white people had the advantage.

      Let’s make it even easier. Most straight people have an advantage in the world. The world revolves around being straight. Today as gay people, we have it better than they did twenty years ago. Now change straight to WHITE and gay to BLACK.

      Black people were and still are disadvantaged compared to whites. It is unfortunate. But the world has evolved and will continue to do so. Hopefully none of this will be relevant in our future. But history tells the story – it may be an ugly history but it is accurate.

    • @Christopher — Yes, you keep making your point about advantage — which I understand. Whether Obama enjoyed advantages or suffered disadvantages has nothing to do with his ethnicity, which is the point of this entire discussion. Freeman believes that because Obama has a Caucasian mother, he cannot be called a Black president. I disagree. The end.

  • Erika

    This argument brings to light yet again the vapidity of RACE. It is a socially constructed term and has no substance(theres only one race, the human race). People are black based on they’re phenotype(how they look, appear, their complexion) regardless of their genotype…in other words, if you “look” black, you are.

    • @Erika — Yes, exactly.

    • Alys

      Beautifully said!

    • Lauren

      this is cute. i don’t see in colour! well, it’s a real thing. look up ‘white privilege’ and then spend the rest of your life seeing how it’s the case. you want to know why he’s a black president and not a mixed-race president? because in north america, white isn’t a race. it’s neutral, it’s pre-race, just as god made us. a blank slate. it’s only against this background that obama seems black. let me be clear that i do not believe that crap about whites being gods people or superior, that’s not at all what i’m trying to say. but while our sweet melty hearts want us good people to hold hands and be merry, resumes with ‘white sounding’ names get more interviews. more people of colour live below the poverty line than white people. all this hoopla about immigration in arizona. who is more likely to be asked to show their papers, a latino person or an english ex-pat? we can’t solve race problems until we can be real, until we can admit there is a problem. wishful thinking like this helps no one. if obama was half black and half chinese, you better believe they’d be calling him mixed, not black.

  • Erika


  • Janaegal

    My dad is black and my mom is Mexican. Most people are surprised to learn that I’m half black(even though when I tell them, I usually get a “oh, yeah, I can see that”). Because of how I look(lighter skin, I usually wear my hair straightened), I often get this attitude(from all races) that I’m not black. Ummm, yes I am. Youcan debate whether I’m black “enough”, as people have debated about Obama, but you can’t take away the fact that I am black. I’m also Hispanic, even though I don’t speak Spanish or fulfill other stereotypes people may assume. We do have a black president, he also happens to be white too. It doesn’t make him any less black, it’s not really about a percentage in my eyes. You are what you are.

    • Sandy

      You’re preaching to the choir! I’m a mixed girl as well, and I always get told I’m not black enough -_-

    • Tracy

      Very true ~ I have many mixed races in my family as well as among my friends. People are people no matter what their race. I’d bet you a $100 dollars if we looked into Morgan’s background we will find some mixture in his blood as well. If Obama isn’t black enough then just look how he is treated and disrespected, by the crazy right wingers and the tea baggers. They kill me questioning if Obama is truly an American. I think the Native Americans should stand at the borders, asking to see their proof of citizenship. After all they are the true American’s who have the right to be here.

  • Karen

    There are so many different opinions, perspectives, and experiences when it comes to race, and especially mixed-race identities.

    I’m close friends with a family consisting of a white woman, black man, and their two young adult kids who have always been adamant about being “mixed race” rather than either black or white. They both look black.

    Another woman in my life had a black mother and a white father. Her father abandoned them early on and she has no relationship with him. She was raised in a black community and identifies as black, not mixed. She looks white. (This story parallels Obama’s, but how they ended up identifying themselves differs.)

    Obama used to be more publicly embracing of his mixed race identity, but once he began running for president I noticed he shifted to focusing on his black identity. But he wasn’t the only one doing this — the press and various parts of the public emphasized his blackness, too. Obviously, there are A LOT of reasons for this, too many even to summarize.

