the first lady’s mix

New York Times

In First Lady’s Roots, a Complex Path From Slavery

Fraser Robinson III and his wife, Marian, with their children, Craig and Michelle, now the first lady.

By RACHEL L. SWARNS and JODI KANTOR Published: October 7, 2009

WASHINGTON — In 1850, the elderly master of a South Carolinaestate took pen in hand and painstakingly divided up his possessions. Among the spinning wheels, scythes, tablecloths and cattle that he bequeathed to his far-flung heirs was a 6-year-old slave girl valued soon afterward at $475.

In his will, she is described simply as the “negro girl Melvinia.” After his death, she was torn away from the people and places she knew and shipped to Georgia. While she was still a teenager, a white man would father her first-born son under circumstances lost in the passage of time.

In the annals of American slavery, this painful story would be utterly unremarkable, save for one reason: This union, consummated some two years before the Civil War, represents the origins of a family line that would extend from rural Georgia, to Birmingham, Ala., to Chicago and, finally, to the White House.

Melvinia Shields, the enslaved and illiterate young girl, and the unknown white man who impregnated her are the great-great-great-grandparents of Michelle Obama, the first lady.

Viewed by many as a powerful symbol of black advancement, Mrs. Obama grew up with only a vague sense of her ancestry, aides and relatives said. During the presidential campaign, the family learned about one paternal great-great-grandfather, a former slave from South Carolina, but the rest of Mrs. Obama’s roots were a mystery.

Now the more complete map of Mrs. Obama’s ancestors — including the slave mother, white father and their biracial son, Dolphus T. Shields — for the first time fully connects the first African-American first lady to the history of slavery, tracing their five-generation journey from bondage to a front-row seat to the presidency.

The findings — uncovered by Megan Smolenyak, a genealogist, and The New York Times — substantiate what Mrs. Obama has called longstanding family rumors about a white forebear.

While President Obama’s biracial background has drawn considerable attention, his wife’s pedigree, which includes American Indian strands, highlights the complicated history of racial intermingling, sometimes born of violence or coercion, that lingers in the bloodlines of many African-Americans. Mrs. Obama and her family declined to comment for this article, aides said, in part because of the personal nature of the subject.

first lady love

I didn’t think it was possible for my Michelle Obama love to increase.  I was wrong.  I know it’s silly, because it is a known fact, but the fact that she said “biracial” made me really happy.  I love the the sentiment of the whole speech….

if you are going to doubt something doubt limits

First Lady Michelle Obama told Washington Math Science Technical (WMST) High School’s graduating class that they are “more than ready” for the challenges ahead and to ignore “the doubters.”

…Mrs. Obama spoke about her own upbringing and her struggle to get to – and then through – the Ivy League amidst “voices of people sowing doubts in my head.”   She said that although she was always confident, “there was a part of me that started to believe the doubters.”

…Mrs. Obama talked about other figures who have overcome hardship, including her own husband.  “This biracial kid with a funny name from hawaii, of all places,” she laughed, “who was taught that anything is possible.”

http://www.newsday.com/features/booksmags/ny-bkend0712810377jun01,0,2983687.story

michelle-obama