On June 16 the New York Times posted an article delving into the first lady’s white lineage, an expansion of a piece titled “In First Lady’s Roots, A Complex path From Slavery” written in 2009.
Her exact relatives were revealed using DNA testing and research. Joan Tribble, a Georgia was pictured next to her great-great grandfather’s grave.
That man is Henry Wells Shields, a farmer, teacher and slave owner who inherited Michelle Obama’s great-great-great grandmother, Melvinia Shields, after his father-in-law died in 1852. His son, Charles Marion Shields is the father of Melvinia’s child.
Melvinia was approximately 15 when she gave birth to her son, Dolphus. She died in 1938 and was described as “illiterate and no stranger to laboring in the fields.”
She had biracial children after the Civil War, making the caucasian Shield family hope that the relationship with Charles was not forced though a friend of Melvinia’s expressed in a 2010 interview that she thought differently.
Thanks to Jarrod Shields, another relative of Henry Shields, a photo of the family from around 1884 has surfaced. Jarrod told Times reporter Rachel L. Swarns:
“I always really wanted to say I was sorry. I also wanted to let them know that we’re glad that you’re part of our family, however it came about.’’