Family of Barack Obama

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The Obama family
Barack Obama family portrait 2011.jpg
U.S. First Family (2011; from L-R): Michelle Obama, Malia Obama, Barack Obama, and Sasha Obama.
EthnicityAfrican American, English American
Current regionWashington, D.C., U.S.
Place of originvarious
Notable membersBarack Obama, Michelle Obama, Ann Dunham, Barack Obama, Sr..
Connected familiesRobinson, Dunham, Soetoro, Ng
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The Obama family
Barack Obama family portrait 2011.jpg
U.S. First Family (2011; from L-R): Michelle Obama, Malia Obama, Barack Obama, and Sasha Obama.
EthnicityAfrican American, English American
Current regionWashington, D.C., U.S.
Place of originvarious
Notable membersBarack Obama, Michelle Obama, Ann Dunham, Barack Obama, Sr..
Connected familiesRobinson, Dunham, Soetoro, Ng
This article is part of a series on
Barack Obama

First term

Second term

The family of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America, is made up of people of African-American, English, Kenyan (Luo), and Irish heritage,[1][2] who are known through Obama's writings and other reports.[3][4][5][6] His immediate family is the First Family of the United States. The Obamas are the first First Family of African descent.

Immediate family

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama, née Robinson, the wife of Barack Obama, was born on January 17, 1964, in Chicago, Illinois. She is a lawyer and was a University of Chicago Hospital vice-president. She is the First Lady of the United States.

Malia Obama and Sasha Obama

Barack and Michelle Obama have two daughters: Malia Ann /məˈlə/, born on July 4, 1998,[7] and Natasha (known as Sasha /ˈsɑːʃə/), born on June 10, 2001.[8] They were both delivered by their parents' friend Dr. Anita Blanchard at University of Chicago Medical Center.[9] Sasha is the youngest child to reside in the White House since John F. Kennedy, Jr. arrived as an infant in 1961.[10]
Before his inauguration, President Obama published an open letter to his daughters in Parade magazine, describing what he wants for them and every child in America: "to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world."[11]
While living in Chicago, the Obamas kept busy schedules, as the Associated Press reports: "soccer, dance and drama for Malia, gymnastics and tap for Sasha, piano and tennis for both."[12][13] In July 2008, the family gave an interview to the television series Access Hollywood. Obama later said they regretted allowing the children to be included.[14]
Malia and Sasha attend the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., the same school that Chelsea Clinton, Tricia Nixon Cox, and Archibald Roosevelt attended and that the grandchildren of Vice President Joe Biden attend.[15] The Obama girls began classes there on January 5, 2009.[16] While in Chicago, both attended the private University of Chicago Laboratory School.
In his victory speech on the night of his election, President Obama repeated his promise to Sasha and Malia to get a puppy to take with them to the White House.[17] The selection was slow because Malia is allergic to animal dander;[18] the president subsequently said that the choice had been narrowed down to either a labradoodle or Portuguese Water Dog, and they hoped to find a shelter animal.[19] On April 12, 2009, it was reported that the Obamas had adopted a six-month-old Portuguese Water Dog given to them as a gift from Senator Ted Kennedy;[20] the dog was named Bo by Malia and Sasha.[20] The White House refers to Bo as the "First Dog".[21] In 2013, they adopted a second Portuguese Water Dog named Sunny.[22]

Marian Robinson

Marian Robinson, Barack Obama's mother-in-law, resides in the White House. She is part of the Robinson family (see below).
Barack and Michelle Obama and family
Barack and Michelle dance at the "Obama Home States Inaugural Gala" at the Walter E. Washington Convention, celebrating his Inauguration. 
Left-to-right: Malia, Michelle and Sasha on stage at the 2008 Democratic National Convention 
The Obamas relax on a sofa in the Oval Office. 
The Obamas walking with their dog, Bo, on the South Lawn of the White House 
The Obamas on the campaign trail 

Maternal relations

Right-to-left: Barack Obama and Maya Soetoro with their mother Ann Dunham and grandfather Stanley Dunham in Hawaii (early 1970s)

Barack Obama was raised by his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, called Ann, and grandparents Madelyn and Stanley Dunham.[23][24] He often referred to his family during his candidacy and term as President.[25][26][27]

