Fact Check

Did Barack Obama Meet with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.?

A photograph showing an adult Barack Obama with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. is chronologically impossible.

Published March 7, 2017

A photograph shows Barack Obama sitting with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.

A photograph purportedly showing President Obama sitting with two icons of the 1950-60s era, activists Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, has been circulating online for several years:

Of course, anyone with a basic grasp of American history would not for a moment think that this image could be anything other than an idealized product of someone's imagination, because it is chronologically impossible for an adult Barack Obama to have met or posed with these two men, who both died when he was a mere child.

Barack Obama was born on 4 August 1961, but Malcolm X was assassinated on 21 February 1965 (when Obama was but three years old) and Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on 4 April 1968 (when Obama was only six years old)

Nonetheless, for completeness' sake, we tracked down the source photographs used to create this composite image.

Photojournalist Marison S. Trikosko took the photograph of Malcolm X, which was first published on 26 March 1964:

Yoichi Okamoto, the first official U.S. presidential photographer, snapped the photograph of King on 18 March 1964. The original shows the civil rights leader with President Lyndon Johnson in the Cabinet Room of the White House:

Photographer James Ball captured the image of Barack Obama on the campaign trail in January 2008. Ball captioned the picture as follows:

The senator was clearly sleep-deprived today, but still in good spirits. I saw him lean on his hands and slouch forward a little more than usual.

The campaign trail is a hard life.


Cherlise, Renata.   "Remembering Dr. King's impact on Chicago on the anniversary of His Assassination."     Chicago Reader.   4 April 2016.

Worland, Justin.   "On 50th Anniversary of Assassination, Malcolm X's Legacy Continues to Evolve."     Time.   20 February 2015.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.