The Obamas Watch ‘A Raisin In The Sun’


Michael Schulman: Watching The Obamas Watch “A Raisin In The Sun”

On Thursday, the cast of the Broadway revival of “A Raisin in the Sun” was told that a “high-level official” would be coming to the show the next night. Who could it be? Kathleen Sebelius had just resigned—maybe she had more time for theatregoing? Word got out on Friday afternoon: the Obamas were coming to Broadway. By seven o’clock that night, Forty-Seventh Street had been partitioned off, and the Barrymore Theatre was swarming with security guys—not an unwelcome sight, after the Times reported that Broadway has had a tough time attracting men. This was not Obama’s first act of Presidential playgoing. In 2009, he and Michelle went on a date night to August Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” and the First Lady has brought her daughters to “Memphis” and “The Addams Family.” “A Raisin in the Sun” was more than a safe choice: it was an undeniably poignant one. It premièred in 1959, and made Lorraine Hansberry the first African-American woman to have a play produced on Broadway. The story follows a black family in Chicago preparing to move into a big, fancy house, despite resistance from their conservative white neighbors. (Sound familiar?) And its themes are as lofty and as loaded as Obama’s: upward mobility, the pain of progress, and, as Sarah Palin might put it (though Hansberry certainly did not), “that hopey, changey stuff.”


The lights went down, and the door to the street swung open. A stream of people, including the President, the First Lady (in black), and Valerie Jarrett, snaked through to the back of the house and then down the aisle. Ignoring the announcer’s pleas, the audience leaped to its feet—this usually happens at the end of the show—and camera flashes twinkled in the darkened theatre. The Obamas shook some hands and took their seats. It’s not often that a single member of the audience commands more attention than the action onstage, and in the initial minutes there was a jittery energy that distracted from the story. Denzel Washington got his usual entrance applause (and a few catcalls from the balcony). If it took a while to buy him as Walter Lee Younger, it wasn’t because Washington is twenty-four years older than his character: Obama’s Obama-ness somehow increased Denzel’s Denzel-ness. At intermission, the Obamas went backstage to meet the cast, as patrons flooded the bar.


Act Two was sprinkled with unspoken moments of meta-theatre. When Walter asks his son, Travis, what he wants to be when he grows up, the boy says, “Bus driver.” His father urges him to dream bigger, and the words “President of the United States” seemed to waft in the air momentarily. In the end, the Youngers take the house, defying the enmity of the “welcoming committee.” They are the change they’ve been waiting for. At the curtain call, the Obamas joined the audience in a standing ovation, and Denzel Washington tipped his fedora to the President, flashing his matinee-idol grin. Scott Rudin, the powerhouse producer, said, “I pretty much cried the whole time.” Bryce Clyde Jenkins, the thirteen-year-old who plays Travis Younger, was still beaming. “I was in school at 11:08 when my teacher, Miss Bernadette, pulled it up on the computer that the First Lady and the President were coming to the performance tonight,” he said. “I kind of jumped for joy inside myself.” Did he find it hard to concentrate onstage? “No,” Jenkins said. “We have a responsibility to the people who are in the show and the Obamas to put on a good show and treat them like they’re our last audience.”

More here



139 Responses to “The Obamas Watch ‘A Raisin In The Sun’”

  1. 9 Jewelz
    April 13, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    I would love to go see Raisin In The Sun on Broadway.

  2. April 13, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    heh heh heh…..wasn’t even trying. 😎

  3. 12 vcprezofan2
    April 13, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Young People re immigration

  4. April 13, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Thanks a gazilllllllllion Nerdy!

    • 14 Nerdy Wonka
      April 13, 2014 at 6:06 pm

      Anytime, Chiparooo!!!!!

      • April 13, 2014 at 6:09 pm

        Thank you Mrs Ba 🙂

        • 16 Nerdy Wonka
          April 13, 2014 at 6:16 pm

          Wooot! Wooot! Thank you, Demba Ba! Now, if Chelsea could knock everyone out of the way and win the title, it would be perfect. Skies blue, birds singing, Republicans and Democrats working in harmony.

          You can do it, Chelsea!

          • April 13, 2014 at 6:21 pm

            And the completely weird, freaky, wacky, spooky, creepy thing is Nerdy ….. I’m on your side.

            This is kinda like being in a hot air balloon and being told I have to throw either (a) my cheesy puffs, (b) Wayne Rooney or (c) my cozy slippers overboard. Only the opposite.

