As an ad, Barack Obama’s 1991 public service announcement on Black History Month for TBS is terrible: The 29-year-old Obama — then the editor of the Harvard Law Review — faces the camera, reads a terrifically boring script about the role of lawyer Charles Hamilton Houston in securing the Brown v. Board of Education decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, and … er, that’s it.
But as a piece of TV history, it’s weirdly compelling: Obama’s voice is deeper and more authoritative than it is now, possibly because in the ensuing 20 years he has tried to give up smoking.
It’s Obama’s first ever appearance on TV, five years before he ran for a state Senate seat in Illinois:
And is that a tie-and-collar pin he’s wearing? (Skewering your shirt collar and tie knot with a metal bar was trendy in the 1980s.) And check out the scenery behind him. No fake law library for TBS! Instead, he appears to be broadcasting from the surface of an alien planet constructed for an episode of Star Trek.
The rest, is history …
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