Michelle Obama, the wife of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, has been offered a chance to visit the gravesite of a slave ancestor on a plantation in South Carolina.
Whitney Tower tells the New York Daily News that his great-great-grandfather was ferry and railroad baron Cornelius Vanderbilt, and one of Michelle Robinson Obama’s great-great-grandfathers was Jim Robinson, who was born a slave in 1850 at the Friendfield plantation in Georgetown, S.C.
“After Lincoln freed the slaves, Jim Robinson stayed on and worked there,” Tower told the Rush & Malloy column. “We believe he was buried there in 1888, in the African-American cemetery. Ms. Obama is welcome to visit anytime.”
Michelle Obama visited Georgetown as a child and reconnected with relatives still living there while on a campaign stop in January, reported Shailagh Murray in an extensive Washington Post article on her genealogy. Her otherwise communicative family “didn’t talk about that,” and she had no idea of her connection to Friendfield, though she passed it “countless times” as a child, Murray said.
While her husband Barack does not have slave roots, Michelle would be the first First Lady who does.