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Obama Had Slaveowning Kin

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  • Ram Lau
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/03/us/politics/03obama.html March 3, 2007 Obama Had Slaveowning Kin By RACHEL L. SWARNS WASHINGTON, March 2 — Genealogists
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 3, 2007
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      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/03/us/politics/03obama.html
      March 3, 2007
      Obama Had Slaveowning Kin
      By RACHEL L. SWARNS

      WASHINGTON, March 2 — Genealogists have uncovered a new ingredient in
      the melting pot identity of Senator Barack Obama, the Illinois
      Democrat who hopes to become the first black president. His white
      maternal ancestors once owned slaves.

      Mr. Obama is the American-born son of a white woman from Kansas and a
      black man from Kenya. The genealogists, led by William Addams
      Reitwiesner, studied the family history of Mr. Obama's mother and
      determined that Mr. Obama's great-great-great-great grandfather,
      George Washington Overall, owned two slaves listed in the 1850 census
      in Nelson County, Ky.

      Mr. Obama's great-great-great-great-great grandmother, Mary Duval,
      also owned two slaves, the records show.

      Mr. Reitwiesner, who works for the Library of Congress, posted the
      information on his personal Web site a while ago, said a genealogist
      who worked with him. The Baltimore Sun reported the findings on Friday.

      The details emerged the same week that the Rev. Al Sharpton disclosed
      that his great-grandfather was owned by a relative of Senator Strom
      Thurmond of South Carolina, once a defender of segregation.

      Historians said the disclosures highlighted the deep, though often
      unknown and unacknowledged, imprint of slavery in the lives of
      present-day Americans.

      Bill Burton, a spokesman for Mr. Obama, said the senator had long
      known that he was related to Jefferson Davis, president of the
      Confederacy, and that another forebear had fought for the Union in the
      Civil War. Mr. Burton said the findings showed Mr. Obama's ancestors
      were "representative of America."

      "It is a true measure of progress that the descendant of a slave owner
      would come to marry a student from Kenya and produce a son who would
      grow up to be a candidate for president of the United States," Mr.
      Burton said.
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