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October 14th, 2009
11:10 AM ET

Tracing Michelle Obama’s roots

A New York Times article reported last week that Michelle Obama's great-great-great grandmother was a slave.

A New York Times article reported last week that Michelle Obama's great-great-great grandmother was a slave.

Tony Burroughs
CNN

Last week a New York Times article reported that Michelle Obama's great-great-great grandparents were a white man and a slave whom he impregnated. This story highlights the growing importance of genealogy in America.

Some of the comments posted online were from people skeptical that the full story of Michelle Obama's ancestry will ever be known.

One said, "The concept that records simply don't exist beyond the mid-1800s for so much of her family is so telling about the legacy of slavery we'll never shed."

Another said, "Where in Africa did Michelle Obama's ancestors come from? What was their tribe? When were they enslaved, and what were their experiences as individuals? What happened to these human beings after they were brought in chains to America? These things will very likely never be known."

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