What does the Obama dance have to do with a 1927 painting?

Great images rewrite history. One of the most powerful and soul-expanding photos captured this week records the visit to the White House of Virginia McLaurin: a 106-year-old Washington, DC resident who confessed in a viral YouTube video that she never dreamed an African-American would one day become president of the United States.

Stills from a video of McLaurin's visit, in which the spry centenarian is seen dancing joyfully and holding hands with Barack Obama and the First Lady, Michelle Obama - the three figures basking in the opulent amber glow of mythic Americana - impressed themselves immediately on the popular imagination. Taken in the president's final year of office and amid the rancour of a bitter campaign to determine his successor, the images serve as a timely reminder of the extraordinary significance of Obama's tenure to a racially riven America, irrespective of one's partisan leanings in this election year.

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