Aysha Hussain, a writer for Diversity Inc., states that "Ever since the nation first met Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in 2004, his race has been called into question more times than Michael Jackson's."
And the author's right, though Hussain attributes this focus on race to the belief, held by some historians, that "people don't really understand the genealogy of past U.S. Presidents."
In my own research on Melungeons - a distinct cultural group of tri-racial (black, white, Native American) and/or unknown foreign origins - I have come across researchers who show that at least five U.S. presidents had black ancestors.
Hussain also names these U.S. Presidents in her article, "Obama Wouldn't Be First Black President" (free access with email registration).
Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. President, was the "son of a half-breed Indian squaw and a Virginia mulatto father."
Andrew Jackson, the seventh U.S. President, was "the son of an Irish woman who married a black man." (His older brother was reportedly sold into slavery.)
Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth U.S. President, had dark skin, course hair, and a heritage that included Melungeon or African ancestors. Hussein writes that "His heritage fueled so much controversy that Lincoln was nicknamed "Abraham Africanus the First" by his opponents."
Warren Harding, the twenty-ninth U.S. President, never denied his African heritage, and reportedly had black ancestors on both sides of his family; it is also said that Harding attended a school that was founded to educate fugitive slaves.
Calvin Coolidge, the thirtieth U.S. President, was found to have African and possibly Native American heritage as well.
Book Resources for further information:
* Black People and Their Place in World History, by historian Leroy Vaughn
* Children of Perdition: Melungeons and the struggle of mixed America, by researcher and writer Tim Hashaw
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