Ann Dunham

Mother of Barack Obama, born in 1942; died in 1995. Born Stanley Ann Dunham, she was an American anthropologist who specialized in economic anthropology and rural development. She earned her PhD from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and worked with the United States Agency for International Development, the Ford Foundation, and Women's World Banking, to promote the use of microcredit in order to combat global poverty.[23][28] The Ann Dunham Soetoro Endowment in the Anthropology Department at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and the Ann Dunham Soetoro Graduate Fellowships at the East–West Center (EWC) in Honolulu, Hawaii are named in her honor.[29] Obama refers to his mother as the dominant figure in his formative years. "The values she taught me continue to be my touchstone when it comes to how I go about the world of politics."[30]

Stanley Armour Dunham

Stanley Dunham is the grandfather of Barack Obama. He was born in 1918 and served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army during World War II, enlisting just after the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Stanley and his wife Madelyn raised Obama in Honolulu, Hawaii. In addition to Obama, Stanley is related to six US presidents: James Madison, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush.[31][32] He died in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1992, and is buried at the Punchbowl National Cemetery.

Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham

Barack Obama's maternal grandmother was born in 1922 and died on November 2, 2008.[33] She was a bank vice president in Hawaii. Obama said that when he was a child, his grandmother "read me the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence and told me about the men and women who marched for equality because they believed those words put to paper two centuries ago should mean something."[11] According to Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father,[34] his great-grandmother Leona McCurry was part Native American, which Obama was told Leona held as a "source of considerable shame" and "blanched whenever someone mentioned the subject and hoped to carry the secret to her grave"; whereas her daughter (Obama's maternal grandmother) "would turn her head in profile to show off her beaked nose, which along with a pair of jet-black eyes, was offered as proof of Cherokee blood."[35] To date, no concrete evidence has surfaced of Cherokee heritage.

Obama's maternal heritage consists mostly of English ancestry, with much smaller amounts of German, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Swiss, and French ancestry.[3] In July 2012, published a report linking Obama through his mother to John Punch, believed to have been the first African enslaved for life in the Virginia Colony, through a court punishment in 1640. Y-DNA testing of his Punch descendants suggest that he was from Cameroon in West Africa.[36]

Charles Thomas Payne

Grand-uncle of Barack Obama, younger brother of Madelyn Dunham, born 1925. Served during World War II in the U.S. Army 89th Infantry Division.[37] Obama has often described Payne's role in liberating Ohrdruf forced labor camp.[38] There was brief media attention when Obama mistakenly identified the camp as Auschwitz during the campaign.[39] In 2009, Payne spoke about this experiences:

"Ohrdruf was in that string of towns going across, south of Gotha and Erfurt. Our division was the first one in there. When we arrived there were no German soldiers anywhere around that I knew about. There was no fighting against the Germans, no camp guards. The whole area was overrun by people from the camp dressed in the most pitiful rags, and most of them were in a bad state of starvation."[40]

Payne appeared in the visitor's gallery at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, when his great-nephew was nominated for President.[41] He was the assistant director of the University of Chicago's Library.[38]

Ralph Dunham

Grand-uncle of Barack Obama, older brother of Stanley Dunham, born 1916. He served in the U.S. Army as an assignment and personnel officer during World War II, landing at Normandy's Omaha Easy Red Beach on D-Day plus four, working his way through France, Italy and Germany.[42][43]

Lolo Soetoro

His formal Javanese given name was Martodihardjo.[44] The second husband of Ann Dunham (married on March 15, 1965)[45] and stepfather to Barack Obama, born in Indonesia 1936, died 1987. He is the father of Maya Soetoro-Ng. After his divorce from Dunham, Soetoro married Erna Kustina. She bore him two children, Yusuf Aji Soetoro (b. 1981) and Rahayu Nurmaida Soetoro (b. 1984).[46]

Maya Soetoro-Ng

Half-sister of Barack Obama, born August 15, 1970, in Jakarta, Indonesia.[47] She has another half-brother, Yusuf, and a half-sister, Aya, from her father's second marriage. She is married to Konrad Ng, with whom she has two daughters, Suhaila and Savita. Maya Soetoro-Ng is a teacher in Hawaii.[48]

