“I am the son of a Black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived the Depression to serve in Patton’s army during World War II, and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas.... And for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on earth is my story even possible.”
- Barack Obama
Barack Obama’s extraordinary life, chronicled in the three-part documentary series Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union, raises many vital issues for discussion and engagement. The episodes cover distinct periods of Obama’s personal and professional life and are situated against the backdrop of the country’s racial history. This guide includes background information, guidance for hosting in-person and virtual events, discussion questions, and tools for audiences to discover and use as they participate in the civic life of their communities. After viewing the film, groups can use the engagement guide to navigate questions of Obama’s identity, race, and leadership through multiple lenses, exploring:
*Obama’s personal journey leading up to his political career.
*The role of race in American politics.
*Obama’s leadership qualities.
*The ways Obama engaged in civic and political life.
*The challenges and opportunities of creating a more perfect union.
*Obama’s evolving legacy.
Six lessons use film clips, interview threads, and primary source documents to navigate questions of Obama’s identity, race, and leadership. Students will practice historical and critical thinking, and consider what work remains to be done for a democracy to aspire to a be a more perfect union. We recommend reviewing the Introduction first as you plan for implementation of the lessons.
39 full-length interviews were completed in the production of Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union and can be watched in the Interview Archive. Writers, historians, critics, and friends share their perspective of the first Black presidency.