Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 09:02 am
A Family Tree Rooted In American Soil
Michelle Obama Learns About Her Slave Ancestors, Herself and Her Country

By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 2, 2008; Page C01

GEORGETOWN, S.C.

The old plantation where Michelle Obama's great-great-grandfather lived is tucked behind the tire stores and veterinary clinics of U.S. Highway 521. But its history and grounds have been meticulously preserved, down to the dikes that once controlled the flow of water into its expansive rice fields.

Not much is known about Jim Robinson, however, including how or when he came to Friendfield, as the property is still called. But records show he was born around 1850 and lived, at least until the Civil War, as a slave. His family believes that he remained a Friendfield worker all his life and that he was buried at the place, in an unmarked grave.

Until she reconnected with relatives here in January on a campaign trip, Obama did not know much about her ancestry, or even that Friendfield existed. As she was growing up in Chicago, her parents did not talk about the family's history, and the young Michelle Robinson didn't ask many questions.

But if her husband is elected president in November, he will not be the only one in the family making history. While Barack Obama's provenance -- his black Kenyan father, white Kansas-born mother and Hawaiian childhood -- has been celebrated as a uniquely American example of multicultural identity, Michelle Obama's family history -- from slavery to Reconstruction to the Great Migration north -- connects her to the essence of the African American experience.

To Rep. James E. Clyburn (D), whose district includes part of Georgetown County, the possibility that a descendant of slaves could be first lady is just as momentous as the prospect of a black man as president. "I believe she could play as pivotal a role as her husband could, if not more so. It would allow us an opportunity to get beyond some of our preconceived notions, some of our prejudices," he said.


Those who have studied African American history believe Michelle Obama's prominence could help bring to light the complexities of what Southern whites once called the "peculiar institution," now regarded as an indelible stain on the American conscience.

"It's good to be a part of playing out history in this way," Obama said in an interview at the campaign's Chicago headquarters. "It could be anybody. But it's us, it's our family, it's that story, that's going to play a part in telling a bigger story."

It is a process, she continued, of "uncovering the shame, digging out the pride that is part of that story -- so that other folks feel comfortable about embracing the beauty and the tangled nature of the history of this country."

Early this year, before Obama traveled to Georgetown to help her husband in the South Carolina primary, campaign aides began to interview her relatives and scour genealogical records, not sure of what they would discover. Later they enlisted help from historians to produce a detailed Robinson family tree.

Sheryll Cashin, a Georgetown University law professor and author of a book about her own Alabama family, says that for African Americans, there is nothing unique about the Robinson family. "I would venture to say that this is not an extraordinary story," said Cashin, a friend of Obama's. "It's an extraordinary story because it's been unearthed."

The Obama campaign agreed to cooperate for this article, as did Robinson family members who live in Georgetown and had previously declined all interview requests. Many had known parts of their family history but not the full odyssey, including details unearthed by The Washington Post in its own inquiries.

CONTINUED 1 2 3 4 Next > http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/01/AR2008100103169.html?hpid=artslot
 
Woiyo9
 
  -1  
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 09:27 am
Explain why this is relevant to anything.
Miller
 
  -1  
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 09:34 am
@Woiyo9,
...
Quote:
so that other folks feel comfortable about embracing the beauty and the tangled nature of the history of this country."


I didn't know anyone was uncomfortable.
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 09:36 am
@Woiyo9,
It would be a waste of time to try to educate you.

BBB
Miller
 
  -2  
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 09:38 am
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
Why ?
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 11:01 am
@Miller,
It's because it's easy to determine which posters on a2k are non-trainable. "Waste of time" is spot on!
Woiyo9
 
  -1  
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 11:46 am
@cicerone imposter,
Laughing

blueflame1
 
  4  
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 12:17 pm
@Woiyo9,
It's American history. Is American history relevent? Michelle becoming First Lady will be extremely historic.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 12:18 pm
@Woiyo9,
Says nothing - as usual. That's the reason you are un-trainable.
Woiyo9
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 12:37 pm
@blueflame1,
Maybe to some people but some may think that Condi Rice or Gen Powell being Executive Branch positions is more relevant to the historical significance of the so called advancement of "black" America than Michelle Obama possibly becoming First Lady.

Have you attempted to research the roots of those 2 individuals?
Woiyo9
 
  -2  
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 12:37 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Laughing
cicerone imposter
 
  0  
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 12:46 pm
@Woiyo9,
Another "ignore" on my list.
Woiyo9
 
  -2  
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 01:50 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Laughing
0 Replies
 
A Lone Voice
 
  0  
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 11:03 pm
@Woiyo9,
Quote:

Explain why this is relevant to anything.


Why?

Because using the lib/progressive template, if Obama wins the election:

Michelle will be the most qualified person for the US senate from Illinois in 2020. Or is it 2018?

Of course, her time as First Lady will involve far more interesting and important activity than any other prior First Lady (except Hillary, of course) providing Michelle all the experience necessary for a run at the senate. Heck, she’ll have to avoid snipers in some far off land, and keep the bimbos out of the White House. (I take that back, throw a flag, unfair of me; Michelle will not have to be on bimbo patrol, as Obama seems to be an honorable man.)

And later, of course, Michelle will run for president! Isn't it exciting, being part of this! I love the lib/progressive universe!

Of course, not having the husband connection and becoming Gov. of your state the ‘old fashioned’ way (i.e. you are a repub…) simply means you are a worthless human...
parados
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2008 08:32 am
@Woiyo9,
Woiyo9 wrote:

Maybe to some people but some may think that Condi Rice or Gen Powell being Executive Branch positions is more relevant to the historical significance of the so called advancement of "black" America than Michelle Obama possibly becoming First Lady.

Have you attempted to research the roots of those 2 individuals?

How many can you name that held cabinet positions under Washington, Adams, Lincoln, JFK, FDR, Truman?

Now name the wives of each of those Presidents.

History is a funny thing. Yes, anyone can research any arcane fact they want to but cabinet positions are pretty obscure over time compared to wives of Presidents.
Woiyo9
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2008 11:15 am
@parados,
Not very difficult at all.

Here is FDR for example.

http://www.potus.com/fdroosevelt.html

Look...Herbert Hoover

http://www.potus.com/hchoover.html

And all the way back to the First GW.

http://www.potus.com/gwashington.html

Sorry, but Flamer needs to be exposed not only for it's bias but also as a racist.
blueflame1
 
  2  
Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2008 11:40 am
@Woiyo9,
You got me pegged. haha. I didn't realize it. I thought I was just interested in history and history in the making.
parados
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2008 11:47 am
@Woiyo9,
Woiyo9 wrote:

Not very difficult at all.

Here is FDR for example.

http://www.potus.com/fdroosevelt.html

Look...Herbert Hoover

http://www.potus.com/hchoover.html

And all the way back to the First GW.

http://www.potus.com/gwashington.html

Sorry, but Flamer needs to be exposed not only for it's bias but also as a racist.


I see you couldn't name a single one without looking them up which was my point. Now are you forced to google the name of Washington's wife as well before you can name her? Or do you know it off the top of your head like most Americans?
Woiyo9
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2008 12:38 pm
@parados,
No, just demonstrating that it is not difficult to find out who they were if you wanted to. You said it might be difficult to find out. You were wrong.
Woiyo9
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2008 12:38 pm
@blueflame1,
Were you as interested in Condi Rice's "roots" or are you just picking and choosing who you are interested in?
 

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