Konrad Ng

Brother-in-law of Barack Obama, born 1974. He is of Malaysian Chinese descent,[49] and his parents are from Kudat and Sandakan, two small towns in Sabah, Malaysia. Ng and his younger brother, Perry, were born and raised in Burlington, Ontario.[50] Perry Ng works for the University of Ottawa.[49] He married Maya Soetoro-Ng at the end of 2003 in Hawaii.[51] They have two daughters, Suhaila[52][53][54] and Savita.[48] Konrad Ng is a US citizen.[55] He is an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii's Academy of Creative Media.[56] He studied philosophy at McGill University and cultural studies at the University of Victoria before he got his PhD from University of Hawaii at Manoa.[57][58]

Robert Wolfley

Barack Obama's great-great-great-grandfather. He served as a private in Company A, 145th Ohio Infantry during the American Civil War. He is buried in the Olathe Memorial Cemetery in Olathe, Kansas.[59]

John Punch

News sources reported in July 2012 that according to, through research in a combination of historical documents and yDNA analysis, John Punch, the first documented African slave in the American British colonies, has been documented as likely an eleventh great-grandfather of Obama through his mother, Ann Dunham, and her Bunch ancestors.[60][61] There were both white and African-American lines of descent from Punch; through intermarriage, some Bunch descendants were classified as white by the early 18th century. Other Bunch descendants intermarried as free people of color; their descendants include Ralph Bunche, US minister to the United Nations.[61][62]

Jonathan Singletary Dunham

Born in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1640, Barack Obama's eighth great-grandfather was his earliest ancestor known to be born in North America.[3][63]

Paternal relations

The Obamas are members of the Luo people, Kenya's second-largest ethnic group. Linguistically, Luo is one of the Nilotic languages. The Obama family is concentrated in the western Kenyan province of Nyanza.

Front row (left to right): Auma Obama (Barack's half-sister), Kezia Obama (Barack's stepmother), Sarah Hussein Onyango Obama (third wife of Barack's paternal grandfather), Zeituni Onyango (Barack's aunt)
Back row (left to right): Sayid Obama (Barack's uncle), Barack Obama, Abongo [Roy] Obama (Barack's half-brother), unidentified woman, Bernard Obama (Barack's half-brother), Abo Obama (Barack's half-brother).

Hussein Onyango Obama

Barack Obama's paternal grandfather (c. 1895–1979).[64] (One source gives 1870–1975 as his dates of birth and death, possibly based on his tombstone in his home village,[65] Barack Obama relates finding in 1988 a British document based on a 1928 ordinance recording his grandfather as 35 years old. The date of the document was estimated to be about 1930, which would mean that his grandfather had been born around 1895.[66]) Onyango was the fifth son of his mother, Nyaoke, who was the first of the five wives of his father, Obama.[67] Barack Obama relates how his step-grandmother Granny Sarah (Sarah Onyango Obama) describes his grandfather: "Even from the time that he was a boy, your grandfather Onyango was strange. It is said of him that he had ants up his anus, because he could not sit still."[68] As a young man, he learned to speak, read and write in English.[69]
Onyango worked as a mission cook and as a local herbalist.[68] He joined the King's African Rifles[70] during World War I.
In 1949, Onyango spent at least 6 months in Kamiti Prison. He was likely tried in a magistrates' court on charges of political sedition or membership of a banned organisation, but the records do not survive, because all such documentation was routinely destroyed after six years in British colonies. He was tortured to extract information about the growing insurgency.[71] In his memoir, Obama recounted family descriptions of his grandfather's shocking physical state when released from prison:

"When he returned to Alego he was very thin and dirty. He had difficulty walking, and his head was full of lice." For some time, he was too traumatized to speak about his experiences. His wife told his grandson Obama: "From that day on, I saw that he was now an old man."[69]

Onyango was permanently scarred, remaining in pain and requiring assistance in moving until his death. Although previously he had worked closely with British colonists, his torture left Onyango bitterly anti-British.[72]
Onyango is sometimes referred to as Mzee Hussein Onyango Obama. The word mzee is a Kenyan honorific meaning "elder".
According to his third wife, Sarah, Onyango had first converted from tribal religion to Catholicism. After later converting to Islam, he took the name Hussein. She said that he passed on the name to his children, not the religion.[73] The Luo are given names related to the circumstances of their birth, and Onyango means "born in the early morning."[74]

