Obama Remains Unbothered as Trump Avoids White House Portrait Ceremony

The standard tradition of a sitting first-term president is to host their predecessor for the unveiling of their White House portrait. As the time would come, Trump sets a refusal to host former U.S. President Barack Obama, yet, likewise, Obama is unbothered by the circumstance.

As a staple of history, this ceremony began with the second president of the United States, John Adams. The service started in the newly built White House with a portrait of the first president of the United States, George Washington.

Typically, the sitting president would pick an artist for the portrait, then in the ceremony, reveal them as a gesture of transition for both presidents.

(Image Courtesy of Baltimore Magazine – Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald)

As tension continues between President Trump and former president Barack Obama, NBC reports that Obama has “no interest” in the ceremony at the current moment. Even in typical partisan tension, presidents commonly proceed with the service, yet both parties want to steer clear of the tradition.

Other presidents that have set a refusal of the given portrait includes Teddy Rosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, both resulting in their pictures being remade. In lack of attendance, former president Jimmy Carter was the last to request the ceremony not to occur.

At the moment, spokespersons for the White House and Obama have declined to comment on NBC. As a marker of history, the question remains of when former president Barack Obama’s portrait will find its place in the White House.

There are only two locations with complete collections of presidential portraits, one at the White House and the other at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

As famously released at the Smithsonian in February 2018, the Obama’s received record numbers with the unveiling of their portraits. A black artist painted both, former president Barack Obama painted by Kehinde Wiley, and former first lady Michelle Obama painted by Amy Sherald.

About Jonique Lyles

Keeping the local community aware and informed, Jonique brings her storytelling skills to the digital media space. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from North Carolina State University and a Master’s Degree in International Affairs with a concentration in Media and Culture from The New School.

View all posts by Jonique Lyles

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