A More Perfect Union: Black Freedoms, White Houses

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-12-29 03:06Z by Steven

A More Perfect Union: Black Freedoms, White Houses

Public Culture
Volume 28, Number 1, January 2016
pages 63-87
DOI: 10.1215/08992363-3325016

Jasmine Nichole Cobb, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

President Barack Obama signifies both the power of the institutional presidency and the legacy of black freedom struggles. His post in the White House provides an opportunity to think through the process by which these themes became intertwined and the manner in which the US presidency became a site for resolving the black freedom struggle. This essay traces the routes through which the US state, in the form of the presidency, appropriated black images to suppress autonomous black freedom struggles and promote less threatening racial narratives. It critiques the production and reproduction of black freedom imagery for state utility. The materials investigated reveal the value of black visibility to state interests at key moments in US race relations—namely, during slavery, enfranchisement, and national elections.

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