            I would love to throw Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea overboard. But if I can only keep one, then, grrrrr: Chelsea.

            God, that hurt.

  5. 25 Jewelz
    April 13, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Bubba Watson is on his way to winning his second Masters golf tournament.

  6. April 13, 2014 at 6:22 pm

  7. 27 dotster3
    April 13, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    Lots of evidence of severely disturbed people in need of help in the news today. 7 dead newborns found at the former home of a Utah woman, 6 found in cardboard boxes stacked in garage, charged with 6 murder charges, not sure of why the discrepancy. Thought to have given birth to all 7 in recent years and then murdered them, not sure why not investigated earlier. Unbelievable.

    • 28 jacquelineoboomer
      April 13, 2014 at 6:33 pm

      Good Lord. That and the elderly man who targeted and killed Jewish people in Kansas. What a world.

    • 29 donna dem 4 obama
      April 13, 2014 at 6:40 pm

      Oh my!!! This is horrible 😦

    • 30 99ts
      April 13, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      She needed some help that never came – and presumably never received any sensible sex education – this is beyond sad – and the husband knew nothing about it? He also probably needs a reality check – but he will no doubt wonder off to procreate again without ever asking why there are no babies.

    • 31 jackiegrumbacher
      April 13, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      Good grief what a mad woman!

  8. 32 jacquelineoboomer
    April 13, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Love this post, NW! Thanks so much. (Late to the party, and catchin’ up!)

  9. April 13, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    “A smirking gunman who reportedly shouted Nazi slogans opened fire at a Jewish community center and an old-age home in a suburb of Kansas City, killing three people.

    The gunman, said to be an older man, singled out Jewish victims for death, Rabbi Herbert Mandl, a chaplain with the Overland Park Police Department, told CNN.


    The gunman, described as a bearded white man in his 70s who is not from Kansas, was armed with a shotgun, a handgun and an assault weapon. Police are still investigating which weapons he used in the attacks.”

    Read more: http://forward.com/articles/196506/nazi-gunman-singled-out-jews-for-death-in-suburban/#ixzz2yoCB6plO

    • 35 MightyPamela
      April 13, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      UhOh. My dear cousin is in Overland Park. I’ll check on him. He’s not Jewish. Freaking guns. Why can’t we just be rid of them?

  10. 36 donna dem 4 obama
    April 13, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this NW. I had a big ole smile on my face through the entire article. They can say what they want but folks love our President and First Lady.

  11. April 13, 2014 at 6:43 pm

  12. 39 vcprezofan2
    April 13, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    • 40 Nerdy Wonka
      April 13, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      Tony Abbott is some special kind of douchebag.

      How does he think it’s okay to remove laws that protect people from being treated horribly based on race?

      Just goes to show, horrible politicians are a dime a dozen all over the world.

      • 41 vcprezofan2
        April 13, 2014 at 7:20 pm

        What I liked was the resounding response from those polled – nothing ambiguous about that ‘leave the law alone’ response!

      • 42 99ts
        April 13, 2014 at 9:05 pm

        Australia has an extremely racist history (since 1788 when England used it as a dumping ground to solve the problem of overcrowded prisons) – the way Abbott is treating those escaping from the war zones of the world & seeking asylum shows for some people, little has changed.

        As in the US, the middle class is suffering & instead of putting the blame where it is due, like in the US, those at the lower levels are being asked to pay for the life style of the rich and famous. Yet Abbot’s party easily won the last election – and it cannot be blamed on GOTV – everyone votes.

        And don’t just blame Abbott – rather like GWB he is not over-endowed with brain matter – he has the Cheney & Co working for him – the treasurer wants to raise the retirement age to 70, reduce pensions and support programs and charge people for their “free” healthcare (which is really only free for those at the lower income levels). Thing is those poor people go to the doctor too often – because it is free!

        The person who wants to change the discrimination act is the Attorney General – who would have guessed – a white lawman who thinks there is no discrimination. I think the have been studying up on what is happening in the US red states. There is also talk of demanding photo id to vote – only way they can suppress the vote as voting is compulsory.

        “Attorney-General George Brandis released the proposed changes a day after he told Parliament last month that people “do have a right to be bigots”.

        Thanks for a great day of posts NW – but please don’t get me started on the current Australian Government – and just to note – my state government (who also got a massive majority) is worse.