    The focus on Obama’s blackness made me sad that his mother’s heritage and his own history were being rendered invisible, and sad for all of the factors that made his blackness more salient than his whiteness. But those same factors, the reasons why it mattered and matters that he identifies as black – and is identified by others as black – make me glad that he is.

    However, I feel that each person is entitled to define his or her own identity. So my opinions on how he identifies don’t matter, whether I support him or not.

    Still, Freeman’s comments don’t bother me. I’m glad he said them. The issues surrounding race and racial identity in this country are so far from being resolved. His comments point to some of them.

  • sandbot

    I think it’s a misstatement to title the post as “Freeman Says Barack Obama Isn’t Black ENOUGH” when he was merely pointing out that Obama is a person of mixed race. Whether or not we’d like to believe there are levels of race it’s naive to think people don’t react differently to others based on one’s ethnic background. We might never know if america would have voted for a black candidate who was raised by black parents in the ghetto. But as a half white person he may have had opportunities that individuals who grew up with an all-black family rarely have. Nonetheless, I do commend Obama for making the most of those opportunities and think he is a better candidate for it in the long run. But the not black “enough” comment seems to unnecessarily fuel the fire for someone who clearly meant no ill-will.

    • @sandbot — I disagree. Freeman makes it clear that because Obama has a White mother, he isn’t “Black enough” to be considered the first Black president.

    • Kristin

      Does he ever actually say that, though? The term “black enough”? Because if not, you’re putting words into his mouth.

    • Ella

      @Kristin-I agree with you. I’m not even sure what ‘black enough’ in any way context even means. The color of his skin? The way he acts? I’ve been told I’m not black enough, because of how I speak and the only white person I know of in my family is my great grandmother and there are no traces of her in me whatsoever.

      There is no reason why a person who is mixed should have to choose between the race of his father or the race of his mother, denying one side simply to appease society’s desire to label based on appearances and preconceived notions.

  • Alys

    Morgan Freeman’s statements about the obstructiveness of the Republican Party are spot on, and I think he makes a legitimate point that the racial card gets used as a reason for certain conservative white lawmakers to refuse to work with Obama at every turn and every stage.

    But he’s not a black man? That statement makes me boil. What, does he have to demonstrate genetic purity going back seven generations without one iota of Caucasian or Amerindian or Asian DNA? Guess what, plenty of people including (famously) Thomas Jefferson’s descendants, show varying degrees of African ancestry even if they don’t appear to be black. Yes, in a sense, he _is_ mixed race because his mother was white and that entitled him to certain privileges that child whose parents were both black might not have had. On the other hand, he experienced a whole different set of social pressures as did his parents, and I would not think his upbringing was prejudice or discrimination free.

    Half of racial identity seems to be perception. And perception is nearly impossible to argue with, because in effect it’s one person telling another they are thinking and feeling wrong. That’s a dangerous, arrogant position to take in my mind. How can one be “black?” Does the President -perceive- himself to be black, does he identify with the cultural elements of his African American heritage? Is he embracing his father’s background as much as his mother’s? All these questions are loaded and very difficult to ascertain without asking the POTUS himself, and I would far rather spend the time and breath inquiring about his policies and intentions on critical decisions in an election year where the lame ducks in Congress want nothing more than to throw money at one another in a barrage of negativity.

  • Oscar in Miami Beach

    Is Michelle Obama black enough also even when her great-grand father was a mulatto with a white father?.It will be difficult to find an american-born black that he/she is not a mulatto,a quadroon or any of the other black-in-your-ancestors classification.,specially if he/she parentage,going way back,has no white blood running on their veins.Only newly arrived immigrants may be and I say maybe totally black.The mixing goes even to Africa and the colonial powers control of the continent and the people.I respect Mr Freeman but this comments are as dumb as the Republicans hate-laced ones about Mr Obama.

