Fear of a Black President

Fictional occupants of the White House.

Barack Obama may be our first black president, but as Clarence Lusane writes in The Black History of the White House (City Lights), pop culture has long fantasized about African-American chief executives. We’ve compiled a slideshow of some fictional occupants of this esteemed office.

James Roy Wilde

Imagined in: O Presidente Negro, 1926 Brazilian sci-fi novel set in United States

Rise to Power: Elected in 2228, when white vote splits between sex-segregated eugenicist parties. Dies mysteriously before he can take the oath of office.

Image: Claridad Coleccion

Douglas Dilman

Imagined in: Irving Wallace’s 1964 novel The Man, later a movie starring James Earl Jones

Rise to Power: House speaker Dilman assumes office after president and veep die. Impeached for uppityness.

Image: Everett Collection

Mays Gilliam

Imagined in: Head of State, a forgettable 2003 Chris Rock comedy.

Rise to Power: Cynical Dems nominate Gilliam as a sure loser. Blue comedy and economic populism win over voters.

Image: Dreamworks

David Palmer

Imagined in: 24, a post-9/11 torture-porn TV drama.

Rise to Power: Beats incumbent, gets poisoned. Sits out election, gets shot by sniper dispatched by his former VP.

Image: Fox

Tom Beck

Imagined in: Deep Impact, 1998 disaster flick starring Morgan Freeman.

Rise to Power: Declares martial law as comet heads toward Earth. Rebuilds US Capitol after tsunami wipes out East Coast.

Image: Globe Photos/Zuma

Robby Jackson

Imagined in: Tom Clancy’s 2003 thriller The Teeth of the Tiger

Rise to Power: VP Jackson assumes office when prez retires. Assassinated by KKK member.

Jim Brisken

Imagined in: Philip K. Dick’s 1966 sci-fi novel The Crack in Space

Rise to Power: Elected in 2080. Domestic racial issues take a backseat to conflict with a hominid race on “alter-Earth.”

Credit: Ace Books/Coverbrowser.com



Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend