Was Barack Obama a Black Panther?

A 1998 photograph purportedly showing a young Barack Obama as a member of the Black Panther Party is a fake.


A 1998 photograph shows a young Barack Obama as a member of the Black Panther Party.




This image of Barack Obama as a young Black Panther is doctored.

Images altered to suggest President Barack Obama was an active Black Panther aren’t new; a prior version similarly manipulated an existing photograph, which was subsequently circulated via e-mail and web sites prone to spreading misinformation.

Below is the original, unaltered photograph, first published to the web no later than 27 December 2009, showing two individuals in front of various symbols of the New Black Panther Party (a militant group with little to do with the original Black Panthers):

obama BPP

On 23 July 2014, the web site Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children shared the altered image and then deleted it (presumably because someone pointed out the photograph was not an authentic depiction of President Obama), but it remained visible in the above-linked reverse image search result.

The precise source of the unaltered photograph is unclear, as versions of it posted online were invariably found on sites that used it as a general illustration of content relating to Black Panthers rather than discussion of a specific event. A visible date stamp appeared to suggest the original photograph was taken in 1998.

Dear Reader,

Snopes.com has long been engaged in the battle against misinformation, an effort we could not sustain without support from our audience. Producing reliable fact-checking and thorough investigative reporting requires significant resources. We pay writers, editors, web developers, and other staff who work tirelessly to provide you with an invaluable service: evidence-based, contextualized analysis of facts. Help us keep Snopes.com strong. Make a direct contribution today. Learn More.

Donate with PayPal