Habiba Akumu Obama

Also known as Akumu Nyanjoga (c. 1918–2006).[75][76][77][78] Barack Obama's paternal grandmother, and the second wife of Hussein Onyango Obama. She had three children with Onyango: daughters Sarah and Auma, and son Barack (Barack Obama's father).[79] Her father was named Njango, and she was born and raised in the Western Kenyan village of Karabondi.[78][80] In his memoir Dreams from My Father, her grandson wrote that she was miserable in her marriage and abandoned her husband and children with him. She subsequently married again and moved to present-day Tanzania. The Luo are given names related to the circumstances of their birth and Akumu means "mysterious birth," a conception after a birth, but before resumption of a woman's menses.[74] She took the name Habiba upon her conversion to Islam. A photograph of her holding her son, Barack, Sr., on her lap is on the cover of her grandson's memoir. (See image at right margin.)[81]

Sarah Obama (aunt of Barack Obama)

Aunt of U.S. President Barack Obama and elder sister of his father, born 1933 to Hussein Onyango and Habiba Akumu Obama.[82] (She should not be confused with her stepmother Sarah Onyango Obama, also often called just Sarah Obama, the third wife of Onyango.)

Barack Obama, Sr.

Barack Obama's father (1934–1982). Government economist in Kenya. In addition to President Obama, Barack Obama Sr. fathered one daughter and at least four sons.[83]

Hawa Auma Hussein (aunt of Barack Obama)

Aunt of U.S. President Barack Obama and younger sister of his father, born to Hussein Onyango and Habiba Akumu Obama.[82] She is the sole surviving full sibling of Barack Obama, Sr.[84]

Sarah Onyango Obama

Third wife of Obama's paternal grandfather, born 1922.[65] She is known for short as Sarah Obama; she is sometimes referred to as Sarah Ogwel, Sarah Hussein Obama or Sarah Anyango Obama.[85] She lives in Nyang'oma Kogelo village, 30 miles west of western Kenya's main town, Kisumu, on the edge of Lake Victoria.[86][87] (She should not be confused with her stepdaughter of the same name, Sarah Obama, a daughter of Onyango's second wife, Akumu.)[88]
Although she is not a blood relation, Barack Obama calls her "Granny Sarah".[85][89] Sarah, who speaks Luo and only a few words of English, communicates with President Obama through an interpreter.
On July 4, 2008, she attended the United States Independence Day celebrations in Nairobi, hosted by Michael Ranneberger, the US ambassador in Kenya.[90]
During the campaign, she protested attempts to portray Obama as a foreigner to the United States or as a Muslim, saying that while Obama's grandfather had been a Muslim, "In the world of today, children have different religions from their parents."[73] Sarah Obama herself is "a strong believer of the Islamic faith", in her words.[91]

Kezia Obama

(Also known as Kezia Aoko[92] and as "Grace"[93][94]). Born c. 1940, she is Barack Obama, Sr.'s first wife; she married him in Kenya before studying abroad in the United States. She lives in Bracknell, Berkshire, England.[95][96] On March 22, 2009, Kezia made a guest appearance on the British television show Chris Moyles' Quiz Night.[97] Her sister, Jane, is the 'Auntie Jane' mentioned at the very start of Dreams from My Father when she telephoned Obama to tell him that his father had been killed in a car accident.[98]

Malik Obama

Barack Obama's half-brother, also known as Abongo or Roy, was born c. March 1958,[95] the son of Barack Obama, Sr., with his first wife, Kezia.[99] Malik Obama was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya.[100] He earned a degree in accounting from the University of Nairobi.[101] The half brothers met for the first time in 1985[100] when Barack flew from Chicago to Washington, D.C., to visit Malik.[102] Malik and his half-brother Barack were best men at each other's weddings.[100] Barack Obama brought his wife Michelle to Kenya three years later, and they met with Malik again while meeting many other new relatives.[103]
Although much of the Obama family has dispersed throughout Kenya and overseas, most, including Malik Obama, still considered their rural village on the shores of Lake Victoria to be their true home. They feel that those who have left the village have become culturally "lost".[104] A frequent visitor to the United States,[103] and a consultant in Washington, D.C., for several months each year,[100] Malik settled in the Obamas' ancestral home, Nyang'oma Kogelo, a village of several hundred people. He prefers its slow pace to that of the city.[100] He runs a small electronics shop a half-hour's drive outside of town.[100]
During his brother's presidential campaign, Malik Obama was a spokesman for the extended Obama family in Kenya, dealing with safety and privacy concerns arising from the increased attention from the press.[105] He ran for governor of the Kenyan county of Siaya in 2013,[106] and was defeated by a wide margin.[107]

