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A curation of stuff to help you cope with premature Barack Obama nostalgia

From The New Yorker to VIBE to OUT, the president’s story is still in its first draft

Man, I’m going to miss President Barack Obama. Happy birthday, Mr. President.

May 2007

The New Yorker

By Lissa McFarquhar

The Conciliator

“Obama rose to prominence at the 2004 Democratic Convention, describing his life as a celebration of the American dream: a ‘skinny kid with a funny name,’ the product of an improbably idealistic union between an African man and a girl from Kansas, he rose out of obscurity to attend Harvard Law School and would go on — it was by then clear — to become the third black U.S. senator since Reconstruction. But in another sense his life runs directly counter to the American dream, rejecting the American dreams of his parents and grandparents, in search of something older.”

September 2007


By Jeff Chang

It’s Obama Time

“Near his desk is an encased pair of bright red Everlast boxing gloves, signed by Muhammad Ali. Above them hangs a framed poster of Ali towering over a prone Sonny Liston, after the famous “phantom punch” in the first round of their 1965 rematch, when Ali is screaming at the former champion to stand up and fight. Here is the other side of Senator Obama: The baller who still enjoys throwing ’bows on the basketball court. The high-roller who raised $56 million from over 250,000 donors in the first half of 2007 to lead all candidates in the paper chase. The man who could become the first Black president.”

July 2008

The New Yorker

By Ryan Lizza

Making It: How Chicago Shaped Obama

“Obama voted — a parliamentary error, Obama says — to block funding for a child-welfare facility in Hendon’s district. Hendon rose and criticized Obama for the vote. The two men became embroiled in a yelling match on the Senate floor that looked as if it might become physical; they were separated by Courtney Nottage, then the chief of staff for Emil Jones. Nottage led Obama off the floor to a room that legislators used to make telephone calls. “It looked like two men that were having a serious disagreement and they had walked up to one another really close,” Nottage told me. “I didn’t think anything good could come of that.”

“There are some things about being president that I still have difficulty doing,” he said. “For example, faking emotion. Because I feel it is an insult to the people I’m dealing with.”
November 2008

Make Literary Magazine

Obama Responses/Ephemera

Watching Barack Obama,

thinking of John Brown, mouldering

150 years in his grave, up and antic


more alive this day, than ever in his own.

No man walks on water

but a few make history

which, sometimes, is no less miraculous.

October 2012

Vanity Fair’s Hive

By Michael Lewis

Obama’s Way

“Why doesn’t he show more emotion? He does this on occasion, even when I’ve put the question clearly — see in what I’ve asked some implicit criticism, usually one he’s heard many times before. As he’s not naturally defensive, it’s pretty clearly an acquired trait. ‘There are some things about being president that I still have difficulty doing,’ he said. ‘For example, faking emotion. Because I feel it is an insult to the people I’m dealing with. For me to feign outrage, for example, feels to me like I’m not taking the American people seriously. I’m absolutely positive that I’m serving the American people better if I’m maintaining my authenticity. And that’s an overused word. And these days people practice being authentic. But I’m at my best when I believe what I am saying.’ ”

November 2012


Emily Raboteau

Daughters of Obama


“The Obamas had left only two weeks before I arrived in Accra, and their trace was everywhere. You couldn’t take a tro-tro ride without passing by a shiny yellow billboard plastered with Barack Obama’s face. Usually he was pictured next to the Ghanaian president of the time, John Atta Mills, against a backdrop of the U.S. and Ghanaian flags, the red and white stripes of the one dissolving into the black star of the other, as if to suggest the historical link between the two nations. But you might also spot Obama smiling on Independence Avenue or Liberation Road with Michelle by his side, like fairy godparents of industry, perched above businesses with names like CHRIST IS IN ME FASHIONS, or BUT SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD CONSTRUCTION WORKS or NAKED I CAME CHOP BAR. CHANGE HAS COME, the billboards announced. And also, AKWAABA. Welcome Home.”

November 2015


By Aaron Hicklin

President Barack Obama: Ally of the Year

“ ‘I also think that it’s important for us to acknowledge our own history. In the United States we talk a lot about working to perfect our union. And there is a lot of work to be done with respect to civil rights in the United States — for African-Americans, LGBT people, for many others. When I travel around the world and speak to foreign audiences, I think it is helpful when I acknowledge our own shortcomings and speak honestly about our history and the lessons we’ve learned along the way instead of pretending that we have all the answers. I think it also helps build the trust and openness we need to work together as countries to meet a whole range of challenges.’ ”



By Maya Rhodan

Obama in Conversation with Misty Copeland

“[W]hen you’re a dad of two daughters you notice more. When I was a kid I didn’t realize as much, or maybe it was even a part of which is the enormous pressure that young women are placed under in terms of looking a certain way. And being cute in a certain way. And are you wearing the right clothes? And is your hair done the right way. And that pressure I think is historically always been harder on African-American women than just about any other women. … And so Michelle and I are always guarding against that. And the fact that they’ve got a tall, gorgeous mom who has some curves, and that their father appreciates, I think is helpful.”


Marie Claire

By Sophie Tighe

President Obama’s 20 Funniest Moments in Office

Tierra R. Wilkins is an associate editor for The Undefeated. She likes to eat fries with her ketchup.