Posts Tagged ‘genealogy’

Genealogists: Obama Descendant of First American Slave

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012


( In a reminder of the complexity of racial identity, genealogists Monday announced that President Barack Obama is probably a descendant of the first American slave — on his mother’s side.

Prior to the discovery, it was believed Obama’s African heritage came exclusively from his father, Barack Obama, Sr. His mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was white.

Obama, America’s first African American president, is likely the 11th-great grandson of John Punch, an African indentured servant who lived in Virginia in the 1640s. After attempting to escape, Punch was sentenced to remain enslaved for life. Some historians consider Punch to be the first American slave, and there is no question his case helped pave the way for slavery.

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Pinpointing DNA Ancestry in Africa

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

(The Root) Before the advent of DNA testing, scholars relied on shipping records that listed the African ports from which slaves were exported to determine where in Africa the African-descended population of the United States originated. But these lists were quite limited because they noted only the port of departure and not the actual community from which the enslaved were taken. 

Advancements in DNA analyses, along with African shipping records, have revealed that African Americans do not have roots in the entire continent. A relatively small number of African groups supplied the lion's share of the ancestral African population.

In fact, three large regions of Atlantic Africa were the major contributors to the slave trade: Upper Guinea, including the modern countries of Senegal, Mali, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia; Lower Guinea, including the southern portions of Eastern Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria; and West Central Africa, which encompassed mostly the western portions of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. In all, these regions made up only about 15 percent of Africa's total area, all on the Atlantic side of the continent.

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