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The 1980s had its share of Black stars — like Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby and Oprah Winfrey —who transcended racial barriers to become mainstream American fixtures. But perhaps the greatest “crossover” figure of the late 20th Century was Michael Jordan, the basketball player of almost supernatural ability, who ascended to the level of true all-American hero and regularly appeared in Gallup’s annual “Most Admired” polls. As such, Michael Jordan set a real cultural precedent for Barack Obama, who amassed a similar mainstream following that eventually propelled him to the presidency of the United States.

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