Barack Obama has spawned many viral videos, but the latest uses some of the oldest footage ever taken of Obama, from when he was just 29 years old.
The year was 1991, and as graduating editor of the Harvard Law Review, Obama recorded a “Black History Minute” for broadcast on TBS. He recounts Charles Hamilton Houston’s work as an NAACP legal director and Howard Law School professor, and while Obama’s face looks almost exactly the same as today, several commentators note that his voice is quite a bit deeper. “Obama’s voice in 1991, far lower-pitched and more measured than what Americans are accustomed to in 2011, is only marginally recognizable,” writes Meg Gasvoda, who first reported that the video surfaced online. At the irreverent site Gawker, Lauri Apple went further, saying Barack’s early baritone was “quite sultry!”
The video was first uploaded to YouTube on Thursday, by Andy Kaczynski, a 21-year-old history major at St. John’s University who has interned for the Republican National Committee. He found the video tucked away in an obscure message board from last year. By Saturday, however, the clip hit a healthy 200,000 views, with links from political sites like Breitbart.tv and FoxNews.com. (By contrast, the last video from the Obama campaign, uploaded on Wednesdsay, has 27,000 views.)
Over the weekend, Kaczynski posted video from Obama’s 2000 primary debate with Representative Bobby Rush, which Kaczynski says is “online for the first time.” He has uploaded videos of several GOP candidates, but lately he he’s been focusing on Obama’s archive. “I realized there seemed to be a lack of Obama videos from 1990–2004,” Kaczunski told The Nation, adding, “I decided to do some research to see what I could find.”
The “Black History Minute” is below, although it still doesn’t top the best old-school Obama video in the archive—his awkward interview touting Dixie Kitchen, a local restaurant, on a lost epsiode of the local show Check, Please! “I have to put in a plug for their peach cobbler,” then–state senator Obama intoned, “which people tend to gobble up pretty good.” Those were the days.