Seeking a "teachable moment" in the wake up his controversial comments about the arrest of an African-American professor by a white policeman, President Obama on July 30, 2009 sat down over beers with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Cambridge police sergeant James Crowley. Vice president Joe Biden was also present at the White House gathering, which was held at a white table in the rose garden.
About a week earlier, Mr. Obama was asked during a primetime White House news conference about Gates' arrest. Mr. Obama said the Cambridge police acted "stupidly" for arresting Gates, who is African-American, in his own home. The president spoke about the history of racial discrimination by law enforcement in the U.S.
The president later walked back his comments, but the story of his remarks and the proposed "beer summit" took on a life of its own, receiving overwhelming media coverage. "This is three folks having a drink at the end of the day, and hopefully giving people the opportunity to listen to each other," Mr. Obama told reporters before the beer summit. "And that's really all it is."
For the record, the president drank Bud Light; Biden drank Buckler, a non-alcoholic beer; Gates sipped Sam Adams Light, brewed in his home state of Massachusetts; while Crowley opted for Blue Moon, which he had earlier told the president was among his favorites.