  13. 44 hopefruit2
    April 13, 2014 at 6:49 pm

  14. 46 vcprezofan2
    April 13, 2014 at 6:57 pm
  15. April 13, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Translation per Google Translate:

    “Ukrainian authorities neutralize those caught outside the territory of Ukraine for the destabilization of the situation and strengthening of civil strife in eastern Ukraine . This in an interview Hromadske. Tv on the results of Sunday’s meeting of the National Security and Defense said the NSDC Secretary Andrew Paruby .

    According to him, the actions of Ukrainian special services have detained officers of Federal Security Service and the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces .

    Paruby refused to give further details of the antiterrorist operation , according to a decision of the NSDC happening in Eastern Ukraine .”

    • April 13, 2014 at 7:11 pm

      • April 13, 2014 at 7:35 pm

        Our State Department ain’t playing …

        1. Russia Claims: Russian agents are not active in Ukraine.

        Fact: The Ukrainian Government has arrested more than a dozen suspected Russian intelligence agents in recent weeks, many of whom were armed at the time of arrest. In the first week of April 2014, the Government of Ukraine had information that Russian GRU officers were providing individuals in Kharkiv and Donetsk with advice and instructions on conducting protests, capturing and holding government buildings, seizing weapons from the government buildings’ armories, and redeploying for other violent actions. On April 12, armed pro-Russian militants seized government buildings in a coordinated and professional operation conducted in six cities in eastern Ukraine. Many were outfitted in bullet-proof vests, camouflage uniforms with insignia removed, and carrying Russian-designed weapons like AK-74s and Dragunovs. These armed units, some wearing black and orange St. George’s ribbons associated with Russian Victory Day celebrations, raised Russian and separatist flags over seized buildings and have called for referendums on secession and union with Russia. These operations are strikingly similar to those used against Ukrainian facilities during Russia’s illegal military intervention in Crimea in late February and its subsequent occupation.

        2. Russia Claims: Pro-Russia demonstrations are comprised exclusively of Ukrainian citizens acting of their own volition, like the Maidan movement in Kyiv.

        Fact: This is not the grassroots Ukrainian civic activism of the EuroMaidan movement, which grew from a handful of student protestors to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians from all parts of the country and all walks of life. Russian internet sites openly are recruiting volunteers to travel from Russia to Ukraine and incite violence. There is evidence that many of these so-called “protesters” are paid for their participation in the violence and unrest. It is clear that these incidents are not spontaneous events, but rather part of a well-orchestrated Russian campaign of incitement, separatism, and sabotage of the Ukrainian state. Ukrainian authorities continue to arrest highly trained and well-equipped Russian provocateurs operating across the region.

        3. Russia Claims: Separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine enjoy broad popular support.

        Fact: The recent demonstrations in eastern Ukraine are not organic and lack wide support in the region. A large majority of Donetsk residents (65.7 percent) want to live in a united Ukraine and reject unification with Russia, according to public opinion polls conducted at the end of March by the Donetsk-based Institute of Social Research and Policy Analysis. Pro-Russian demonstrations in eastern Ukraine have been modest in size, especially compared with Maidan protests in these same cities in December, and they have gotten smaller as time has progressed.

        More at the link in the tweet.

      • 53 jackiegrumbacher
        April 13, 2014 at 9:43 pm

        This is a very intriguing statement, Bob. I wonder what this detention of officers means for the buildings the Russians have captured. Hard to understand what’s really happening.

  16. April 13, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Dear Peoples, I don’t comment much, since mostly I am learning from all of you.
    But I have to say, periodically, that you make the world for me, this location makes
    it possible for me to stay present in the news of the world. Thank you thank you.
    I consider it a miraculous offspring of our fabulous President . . . . let me say his
    name right here: Barack Obama. xoxoxox

  17. 64 africa
    April 13, 2014 at 7:20 pm

  18. 66 africa
    April 13, 2014 at 7:22 pm

  19. 68 donna dem 4 obama
    April 13, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    • 69 Nena20409
      April 13, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      ABC hired Bill Kristol and now they have Anna Navar, the Cuban American Layer, they have had Greta Van S on many times and now Laura Ingrahm? Hmm? They keep enriching the same people. Apparently, no other folks are available? Seriously? Is there any wonder why the political discourse is so dysfunctional?

      I say, garbage in and garbage out.

