The last time Morgan Freeman saw a black president, it was when he played President Beck in 1998’s “Deep Impact.”
At least that’s what you’d think from the interview he did with “Tell Me More” host Michel Martin on NPR that was broadcast Thursday.
The Oscar-winner - whose films including the slave-trade drama “Amistad” and “Glory” which followed an all-black Civil War regiment have explored numerous chapters of African American history - said Barack Obama is not the first black president.
“All of the people who are setting up this barrier for him - what’s his name? - Donald Trump and the whole thing that he’s resurfacing,” Freeman said.
Martin, who invited Freeman on the program to discuss his new film “The Magic of Belle Isle,” coaxed him along, reminding him of the “birther” issue, which challenges the validity of Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate. Many critics have said the ’birther“ issue has racial overtones.
”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.“
Freeman then joked that he had called Bill Clinton the first black president, following novelist Toni Morrison’s famous comparison of the 42nd chief executive’s poor upbringing in Arkansas to an African-American child.
But, resigning himself to the inevitably volatile campaign season on the horizon, Freeman said he was ”disheartened.“
”I don’t know what to say anymore about this whole situation, he is being purposely - purposely - thwarted by the Republican party who started out the beginning of his tenure by saying we’re going to do whatever is necessary to make sure that he only serves one term,“ he said. ”That means they will not cooperate with him on anything. So to say that he’s ineffective is a misappropriation of the facts.“