As was the case with the last two Presidents Day holidays, it’s somewhat difficult to enjoy the holiday off considering that the “human” we’re constitutionally mandated to call president is the equivalent of a Mack truck full of lit TNT rolling into a fireworks factory next to a fine china shop. Fortunately, I’m here to help you take your mind off of that with a list of six of the best black presidents we’ve ever known. I’d put money on all of them to run the country better than the mope we have in the Oval Office right now.
6. Mays Gilliam (Head of State)
Chris Rock’s record with starring film roles has been spotty at best, and Head of State isn’t winning any awards anytime soon. But the film, in which Rock’s Mays Gilliam ascends the ranks to eventually become president (complete with his own Mount Rushmore bust), has moments that far exceed the sum of their parts. His stump speech, in which he suggests that people beat their kids to get them in line behaviorally, is vintage Chris Rock humor, in that it was funny as hell back then but hasn’t aged so well.
5. Tom Beck (Deep Impact)
It was a full decade before we had an actual Black president, so Morgan Freeman’s Tom Beck still felt pipe-dreamy, if progressive. Hearing Freeman’s authoritative, presidential voice in not-Armageddon still inspires, which makes sense because who would you rather have as your Black president if not Freeman. Dude has also played God and will probably also depict Barack Obama in film someday, decades after Obama himself passes away. Also, a Black president named Tom, though…?
4. Black Bush (Chappelle’s Show)
Forget about the double entendre for a second. Dave Chappelle’s take on George W. Bush is probably a top-10 skit from the show’s run. Watching it again will remind you how much we actually hated Bush even though his meet-cutes with Michelle Obama had some of us amnesia, but you will laugh if you have a pulse. Shout out to Jamie Foxx and Mos Def for their from-outta-nowhere appearances, as well as the line, “Do I need to tell you what the f— you can do with an aluminum tube??!”
3. President Camacho (Idiocracy)
Idiocracy was a quaint little idea back in 2006 when we had a president who could at least count to 20. The film’s premise is scary now, since on some level you can actually imagine the president pulling out and shooting an automatic weapon to shut everyone up during his speech, like Terry Crews’ Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho. The role also solidified Crews’ role as a formidable comedic actor worthy of more than “Musclebound Honcho #2” roles.
2. David Palmer (24)
Dennis Haysbert is six-foot-four and sounds like what Lindt dark chocolate might sound like if it had a voice. It only makes sense that he wound up the first popular Black president of the 21st century, just a couple years before we would be introduced to Barack Hussein. It’s trash that they killed off Palmer before the show ended, even though he was no longer president on the show. Like, fam, the first Black president couldn’t even make it through the life of the show??
Barack Obama (Actual president)
Remember the dude you dated in college who loved every inch of you, would do anything to make you happy and was thrilled to massage your feet after a hard day of studying? And you know how you actually married the trifling n—a who leaves his toenail clippings at the foot of the couch and makes googly-eyes at your best friend every time she’s around? That’s an analogue for what we’re enduring now with our last and current presidents. We didn’t deserve Barack Obama, but we love him dearly and we miss him. And, like that college boyfriend you didn’t appreciate and is now married to someone else, we can’t have Obama back. Frankly, it hurts just a bit.
Dustin J. Seibert is a native Detroiter living in Chicago. Miraculously, people have paid him to be aggressively light-skinned via a computer keyboard for nearly two decades. He loves his own mama slightly more than he loves music and exercises every day only so his French fry intake doesn’t catch up to him. Find him at his own site, wafflecolored.com.