Decades before Barack Obama became president, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. predicted that one day the United States would see an African-American in the White House. In a rare clip pulled from the WSB-TV archives, King talked to reporters about the power of the black vote and said that an African-American president could be elected in the "not-too-distant future."
King famously fought for African-Americans' right to vote, which were formally protected by the Voting Rights Act in 1965. In the clip of a press conference on April 25, 1967 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, King talked to reporters about the 1968 presidential race. Some newspapers and activists had advocated for King to run for president, which, earlier in the clip, he announced he would not do.
In later remarks, King insists that he believes African-Americans are capable of leading the country:
I do not want to give the impression that I feel that a Negro is not capable of being president. There are many Negroes who were capable this day and yesterday and day before yesterday and many days in the past. But because of prejudices and narrow-mindedness, Negroes have been held out of the political arena and certainly held out of the presidency. But I do think that the day will come in the not-too-distant future when the Negro vote itself will be powerful enough to be a coalition with liberals and the white community and thereby elect a Negro president of the United States.
King was assassinated a year later on April 4, 1968. It would be four decades after his death until the country elected its first African-American president.