Historic moment, iconic photo

 

By Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Updated 1922 GMT (0322 HKT) July 28, 2016



 



 

In a symbol of American optimism and activism, President Barack Obama embraces Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention.

Story highlights

  • Ruth Ben-Ghiat: Image of black man and a woman at pinnacle of U.S. politics is historic
  • She says image represents the promise, and conflict, even now, within America

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a professor of history and Italian studies at New York University. Her latest book is "Italian Fascism's Empire Cinema." The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)Over the last 10 days, the Democratic and Republican conventions have inundated us with rivers of words and pictures. Some of the images stand out more than others and have already found an afterlife in GIFs and video clips.

 

Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump entering the stage, silhouetted in fog, a strong or menacing figure, depending on your politics; first lady Michelle Obama, radiant in blue and lit with passion and reason; Sen. Bernie Sanders, noble as he urged his followers to support Hillary Clinton as the Democratic presidential nominee.

Yet one image above all will stand in our memory for years to come: President Barack Obama, the first African-American to hold our nation's highest office, embracing Clinton, the first woman to win a presidential nomination from a major party. They glow with joy and exultation as they face out to the cheering crowds.

Broadway performers sing "What the World Needs Now Is Love" on Wednesday.

Photos: The Democratic National Convention

Broadway performers sing "What the World Needs Now Is Love" on Wednesday.

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Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords waves to the audience before speaking on Wednesday.

Photos: The Democratic National Convention

Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords waves to the audience before speaking on Wednesday.

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People hold up prints that pay respect to those who were killed in the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting of June 2015. Two survivors of the shooting were speaking to the crowd.

Photos: The Democratic National Convention

People hold up prints that pay respect to those who were killed in the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting of June 2015. Two survivors of the shooting were speaking to the crowd.

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A delegate wears stickers in support of Clinton.

Photos: The Democratic National Convention

A delegate wears stickers in support of Clinton.

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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is escorted to the podium by his wife, Landra, on Wednesday.

Photos: The Democratic National Convention

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is escorted to the podium by his wife, Landra, on Wednesday.

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Clinton appears live on a video screen Tuesday night. Just a few hours earlier, she officially became the party's presidential nominee. She is the first woman to lead a major party's presidential ticket. "I can't believe we just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet," she told the crowd.

Photos: The Democratic National Convention

Clinton appears live on a video screen Tuesday night. Just a few hours earlier, she officially became the party's presidential nominee. She is the first woman to lead a major party's presidential ticket. "I can't believe we just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet," she told the crowd.

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Actress Meryl Streep addresses the crowd before Clinton's video message. Streep said Clinton will be the first female President of the United States, "but she won't be the last."

Photos: The Democratic National Convention

Actress Meryl Streep addresses the crowd before Clinton's video message. Streep said Clinton will be the first female President of the United States, "but she won't be the last."

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Former U.S. President Bill Clinton waves to the crowd before giving a speech on Tuesday.

Photos: The Democratic National Convention

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton waves to the crowd before giving a speech on Tuesday.

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The former President told the crowd about how he met his wife for the first time. He also called her "the best damn change-maker I've ever met in my entire life."

Photos: The Democratic National Convention

The former President told the crowd about how he met his wife for the first time. He also called her "the best damn change-maker I've ever met in my entire life."

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Bill Clinton arrives on stage to give his speech. In his speech, he portrayed his wife as a woman who tirelessly ran a family and a career. "She always wants to move the ball forward," he said. "That is just who she is."

Photos: The Democratic National Convention

Bill Clinton arrives on stage to give his speech. In his speech, he portrayed his wife as a woman who tirelessly ran a family and a career. "She always wants to move the ball forward," he said. "That is just who she is."

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Former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright waves to the crowd after speaking on Tuesday.

Photos: The Democratic National Convention

Former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright waves to the crowd after speaking on Tuesday.

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Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean re-enacts his infamous "Dean Scream" during his speech.

Photos: The Democratic National Convention

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean re-enacts his infamous "Dean Scream" during his speech.

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