Michelle Obama`s ancestry traced to slave-owners

A new book has traced US First Lady Michelle Obama`s ancestry to white slave-owners in Georgia.

Updated: Jun 17, 2012, 14:19 PM IST

Washington: A new book has traced US First Lady Michelle Obama`s ancestry to white slave-owners in Georgia, whose white descendants have mixed feelings about the revelation.

New York Times reporter Rachel L Swarns has traced the ancestry in her new book `American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama`.

"You really don`t like to face this kind of thing," the Politico quoted Joan Tribble, whose ancestors owned the first lady`s great-great-great-grandmother, according to Swarns, as saying.

Swarns used DNA tests and conducted more than two years of research for the book, which is scheduled to be released on Tuesday.

She found that Obama`s great-great-great grandmother, Melvinia Shields, was about 15 years old when the son of her white owner, 20-year-old Charles Marion Shields, impregnated her with a son.

That bi-racial son, Dolphus T Shields, became Obama`s maternal great-great grandfather.

The details of the relationship between Melvinia and Charles, whether it was consensual or forced, remain unknown, but Swarns found that black descendants believe it was probably forced while white ones hope it was not.

"To me, it`s an obvious love story that was hard for the South to accept back then," Aliene Shields, a white descendant who lives in South Carolina, said.

“Slave time, you know how the white men used to fool with them black women, that`s what I heard," Jewell Barclay, the great granddaughther Dolphus Shields, said.

In an adapted excerpt of the book, Swarns notes how the first lady`s ancestry reflects the tangled bloodlines of contemporary America and its tangled history.