Auma Obama

Barack Obama's half-sister, born c. 1960, to Kezia, his father's first wife.[108] As of July 2008, she was a development worker in Kenya.[109] She studied German at the University of Heidelberg from 1981 to 1987. After her graduation in Heidelberg, she went on for graduate studies at the University of Bayreuth, earning a PhD in 1996. Her dissertation was on the conception of labor in Germany and its literary reflections.[109] Auma Obama has lived in London. In 1996 she married an Englishman, Ian Manners, although they have since divorced.[110] They have a daughter named Akinyi (b. 1997).[109][111] In 2011 Auma Obama was interviewed for Turk Pipkin's documentary Building Hope.

Abo Obama

Barack Obama's alleged half-brother, also known as Samson Obama,[112] born 1968. In Dreams from My Father, it is stated that the Obama family doubt Abo and Bernard are the biological sons of Barack Obama, Sr. Abo is a mobile phone shop manager in Kenya.[113]

Bernard Obama

Barack Obama's alleged half-brother, born 1970. Dreams from My Father states that the Obama family doubt Abo and Bernard are the biological sons of Barack Obama, Sr. He had been an auto parts supplier in Nairobi, Kenya, and has one child. Bernard converted to Islam as an adult and has said: "I'm a Muslim, I don't deny it. My father was raised a Muslim. But it's not an issue. I don't know what all the hullabaloo is about."[citation needed]

Ruth (Baker) Ndesandjo

Born Ruth Beatrice Baker was born in the United States around 1937, the daughter of Maurice Joseph Baker and Ida Baker of Newton, Massachusetts, who are of Lithuanian Jewish descent.[114] Ruth was a 1954 graduate of Brookline High School in Brookline, Massachusetts, and a 1958 graduate of Simmons College in Boston with a degree in business.[114] She was a suburban elementary school teacher when she met and began dating Barack, Sr., in Cambridge in June 1964, a month before his return to Kenya in August 1964.[114] She followed Obama, Sr., back to Kenya five weeks later, and married him in Kenya in a civil ceremony on December 24, 1964.[114] She later became a private kindergarten director in Kenya.[115] She had two sons with Barack Obama, Sr.: Mark and David. Since she remarried when they were young, they took their stepfather's surname, Ndesandjo, as their own. Her third son, Joseph Ndesandjo, was born c. 1980 in her second marriage.

Mark Okoth Obama Ndesandjo

Barack Obama's half-brother, son of Ruth Baker and Barack Obama, Sr.[116] Author of a memoir published in 2013,[117] he runs an Internet company called WorldNexus that advises Chinese corporations how best to reach international customers.[118] Mark graduated from Brown University, studied physics at Stanford University, received an MBA from Emory University, and has lived in Shenzhen, China, since 2002.[119] Through his mother, he is Jewish.[120] He is married to Liu Xuehua (also spelled Liu Zue Hua in some reports), a Chinese woman from Henan Province.[121][122] He is an accomplished pianist.[123]
In 2009, he published a semi-autobiographical novel, Nairobi to Shenzhen: A Novel of Love in the East.[124][125] He also published an autobiography entitled, Cultures: My Odyssey of Self-Discovery, in February 2014.[126]

David Ndesandjo (c. 1967 – c. 1987)

Barack Obama's half-brother (also known as David Opiyo Obama), son of Ruth Baker and Barack Obama, Sr. He died in a motorcycle accident.[127][128]

