The life of former US President Barack Obama will be detailed in a new HBO documentary titled Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union.
The doco pieces together conversations with colleagues, friends and critics as well as snippets from his own speeches and interviews to chronicle Obama’s personal and professional story, as well as the ongoing issues of inequality in America.
Directed by Emmy winner Peter Kunhardt, the series starts with Obama’s childhood and takes us through his perspective as the son of a white mother from Kansas and an African father, his spiritual formation by a generation of Black leaders, and his hopes for a more inclusive country.
Split into three parts, part one of the series will focus on Obama’s early years, including his upbringing by a single mother, his education, and navigating his biracial identity. It’ll also highlight his community organising work in Black churches in Chicago.
Part two will cover his 2008 presidential run and life on the campaign trail as well as the pressure that was put upon him to define his identity which he saw as a frustrating distraction from issues that were actually important.
And part three will examine Obama’s challenges in the White House, the battle to introduce the Affordable Care Act and the very real (and growing) issues of police brutality, gun control and social injustice.
John Lewis, Obama’s longtime advisor David Axelrod, Rev. Al Sharpton, Cornel West, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Jelani Cobb, David Remnick and Rev. Jeremiah Wright are just some of the people who contribute to the project to provide insight into how hopes that Obama’s presidency would “cure racism” but it actually uncovered just how broken the American system was.
“Racism is a convenient tool, used by those who want power,” says journalist Laura Washington, before we see how the Republican party used racism as a tool to try to undermine Obama’s political goals and achievements.
We also see how the murder of Trayvon Martin — the 17-year-old African American boy who was killed in Florida by George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012 — galvanised both Obama and the country, to address the pervasive issues of systemic racism differently than before.
Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union will premiere in the US on August 3 (the day before Obama’s 60th birthday) on HBO and HBO Max, so stay tuned for how and where we can watch in Australia.