Archive for the Barack Wins the Nobel Prize Category

Pete Souza’s Images of the Obama Years!

Posted in Obamas The Way Pete Sousa Saw Them, On Domestic Terrorism with tags , on October 18, 2020 by playthell

The Time of Her Life! A 106 Year Old Senior Dances With the First Lady

Photography as a Cultural Document and Political Weapon

From the moment the great Afro-American Abolitionist activist orator/writer Frederick Douglass saw the new art of photography, introduced to America by the black New Orleans photographer Jules Lion, who had worked with it’s inventor in Paris, Douglass recognized it’s potential as a powerful weapon to fight the racist images of black Americans propagated by white Americans in drawings, dolls and the developing black face minstrel show. We were provided a powerful example of Douglass’ vision in action in the marvelous television  special featuring selected images from the almost two million photographs of the Obamas, shot by the official White House photographer.

If you missed “The Way I See It,”  an hour- long documentary on MSNBC featuring the photographs and commentary of Pete Souza, the White House photographer for the entire eight years of the Obama Administration, you slept on a great cultural event.  Many of the photographs that we all loved – like the fist bump with the Hispanic cleaner in the White House, and the little 5 year old black boy who wanted to rub President Obama’s head, to see if Obama’s hair was the same as his – and all those magical love scenes between Barack and Michelle…REAL LOVE, not that staged fake BS between Don that Con and Melania Mannequin – were shot by Pete Souza.

Real Love!

The Kinda Love that You feel…..

****When you feel what you never felt before!

As a lover of photography, and having shot a few thousand pictures, I was especially moved by Mr. Souza’s work because his approach to photography is the same as mine. I am not a big fan of posed pictures – although it is an art and some great artists have produced stunning works. But when I had my exhibition “The Elegance of Afro-Americans,”* I sought to capture our folks just going bout their business lookin good the way we do it!

Pete Souza’s work is guided by this approach to his job as White House photographer. And what he produced is a treasure trove of marvelous images. Which standing alone testifies to President Obama’s generosity of spirit, his sense of humor, his love and concern for the American people. Mr. Souza also produced poignant images that captured President Obama’s devotion to his children…and his profound love for ALL children.

Hangin with da Boyz

Happy and Nappy

Black Like Me?
Barack Loves the Babies!

Truth be Told….He’s a Baby Whisperer….Cause they Can Sense it

He also shows how the Obama girls Melia and Sasha, received the best of parenting; how they were molded and polished like black diamonds by  two fabulous black women: His wife and her wise mother under whose guidance cultivated Michelle into the  formidable woman she is.

 Obama and His Ladies: Michelle, Sasha and Melia

America’s Black, Brown and Beige First Family

Watching their family life as it unfolded, not staged scenes for the publicity mill like the photographs we see from the Trump White House, we recognize how much the nation has lost, our moral decline, now that the Obama’s have been replaced by a mobbed up real estate flim flam man from the Big Apple and his Euro-trash wife.

A college dropout, and soft porn model who lied about having a college degree in “architectural design,” Melania is so stupid she actually read Michelle Obama’s speech verbatim claiming it was her own.  Alas,  while Michelle was a successful Harvard trained corporate lawyer, who once mentored Barack in the law, the Mannequin’s greatest accomplishment is hooking the trick of a lifetime and accidently becoming America’s First Lady….with critical Russian help.  The disastrous fall from highly accomplished, Ivy League educated, meritocrats, to white trash with money in the White House, is poignantly portrayed in the photographic record of Pete Sousa.  The photos speak for themselves.

The Portrait of Barack Obama in his official role as Chief Executive of the USA, is compelling.  We are provided a bird’s eye view of the inner workings of the Obama Administration at critical moments in the history of the United States.  Here Mr. Souza’s voice over commentary adds powerful perspective to the visual images he created.  We are there in the situation room when the Islamic Jihadist leader Osama Bin Laden – master mind of the 9/11 terrorist attack – was taken out.  We watch President Obama save the American auto industry from collapse, in his efforts to salvage the economy from the mess the Republicans made under George Bush, and we witness the trial and tribulations of the ordeal mirrored in his face and body language.  But we also witness the joy and jubilation President Obama and his Democratic colleagues experience when thy achieved major victories like the passage of the Affordable Care Act aka “Obamacare.”