  20. 72 hopefruit2
    April 13, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    PBO now on CBS talking about his visit with Pope Francis. (60 Mins)

  21. 73 hopefruit2
    April 13, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    CBS used PBO to bait viewers – PBO was featured for only 3-4 minutes, but they tweet as though the entire show or segment was going to be about PBO & Pope Francis…

    • 74 vcprezofan2
      April 13, 2014 at 8:29 pm

      Hopef, that seems to be their default approach lately. Remember the last time they used the Obamas as bait for that Walters’ interview? I was absolutely FURIOUS! Once bitten, twice shy. 60minutes has messed up their copy book too many times now, IMO.

      • 75 hopefruit2
        April 13, 2014 at 8:36 pm

        Yes, I remember the ABC/Walter’s baiting of viewers who were furious about the deception.

        • 76 vcprezofan2
          April 13, 2014 at 8:40 pm

          Even the much vaunted 60mins has to USE the Obama name to get eyes! That should tell them something. Of course, sooner or later that ploy will fail them as their remaining viewers wake up.

  22. April 13, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Hey all, staying low today. Lots of commitments to meet; went to a baby shower and now heading to my mom’s for my nephew’s 3rd birthday. But I had to share this tweet. Vlad may be in more trouble than he bargained for.

  23. April 13, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Evidently, it’s not going to be a ‘secret meeting’ ….

  24. April 13, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Ambassador Power is on now …

  25. April 13, 2014 at 8:30 pm

  26. 92 criquet
    April 13, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Hoping to make everyone smile even in these difficult times!

  27. April 13, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    • 95 jacquelineoboomer
      April 13, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      Love her. Great way to start the speech, for sure.

    • 96 jackiegrumbacher
      April 13, 2014 at 10:07 pm

      Samantha Power is the best US Ambassador to the UN ever. She is tough, fearless, brilliant and compassionate–just like the President she serves.

  28. 97 vcprezofan2
    April 13, 2014 at 8:35 pm

  29. April 13, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    • April 13, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      “Ukrainian officials say that Russia coordinated the takeovers of several Donetsk Oblast government buildings seized over the weaken by heavily armed and masked men in military uniforms.

      “We have all concrete proof of Russia’s secret agency involvement in the separatist insurgency and takeovers of government buildings in eastern Ukraine. The evidence and witness testimonies will be presented to the international community on April 17 in Geneva,” Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on April 13.

      Former Vladimir Putin’s adviser Andrei Illarionov, expressed a similar conviction to Ukraine’s Gordon.ua news website.

      “I have to stress, this is an intervention, an insurgency of Russian special forces, not a separatist riot on the territory of Ukraine. If the problem is not solved within three days, the territories of Ukraine will be lost,” said Illarionov.”

      Link to full article in the tweet, above.

    • 100 jacquelineoboomer
      April 13, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      I think akin to our “Don’t mess with Texas,” Russia should take heed, “Don’t mess with Ukraine.”

  30. April 13, 2014 at 8:47 pm

  31. April 13, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    just finished watching the Sidney Poitier movie version of Raisin in the Sun on Centric.

    now, they’re playing the most recent one with Puffy.

    the play really is timeless.

  32. April 13, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    all these names…Liberal….Democrat…Progressive….the only title that I want is Obamabot…a proud member of the ObamaCoalition!…wooooooooot

  33. 109 hopefruit2
    April 13, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    It wasn’t just the GOP spreading this lie.

  34. 110 hopefruit2
    April 13, 2014 at 9:16 pm

      • 112 vcprezofan2
        April 13, 2014 at 9:38 pm

        And though he sounded quite coherent to me, between his shout-out and his trial I won’t be surprised to hear that he has ‘mental issues’.

        • 113 hopefruit2
          April 13, 2014 at 9:42 pm

          Yup, I’ve diagnosed his “mental issue” as pure unadulterated HATE. He was a former leader of the North Carolina Ku Klux Klan (Carolina Knights KKK).

        • April 13, 2014 at 9:43 pm

          Ha, of course VC, he’s not ‘non-white’ or Muslim, so it can’t be that he’s just a hate-filled pile of trash.

      • 115 dotster3
        April 13, 2014 at 9:46 pm

        And if he is some extreme anti-Semite, as it appears, and was on a mission to kill Jewish people, he wrongly assumed that all in the vicinity of the Jewish center were Jewish. Two of those he shot and killed were a grandfather and grandson who belong to the Methodist Church. There were all kinds of community type activities there today—–dozens of teens from all over the area were there for a singing contest, a play practice for “To Kill a Mockingbird”, and there was a meeting there for kids with autism and their parents.
        And I caught an interesting question by one of the reporters at the press conf.——–if there was possibly a connection between this deranged creep and whomever has been shooting at cars on the expressways there recently. Police chief said it was too early to say, but he didn’t say no. It has horrified the community, someone shooting at cars in broad daylight as people are commuting to work. The same thing was happening a few years ago in northwest Indiana, and my youngest daughter had a back window of her car shot out as she was driving back to her home in Indy after visiting us in the Chgo area—on a Sunday afternoon. I don’t know if they ever found who was responsible. But she was one of many who were struck. Crazy people with guns.

