PLEDGE NOW
Michelle Obama's Genealogy

Michelle Obama

For most of us, family history is a kitchen table conversation. Personal. Private. And sometimes just a mystery.

When you’re First Lady — and the first African-American First Lady in the White House — it’s different.

Last week — page one, New York Times — new research on Michelle Obama’s family tree was laid out for the world, and for her.

A great, great, great grandmother traded away at six as a slave. A white father to that slave’s children, Michelle Obama’s family line.

This hour, On Point: Michelle Obama’s family tree, and the story it tells about our history, our country. 

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Guests:

Joining us from Philadelphia is Megan Smolenyak, a genealogist who worked with The New York Times to investigate Michelle Obama’s family tree. The result was the recent article, “In First Lady’s Roots, a Complex Path From Slavery.” She is also president of RootsTelevision.com and author of several books, including “Trace Your Roots with DNA: Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family Tree.”

From Washington we’re joined by Edna Greene Medford, professor of history at Howard University and an expert in 19th-century African-American history. She’s co-author of “The Emancipation Proclamation: Three Views.”

Also from Washington we’re joined by Sam Sanders. He’s an NPR Kroc Fellow, a program for aspiring public radio journalists, and a former intern for On Point. He blogs at “The Not So Angry Black Man.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Feb 9, 2016
Host Tom Ashbrook and producer Sarah Platt speak to supporters of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) outside the candidate's Manchester, N.H. campaign headquarters on Monday, February 8, 2016. (Katherine Brewer / WBUR)

We’re live in New Hampshire for the first in the nation primary day, with all the latest on how the big vote is shaping up.

Feb 9, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop at a Rotary Club luncheon in Manchester, N.H., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

From New Hampshire, a deep dive, from Trump to Sanders, on how the candidates would approach the U.S. economy.

RECENT
SHOWS
Feb 8, 2016
Legendary film critic  Roger Ebert in an archival image from his early days at the Chicago Sun-Times. (Flickr / WikiCommons)

The critic speaks. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott on how to think about art, pleasure, beauty and truth.

 
Feb 8, 2016
Sign stands outside property for rent Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in south Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

If it feels like rents are sky-high, you’re right. Some now paying more than half their income on rent. Some say crisis. We’ll dig in.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Notes From New Hampshire, #6: Bernie v. Hillary — The Electability Debate
Monday, Feb 8, 2016

Bill and Betty are not real New Hampshire voters. But their arguments about the Democratic race for President most certainly are.

More »
Comment
 
Notes From New Hampshire, #5: Ted Cruz — The Advocate
Monday, Feb 8, 2016

Texas Senator and Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz is an impassioned advocate, Jack Beatty writes — but mostly for himself above all others.

More »
Comment
 
Notes From New Hampshire, #4: Donald Trump — You Heard It First!
Friday, Feb 5, 2016

Jack Beatty recounts an evening rally with Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, and wonders if the billionaire businessman is really looking for an exit.

More »
Comment