Commanding the Daring Take Down of Osama Bin Ladin


Applauding the Brilliance of Speaker Pelosi in Passing Obamacare

Then there are the lighter moments that tell us so much about the character of President Obama and his First lady.  Like the time during the Second Inauguration ceremony when Souza asked Barack if he could join he and Michelle in the presidential limousine, and he said no, because they were planning on “making out” in the back seat during the procession down the boulevard!   And the time he was playing a one on one mano a mano game of basketball with his assistant Reggie Love.

Posterizing Reggie!!!

Barack Replaced the Bowling Alley with A B-Ball Court
The President Confronts the King on His Court

Souza pointed out that although Barack failed to make the starting five on his High-school basket-ball squad in Hawaii, and was six inches shorter that the former star of the formidable Duke University varsity basketball team, Barack, whom we see had mad hops from other shots of  him in action on the court, blocked Reggie’s shot!   And Souza says President Obama asked if he had captured the block and insisted that he blow the photograph up to poster size and hang it on the White house Wall.  He says Barack was the most competitive player he had seen.

Interestingly enough, it was Barack’s basketball game that won over her father and brother.  Her father had always counselled her brother that if you want to take the measure of a man’s character get him on the basketball court. A view that no doubt flowed from the glorious Basketball tradition of Black Chicago.  And as a Princeton basketball star, and Division I basketball coach, he had quite an insight into what a player’s game said about their character.  Amazingly, what he saw in Barack on the Basketball court, and reported to Michelle,  turned out to be a reliable indicator of the way he behaved as husband and father. And how he acted as President.

The fact that Pete Souza became fonder of Barack the more he saw of him – and having total unfettered access he saw a lot – tells us volumes about the kind of man President Obama was.  For there is more than a little truth in the old adage: “No man is a hero to his butler!”  Well, Souza had  more access to the President than any British Butler ever had to the princes and powers that ruled Great Britain.  And yet his admiration grew into genuine affection.   Indeed,  Souza has published two books of his photographs, one of which is titled “Shade,” where he adds captions to his photographs candidly showing the contrast between President Obama and Dirty Donnie Dimwit – as man and politician.

Souza shows that Barack is one of the very few men who can walk as an equal with kings; yet retain the common touch.  This is demonstrated over and again in word and images from almost two million photographs, the way Souza sees it in this graphic gift to the world, this generous spiritual benefaction, that will never stop giving. Future historians will find this a pearl of inestimable value, which delights Pete Souza, who rightly considers his work “a first draft of history.”



Playthell G. Benjamin
 Harlem, New York
 October 17, 2020

 How Souza Saw it Through His Camera Lens

My Favorite Things…

Obviously, with two million photographs to choose from, all of them with a special beauty, one is overwhelmed by the embarrassment of riches.  Hence selecting among them must be viewed as nothing more than the reflection of one’s biases, a reflection of personal.  And has been often noted: “There is no accounting for personal taste.”  It is, alas, what it is.   So, here are a few of my favorite things.  If you click on the link below you can hear the great John Coltrane – whose music Barack, like myself, adores – playing “My Favorite Things” as you view the pictures.


A Black and Tan Fantasy!

The Sound Portrait Maestro Ellington Had in Mind 
Daddy’s Girl

She Will Always Hold Men to High Standards
Ole!  Dancing the Tango with Panache

Doopus Donnie Dimwit can’t Groove Like This!
Smooching With his Boo

I Only Have Eyes For You

A Sunday Kinda Love

The Kind that Lasts Past Saturday Night
You Can Always Tell the Good Guys

Cause They Love to Play with Babies*****
******And Pets

They Are Embraced By the Righteous

Paying Homage to John Lewis: An An Elder on Whose Shoulders he Stands
And Chill With Holy Men

The Pope’s Pronouncements are Revered as Dogma by Millions
Good Guys See People as Just People

A Real Man of Faith: All Are Equal in the Eyes of God
Good Guys are Always Trying to Improve….

The Man in the Mirror….

And Maintain their Cool
Even If They Are the most Powerful Man in the World!

Pete Souza Saw it All

Bearing witness With His Cameras

His Poignant Images A Benefaction to Our Posterity


Hail To The Juggler!

