Guess Who Broke the Color Barrier

Going inito the archives of The New York Times with the phrase “first negro president”, and pushing past “first” for various institutions to the heart of “first” for The United States, I am a bit surprised at how late any reference to the hypothetical comes up.  Maybe I have the parlance wrong — was it “negroe” at some point until they dropped the “e”, was there a negroid in the last part of the nineteenth century? — “First colored president” doesn’t throw me anywhere until 1976 — at the end maybe I ought to just drop the “first” and I’d pull something there?

But here are the names of the first two “First Negro Presidents”, at least as recorded in the anals of the New York Times, the “Paper of Record”.

6-25-1962… Comic Turns Quips Into Tuition … by Paul Gardner

The Gaslight Cafe, a subterranean coffeehouse in Greenwich Village, is featuring a young Negro comic who is working his way through college by hurling verbal spears at the relations between Whites and Negroes.

He is Bill Cosby, a 24 year old physical education major at Temple University, here for the summer to polish his style, collect new material, and save money for the fall Semester. […]

Mr. Cosby may startle them with a bit of unorthodox poetry, such as “Roses are red, violets are blue, grass is green — and dirt is brown.”

Occasionally he may threaten an unsmiling patron with the cryptic order:  “You better laugh.  I’ve got a club that’s the opposite of the Ku Klux Klan.”

In a skit in which he impersonates the first Negro President in the White House, Mr. Cosby says to an imaginary friend, “Yeh, baby, everything’s fine, except a lot of ‘for sale’ signs are going up on this block.”

The article went on to say that Bill Cosby felt he was having trouble finding a distinctive delivery.  Also he may just get tired of show business anyway.

Continuing, in May of 1965 the Irving Wallace book The Man, which “concerned itself with the first Negro President of the U.S.”, topped the best-seller’s list.  This might be a good curiosity seeker’s read at the moment, something along the lines of looking over to youtube to grab ahold of Robert Kennedy on “Voice of America” saying that race relations were moving so fast that the US may find itself with the first Black President… well, eight years ago, but never mind that.

The novel was made into a tv movie, as shown in the 7-9-1971 headline “Jones Plays Black President for TV Film”.  Here we find the Second “first negro president.”  Skip forward in the article to a name:

He is James Earl Jones, who starred in “The Great White Hope” and other films and plays.  He is now making a two-hour movie about the first Negro to become the president.

So, for the record, the First First Black President was Bill Cosby, and the Second First Black President was James Earl Jones.  Barack Obama will just have to be content standing on their shoulders as the First Black President in Actuality.

I doubt that the search for the “first negro vice-president” would gent any sooner, as it is a less scintilizing prospect.  I know that columnists for the New York Times and other elite opinion-meisters speculated on it for the 1972 presidential campaign, dove-tailing with a Nixon dirty trick strategy with CREEP plotting to rouse up the rabble in “those neighborhoods” of the inner-city so they would DEMAND a black vice presidential candidate from the early presumptive Democratic nominee, Edmund Muskie.  A sure defeat for the Democrats would have followed, a landslide defeat and electoral stain that would have taken the Democrats a generation to overcome.


One Response to “Guess Who Broke the Color Barrier”

  1. SME Says:

    I triple dog dare Mr. Cosby to tell that joke at an inauguration party.

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