        • 116 hopefruit2
          April 13, 2014 at 9:52 pm

          Here’s a bit of his ugly, antisemitic, hate-filled history – and it is ugly. Be warned….
          Missouri State U must be reeling with guilt right now..


          • April 13, 2014 at 9:56 pm

            Love this line, Hopefruit:

            “To prevent anti-racists from trying to disrupt the seminar, the location, the class, and the date were not disclosed on VNN Forum until after the fact.”

            Like “anti-racists” are evil agitators.

            • 118 hopefruit2
              April 13, 2014 at 10:01 pm

              Chips I just have to shake my head in disgust. Every life-long bigot has had a string of enablers – many of whom will swear up and down that they are not racist or bigoted in anyway shape or form. Let that be a lesson to certain folks in the media who give haters a platform to spew, and then further reinforce their bullshit by blaming the victims and or anyone but the bigots.

          • 119 dotster3
            April 13, 2014 at 10:16 pm

            Detestable, hate-consumed scum. Wonder if he moved to Mo. from N.C., where he attained his KKK cred, because of the Mo.St. invitation, thinking he had some friendlies there. I am wondering about that invitation—-I know the value in opposing views, but I wonder what worth there is in exposing college kids to that extreme level of demented hate and rage——other than to make them aware that such insane “people” exist. But they can learn about that by reading—- I don’t see giving scum like that any kind of platform, an invitation to appear. At least his hate-filled mission has come to an end, sadly in this horrific way.

            • 120 vcprezofan2
              April 13, 2014 at 10:49 pm

              Dotster, *he’s* alive. Do you really feel his hate-filled mission has come to an end? Even though he’s murdered three innocent people, I’m not so sure it has. I also wouldn’t be surprised to hear that he’s killed others before and gotten away with it.

          • 121 Anna Luc
            April 14, 2014 at 9:07 am

            FYI: This is a right wing site. Perhaps there is another link with the info. Love to everyone. I check in every day even though I’ve not been commenting. Thank you all for this site; it keeps me sane while I am working with the worst. managers. evah!

            • 122 hopefruit2
              April 14, 2014 at 6:48 pm

              Thanks Anna for the heads up about the site. But the info about the guy’s ugly history is what I wanted to highlight. I’m not in anyway endorsing that site! 🙂

        • 123 MightyPamela
          April 13, 2014 at 10:30 pm

          See my note in the next thread: this is my cousins’ church. They are all very shaken, as Overland Park is a very nice community.

  35. April 13, 2014 at 9:35 pm

  36. 125 lockewasright
    April 13, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Happiness is a speedy internet connection and a belly full of jambalaya.

  37. April 13, 2014 at 9:41 pm

  38. April 13, 2014 at 9:45 pm


    Anyone who self-describes as a “progressive,” and can look at ANY Democrat and see them as even similar to ANY Republican simply hasn’t been paying attention. And that type of ignorance is undermining the progressive movement.

    The key to building a progressive nation requires electoral success

  39. April 13, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Folks, unless a miracle – truly a MIRACLE – happens in the next few hours, meaning Putin reverses course, Ukraine is going to defend itself. Ambassador Sergeyev was not bluffing.

  40. April 13, 2014 at 9:57 pm


    With Petri out, Grothman will probably have some primary challengers of his own, but if he’s the Republican nominee this year, and the DCCC can recruit a credible Democratic candidate, it could quickly turn into a race worth watching.

  41. 136 hopefruit2
    April 13, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    This woman likely had severe case of undiagnosed/untreated PPD with psychosis…but I have to ask…whoever fathered those babies didn’t have the presence of mind to inquire about the pregnancy and outcomes? Or ask about the babies? WTF?!?!? Or were these cases of rape or some other “situation” that we aren’t privy to?

    • 137 99ts
      April 13, 2014 at 11:24 pm

      I agree hf – as I mentioned above – sadly she will be locked up and those who accuse her will sing their own praises.

  42. April 14, 2014 at 10:47 am

    I am trying my best to get to New York to see this.

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