Posted in Barack Wins the Nobel Prize, Cultural Matters, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2009 by playthell

 The Prez Displays The Prize
 Barack Obama Accepts the Nobel Prize

Dispite Fidel Castro’s contention that President Obama’s acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize was “cynical,” as I listened to the President’s  Nobel Lecture on war, peace and the power of diplomacy the eloquence and intelligence of his speech, under girded by high moral purpose and profound humility, justified my faith in his leadership and confirmed my belief that he is the right man to lead the world at this critical juncture in history.

Given the multiple crisis’s presently confronting humanity – the destruction of the environment, incessent wars, famine, world wide economic collaspe, terrorism and the every present danger of nuclear catastrophe – the most powerful nation in the world demands a President who can balance concerns about several complex issues at the same time.  And I have never seen a more impressive exhibition of this balancing act that the President’s Nobel Lecture.  It was like watching a philosophical juggler who juggled ideas from philosophy, history, politics, literature and religion as if they were bowling pins.

Since the full breath and depth of the speech is beyond the scope of this commentary, I shall confine my comments to the raison d’etre of the occasion: war and peace.  The central problem confronting the American President in Norway – where he was greeted by protestors bearing signs calling attention to what they believed was the Nobel Committee’s hypocrisy in awarding the peace prize to a Commander-In-Chief who had just ordered thirty thousand troops to invade a foreign country – was to explain this paradox to a skeptical world.

Just as he had done when the race issue surfaced during the election and threatened to sidetrack his campaign, Barack Obama confronted the issue head on.  This required him to argue in defense of the doctrine of “Just War;” in spite of the inherent risks of such an argument on this occasion.  And he pulled it off in grand style.

The logic and moral core of the President’s argument was that while he loved peace as much as any one in that august gathering, as the leader of a great nation he was forced to recognize that there is real “evil in the world” and these forces cannot be deterred from their nefarious aims by moral preachment. And he dramatically illustrated this point by reminding his audience that even Dr. Martin Luther King – the American pacifist apostle of peace whom they had also honored – could not have deterred Hitler’s armies with non-violent demonstrations.

This simple assertion brought the audience face to face with an inconvenient truth: pacifism as a national policy in the face of armed enemies’ intent on conquest, slavery and genocide is a collective suicide pact!  Hence, a nation can justify war to preserve their freedom and security against an evil enemy, or to intervene in the affairs of another nation in order to halt genocide! The use of violence in these instances, he convincingly argued, is essential to creating the preconditions for a lasting peace.

It was a bold and persuasive speech.  But it is not a speech just anyone could have made in this environment.   It worked because President Obama is the most gifted orator in the political arena, which makes his arguments compelling even where a less talented advocate would be summarily dismissed as a charlatan.  Yet the plain truth of his philosophical polemic is all too obvious; that’s why I wrote a commentary in defense of the NATO air assaults on Yugoslavia when the Serbs were committing genocide in Kosovo.  Titled “Bombs Away!” it raised the ire of many of my colleagues, but I remain convinced that I was right.  Just as I continue to believe that President Clinton should have intervened in Rwanda!

Although I am equally convinced that the President is making a grievous error in escalating the war in Afghanistan – a move that may well prove to be as much a march of folly as Bush’s decision to invade Iraq – I agree with the fundamental themes of his argument on this occasion.  As the bible teaches: There is a time for peace and a time for war,” each thing in its season.

Alas, it is the nature of the human condition; the inevitable consequence of the imperfection of man.  Barack Obama did not make the world as it is, but I am convinced that he is trying to make it better.  And so, evidently, does the Nobel committee.  Hence I stood and applauded along with the guest in Oslo and around the world at the conclusion Barack’s magnificent oration.  It not only lived up to the occasion, but I am convinced that it will take its place among the great Nobel Prize Lectures, rivaling even those given by the Nobel Laureates for Literature.

President Obama and Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel


Two Nobel Laureates Reflecting On The Evils Of The World 


African-Americans Represent!


Two Harvard Men Commiserate 

President Obama With Harvard Neuro-Biologist S. Allen Counter


Proud Rich Afro- Americans Who Travelled To Oslo to Bear Witness

Actors Will & Jada Smith Hanging With Dr. Counter 


Dr. Counter and Wycliff Jean 



Soul In Scandanavia


Distinguished Harvard  Administrator David L. Evans


 Semper Fidelis!



 Double Click on Link to see Nobel speech

Playthell Benjamin

Harlem New york

December 10, 2009