George Hussein Onyango Obama

Youngest half-brother of Barack Obama, born c. 1982, son of Barack Obama, Sr.[129] and Jael Otieno (now a resident of Atlanta, Georgia).[130][131] George was six months old when his father died in an automobile accident, after which he was raised in Nairobi by his mother and a French step-father. He later lived in South Korea for two years while his mother resided there for business reasons.[130] Returning to Kenya, George Obama "slept rough for several years,"[132] until his aunt gave him a six-by-eight foot corrugated metal shack in the Nairobi slum of Huruma Flats.[130] As of August 2008, Obama was studying to become a mechanic.[130] George received little attention until being featured in an article in the Italian-language edition of Vanity Fair in August 2008, which portrayed him as living in poverty, shame, and obscurity.[133] The article quoted George Obama as saying that he lived "on less than a dollar a month" and said that he "does not mention his famous half-brother in conversation" out of shame at his poverty.[134] In later interviews, George contradicted this picture. In an interview with The Times, he "said that he was furious at subsequent reports that he had been abandoned by the Obama family and that he was filled with shame about living in a slum."[131] He told The Times, "Life in Huruma is good." George Obama said that he expects no favors, that he was supported by relatives, and that reports he lived on a dollar a month were "all lies by people who don't want my brother to win."[131] He told The Telegraph that he was inspired by his half-brother.[130] According to Time, George "has repeatedly denied ... that he feels abandoned by Obama."[135] CNN quoted him as saying, "I was brought up well. I live well even now. The magazines, they have exaggerated everything – I think I kind of like it here. There are some challenges, but maybe it is just like where you come from, there are the same challenges."[133] George and the British journalist Damien Lewis published George's story in a 2011 book called Homeland.[136][137] George also appeared in the film 2016: Obama's America, which was widely considered an anti-Obama documentary.[138]

Omar Okech Obama

At times using a variation of the name of his father, Onyango Obama,[139][140] Omar Okech Obama is a half-uncle of Barack Obama.[141] Born on June 3, 1944, in Nyang'oma Kogelo, he is the eldest son of Onyango and his third wife, Sarah Obama. He moved to the United States in October 1963 when he was 17 years old as part of Kenya politician Tom Mboya's Airlift Africa project.[139][142] Once he arrived in the country, his half-brother, Barack Obama, Sr., found him a place at a boys' school then known as Browne & Nichols, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[139] He later dropped out of school and changed his name to O. Onyango Obama.[139] He has operated a liquor store in Framingham, where he resided as of March 2011.[139][143] Barack Obama lived with Onyango in the 1980s while Obama was a student at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[144]
Omar Okech Obama was subject to a deportation order in 1989.[145] After an unsuccessful appeal, he was given a new deportation order in 1992.[145][146] He was arrested on August 24, 2011, for driving under the influence, or DUI,[145] and was held in jail until September 9, 2011, on a federal immigration warrant.[140][147] The Boston Herald reported in August 2011 that Obama had had a valid Social Security card "for at least 19 years."[148] On November 30, 2012, the Board of Immigration Appeals remanded the immigration case to the Executive Office for Immigration Review for reconsideration of the original order of deportation that was issued in 1986 and re-issued in 1992.[149][150]
An immigration judge ruled on January 30, 2013, that Onyango Obama would receive a deportation hearing.[142] Onyango's attorneys said that his defense at the December 3, 2013, deportation hearing would be a reliance on the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, because Onyango had resided in the U.S. since before January 1, 1972, the cutoff date of the 1986 amnesty.[151] At the hearing, Immigration Judge Leonard I. Shapiro ruled that Onyango was eligible for permanent residence and that Onyango would receive a green card.[152]

Zeituni Onyango

Half-aunt of Barack Obama,[153] born May 29, 1952, in Kenya,[154] Onyango is referred to as "Aunti Zeituni" in the memoir Dreams from My Father.[155] She was denied political asylum in the US in 2004, but remained in the country illegally. Her presence was leaked to the media during Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. She was granted asylum in 2010. She died from complications caused by respiratory problems and cancer on April 8, 2014.[156]

Yusuf Obama

Half-uncle of Barack Obama,[141][dead link] born c. 1950s in Nyang'oma Kogelo; son of Onyango and Sarah Obama.[citation needed]

Sayid Obama

Half-uncle of Barack Obama,[141][dead link][157] born c. 1950s in Nyang'oma Kogelo; son of Onyango and Sarah Obama.[citation needed]

