These are dark days, friends. It's hard to come to terms with the reality that America's first African-American president is about to hand over the keys of the White House to a race-baiting demagogue who's been endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. But we still have a few weeks left to salute Barack Obama as our commander in chief — and that's exactly what BET did with its Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration. The musical event, which took place in Washington, D.C., aired on BET o Nov. 15, and featured a veritable who's-who of artists, performers, and musicians paying tribute to America's classiest First Family.
Massive names in music and entertainment packed the star-studded event, including Janelle Monae, Common, Usher, Samuel L. Jackson, The Roots, Regina Hall, Terrence J., De La Soul, Regina Hall, Jill Scott, and, most relevant for our purposes, Leslie Odom Jr., one of the breakout stars of the original cast of the smash hit Broadway musical Hamilton.
Wearing a glistening silver suit, Odom thanked the president and first lady for their support of the entire Broadway community, but especially the cast of Hamilton. He speculated that Obama's legacy will warrant its own musical in the next 100 years, and offered an early preview of what that tribute might sound like. Odom admitted that the lyrics might need polishing, but anything that makes the president's head bop like this can't be all bad.
After rapping a few bars, Odom adopted a more serious, sincere tone. He noted that the hallmark of Obama's presidency has been his unyielding grace, and offered a tribute to that presidential poise with a haunting rendition of "Forever Young."
Seriously, folks. Grab the tissues, because this show of respect, admiration, and decency may be something we don't see in the White House for a long time to come. If nothing else, it feels important to remember, amid our very real panic and anxiety over the incoming administration, that for eight years, we were led by a thoughtful, compassionate man of character, whose administration fought to make America a kinder, more tolerant, "more perfect union." And for what it's worth, I have a sneaking feeling our favorite First Family isn't done influencing the national conversation about race, justice, equality, and our clearly broken electoral system.