Michelle Obama's roots traced to 6-year-old slave on South Carolina plantation
The child, described in the will of David Patterson simply as “the negro girl Melvinia”, was uprooted from her plantation home in South Carolina and shipped to the US state of Georgia in 1852.
There, while still a teenager, she gave birth to the son of a white man – a union of dubious status that would have been looked down upon at the time but one which produced the First Lady’s maternal great-great-grandfather.
The wife of President Barack Obama grew up with only a vague awareness of her ancestry, but a paternal great-great-grandfather, Jim Robinson, who was also a slave, was identified during the presidential election campaign.
The five-generation journey from a plantation to the White House, unveiled on Wednesday by Megan Smolenyak, a genealogist working with The New York Times, for the first time draws a direct line on the First Lady’s family tree to America’s history of slavery.
The First Lady is hailed by many as a symbol of the advancement of black Americans, and Mrs Obama’s genealogy is far more relevant to most African-Americans than that of her husband, the son of a white American mother and a black father from Kenya.
comments powered by Disqus
- Hull of Confederate Submarine H.L. Hunley Found 150 Years Later
- U.S. Textbook Skews History, Prime Minister of Japan Says
- Recalling a Film From the Liberation of the Camps
- Skull Fossil Offers New Clues on Human Journey From Africa
- Are crude conspiracies right? Research shows nations really do go to war over oil
- Ronald Suny says historians have shied away from exploring the roots of the Armenian genocide for fear of taking attention away from the victims
- Columbia University professors Eric Foner, Alan Brinkley, and Alice Kessler-Harris to retire
- A powerhouse appropriations subcommittee is now headed by a historian: Republican Rep. Tom Cole (OK)
- Slavic scholars divided over a scholarship sponsored (and withdrawn) by Stephen F. Cohen
- Claire Strom to Step Down as Editor of Agricultural History