Michelle Robinson Obama's extended family

Fraser Robinson, Sr. (1884–1936) of South Carolina, shown in an old photo with an inset photograph of Rosella Cohen Robinson
Fraser Robinson III and Marian Robinson pose with their son Craig and infant daughter Michelle in a 1964 family portrait.
Marian Robinson (second from right) makes an appearance with the rest of the immediate family of Barack Obama on the South Portico of the White House during festivities of the 2009 White House Easter Egg Roll

Barack Obama has called his wife Michelle "the most quintessentially American woman I know."[4] Her family is of African-American heritage, descendants of Africans and Europeans of the colonial era and antebellum eras.[4] Michelle Obama's family history traces from slavery in the South to Reconstruction to the Great Migration to northern cities, in her family's case, Cleveland and Chicago. Each of her four grandparents was multiracial.[158] Some of Michelle's relatives still reside in South Carolina. Extended family from her mother's Shields ancestors also reside in Georgia and throughout the South.

Jim Robinson

Michelle's earliest known relative on her father's side is her great-great grandfather Jim Robinson, born in the 1850s, who was an American slave on the Friendfield Plantation in Georgetown, South Carolina in the Low Country, where African Americans developed as the Gullah people and culture. The family believes that after the Civil War, he worked as a Friendfield sharecropper for the rest of his life. He is said to have been buried there in an unmarked grave.[4]
Jim married twice, first to a woman named Louiser, with whom he had two sons, Gabriel and Fraser, Michelle Obama's great-grandfather. A daughter was born to the family, but her name has not been discovered, and she is believed to have died as a child. His second marriage to Rose Ella Cohen produced six other children. Fraser had an arm amputated as a result of a boyhood injury. He worked as a shoemaker, a newspaper salesman, and in a lumber mill.[4] Carrie Nelson, Gabriel Robinson's daughter, now 80, is the oldest living Robinson and the keeper of family lore.[4]
At least three of Michelle Obama's great-uncles served in the military of the United States. One aunt moved to Princeton, New Jersey, where she worked as a maid. She cooked Southern-style meals for Michelle and her brother Craig, when they were students at Princeton University.

Melvinia Shields

The earliest known relative on her mother's side is her great-great-great-grandmother, Melvinia Shields, who was held as a slave on a farm in Clayton County, North Georgia. Her master was Henry Walls Shields, who had a 200-acre farm near Rex. He would have worked along with his slaves.[158] Melvinia became pregnant at about age 15 and had a biracial son, Dolphus T. Shields, born into slavery about 1860. Melvinia did not talk to relatives about his father.[159] Based on DNA and other evidence, in 2012 researchers said the father was likely 20-year-old Charles Marion Shields, son of Melvinia's master.[158] After the Civil War, Dolphus Shields moved to Birmingham, Alabama. Charles later became a teacher and married a white woman. Michelle Obama's extended family has said that people didn't talk about slavery time while they were growing up.[158] Michelle Obama's distant ancestry also includes Irish and other European roots.[160]
Marian Lois Robinson
Michelle Obama's mother (birthname Marian Lois Shields, born July 30, 1937), is descended from Dolphus Shields and his wife. She is now widowed, but had married Michelle's father, Fraser Robinson, on October 27, 1960.[161][162] Robinson was formerly a secretary at Spiegel catalog and a bank. While Michelle and Barack Obama were campaigning in 2008, Robinson tended the Obamas' young children. She has continued to help care for them while living in the White House as part of the First Family;[163] she is the first live-in grandmother since Elivera M. Doud during the Eisenhower administration.[164] Some media outlets have dubbed Robinson as the "First Granny".[164][165] Marian takes Sasha and Malia to school daily and enjoys life in Washington.[166]

Fraser C. Robinson III

Michelle Obama's father, born August 1, 1935, died March 6, 1991, married Michelle's mother, Marian Shields, on October 27, 1960.[162][167] Robinson was a pump worker at the City of Chicago water plant.[4]

Craig Robinson

Michelle Obama's brother, born 1962. As of the 2012–13 season, he is head coach of men's basketball at Oregon State University.[168]

Fraser Robinson, Jr.

Michelle Obama's paternal grandfather was born on August 24, 1912, in Georgetown, South Carolina, and died on November 9, 1996, aged 84. He was a good student and orator but moved from South Carolina to Chicago during the Great Migration to find better work and living conditions than in the South, where Jim Crow had been imposed and blacks were disfranchised. He became a worker for the United States Postal Service. He married LaVaughn Johnson. When he retired, they moved back to South Carolina.[4]

LaVaughn Dolores Johnson

Michelle Obama's paternal grandmother (February 6, 1915 – September 17, 2002) and wife of Fraser Robinson, Jr. She was born in Chicago, Illinois, to James Preston Johnson (1880–1920?) and Phoebe (1879–1920?).