  • fmx

    In predominantly white male politics, I doubt he had the easiest time working his way up the ladder. I don’t get what point Morgan is trying to make, a very outdated attitude? They both share the same ancestry/history so I don’t see what difference it makes if it’s one or less than the other. I think that is why he gets the ‘black’ president label is because he is a part of the bigger picture. I also dislike the perception some people make that you have to have a difficult life to be considered black (as in the Michelle Obama example above). It goes against all progress.

  • Ashstar

    Sadly most stereotypes about Blacks comes from other Blacks.
    I am Black, so don’t get me started…

    I consider Obama mix, but society judge people by how they look on the outside.

    Secondly, why is it always about Blacks or Whites. No one is asking mix Asian/White or other mixture to states which race they prefer to be call or associate with or represent etc…

  • Jazzbeast

    Should the differentiating factor be Pres. Obama has no ancestors who were slaves? In the US, first impressions are based solely on color. I do not use the term “African-American” because my experience is 100% of Caucasians use the term to avoid saying Black. I constantly hear African and Caribbean nationals described as “African-American.” Would they refer to any European national as a hyphenated American?

  • Gal Capone

    “IMHO, I don’t believe in varying degrees of ethnicity. Yes, President Obama has a Caucasian mother but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would seriously refer to Barack Obama as a Caucasian man.” I doubt anyone would call him a Caucasian man but the reality is that he is, in fact, a mixed race man. I don’t see (nor did I hear him speak those words more importantly) Morgan Freeman as saying he isn’t Black enough. He’s just not discounting 1/2 of his parentage. If he was Chinese/Black, Korean/White or any host of mixed race possibilities would he be labeled the first whatever race he most looked like?

  • JCZ

    I can’t reply cause I’m on a phone, but Erika, you’re comment is hands down the greatest thing I’ve read this week – no offense Trent or Shannon!

    I wish everyone could it that way.

  • Jessicagiovanna

    Actors should stick to acting.

  • claire

    My “interracial” or “inter-ethnic” (or whatever buzzword people are using at the moment) marriage seems to matter to everyone else BUT my husband and I.

    Before too long, we won’t even be able to classify people this way. We’ll just be homosapiens.

    I have Irish, French, German, and English ancestors but I’m just “white.” What the hell would my kids be if I ever have any? Race will be irrelevant and impossible to determine!

  • Rolltideguy77

    Morgan Freeman married his step-granddaughter.

  • Jake

    It’s probably a cultural thing but where I live in England when we think of Obama we consider his ethnicity to be ‘Mixed-Race’ rather than ‘Black’ but American historically has had the ‘single drop policy’ where anyone with any African heritage is considered black, So certainly by American standards Obama is the first Black president, it is just also true that he is Mixed-Race and that is how certain groups and people would classify him.

  • Cat

    The really funny part of this is if Obama stood up tomorrow and declared himself anything but black this country’s head would just pop right off. And besides if you’re a black man sporting a full array of freckles you shouldn’t be commenting o the “purity” of someones race…

  • Ella

    I think people are misinterpreting what Mr. Freeman has said and the title of the article seems to paint him in a bad light.

    He did not say President Obama isn’t black enough. In fact I think he made a very good point when he said people seem to forget the President had a very white mother who raised him to be the man he is. Saying he is black is denying half of who he is. We have chosen to label him according to the color of his skin.
    If he was just a guy walking down the street, yeah he’d just be a black guy. If he was pulled over by the cops, yeah he’d just be a black guy.
    I think the point Freeman is trying to make is we cannot ignore half of this man’s history and ancestry based solely on his physical appearance.
    He is our first Mixed race President. He’s our first President of color. I personally don’t call him those things. I just call him the President. No matter what else he is labeled with, for right now it is his most important role.

  • James

    Really though, howm many other people got here by googling:

    Barack Obama isn’t black

    can’t be just me.

  • Kkisses

    All American Blacks are mixed in some way shape or form.. If anything our president is more African than we are because his father is a FULL blooded African.. So I think that qualifies him as Black thank you..