Meet Your Cousin, the First Lady: A Family Story, Long Hidden

Redacted from article By RACHEL L. SWARNS

The New York Times Online, June 17, 2012

Meet Your Cousin, the First Lady: A Family Story, Long Hidden

(How convenient and coincidental to the Obama presidential Campaign!)

(Now maybe some of this intense digging for “long hidden” history by the New York Times, can dig up some more pertinent but “short hidden” history, somehow misplaced or lost by several educational and government institutions. This would be the history of Barack and Michele’s scholastic records, their employment records, their involvement with affirmative action and their original sources of financing, their previous associations alien to the best interests of the US. In fact, the Obama’s racial origins have never been the point in question or controversy or of genuine political interest.) jsk

REX, Ga. — Joan Tribble held tightly to her cane as she ventured into the overgrown cemetery where her people were buried. There lay the pioneers who once populated north Georgia’s rugged frontier, where striving white men planted corn and cotton, fought for the Confederacy and owned slaves.

Sherry George, a member of the Shields family, has struggled with the discovery that Michelle Obama is a descendant of a slave owned by the Shields. The settlers interred here were mostly forgotten over the decades, their progeny scattered across the South and embracing unassuming lives. But one line of her family took another path, heading north on a tumultuous, winding journey that ultimately led to the White House.

The white men and women buried here are the forebears of Mrs. Tribble, a retired bookkeeper who delights in her two grandchildren and her Sunday church mornings. They are also ancestors of Michelle Obama, the first lady.
The discovery of this “unexpected” family tie between the nation’s most prominent black woman and a white, silver-haired grandmother from the Atlanta suburbs underscores the entangled histories and racial intermingling that continue to bind countless American families more than 140 years after the Civil War.

The link was established through more than two years of research into Mrs. Obama’s roots, which included DNA tests of white and black relatives. Like many African-Americans, Mrs. Obama was aware that she had white ancestry, but knew little more.

Now, for the first time, the white forebears who have remained hidden in the first lady’s family tree can be identified. And her blood ties are not only to the dead. She has an entire constellation of white distant cousins who live in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Texas and beyond, who in turn are only now learning of their kinship to her.

Some of Mrs. Tribble’s relatives have declined to discuss the matter beyond the closed doors of their homes, fearful that they might be vilified as racists or forced to publicly atone for their forebears.

The original article is adapted from “American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama” by Rachel L. Swarns, to be published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers



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