Capers C. Funnye, Jr.

He is Michelle Obama's first cousin once removed: his mother, Verdelle Robinson Funnye (born Verdelle Robinson; August 22, 1930 – April 16, 2000), was a sister of Michelle Obama's paternal grandfather, Fraser Robinson, Jr. They grew to know each other in Chicago. He is one of America's most prominent African-American rabbis, known for acting as a bridge between mainstream Jewry and African Americans. He converted to Judaism after 1970, during years of activism when he regarded Christianity as having been imposed on slaves.[169]

Genealogical charts


16. Opiyo
8. Obama
17. Marrgorat
4. Hussein Onyango Obama
9. Nyaoke
2. Barack Hussein Obama, Sr.
10. Njango
5. Akumu Nyanjoga
11. NN
Poster-sized portrait of Barack Obama OrigRes.jpg
Barack Hussein Obama II
24. Jacob William Dunham
12. Ralph Waldo Emerson Dunham, Sr.
25. Mary Ann Kearney
6. Stanley Armour Dunham
26. Harry Ellington Armour
13. Ruth Lucille Armour
27. Gabriella Clark
3. Stanley Ann Dunham
28. Charles Thomas Payne
14. Rolla Charles Payne
29. Della L. Wolfley
7. Madelyn Lee Payne
30. Thomas Creekmore McCurry
15. Leona Belle McCurry
31. Margaret Belle Wright
16. Jim Robinson
8. Fraser Robinson, Sr.
17. Louisa
4. Fraser Robinson, Jr.
9. Rose Ella "Rosella" Cohen
2. Fraser C. Robinson III
20. Ruben Johnson
10. James P. Johnson
21. Carrie Don
5. LaVaughn Dolores Johnson
22. Nelson Moten
11. Phoebe Moten
23. Mary
Michelle Obama official portrait headshot.jpg
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson
24. Dolphus Theodore Shields
12. Robert Lee Shields
25. Alice Easley
6. Purnell Nathaniel Shields
26. Nathan Law
13. Anna Estelle Lawson
27. Fannie L. Humphrey
3. Marian L. Shields
28. Peter Jumper
14. James Jumper
29. Eliza Wade
7. Rebecca Jumper (or Coleman)
30. Nelson Tinsely
15. Eliza Tinsley
31. Nancy Morehead

    Swarns, Rachel L. (2012). American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-220465-3. 

Family trees

Distant relations

According to genealogists, Barack Obama's distant cousins include the multitude of descendants of his maternal ancestors from all along the early-American Atlantic seaboard as well as paternal, Kenyan relations belonging to the Luo tribe, many descending from a 17th-century ancestor named Owiny.[170][171] For example, George W. Bush, the 43rd U.S. president, is the eleventh cousin of Barack Obama.[172] The New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade has stated that with eleven generations leading back to their common progenitor, Samuel Hinckley, the relationship between the 43rd President and the 44th President is "genetically meaningless".[173]

Selected genealogical relationships

John McCain official portrait 2009.jpg
John McCain
According to William Reitwiesner, he is Obama's 22nd cousin two times removed.[174]
Wild Bill Hickok sepia.png
Bill Hickok
According to Barack Obama's family lore (and confirmed by the New England Historic Genealogical Society), the President and Hickok are sixth cousins, six-times removed.[175]
Robert Duvall 2 by David Shankbone.jpg
Robert Duvall
Goodnight helped inspire Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry to create a protagonist for his novel series Lonesome Dove: Woodrow Call. In Dove's television novela, Woodrow Call's partner is Gus McCrae, portrayed by Obama's eighth cousin, twice removed, actor Robert Duvall.[171]
James Madison.jpg
James Madison
It is claimed that Obama may also be distantly related to U.S. Presidents James Madison, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, U.S. Civil War General Robert E. Lee, and actor Brad Pitt.[176][dead link][177][178]

Charles Goodnight
According to Chicago Sun-Times reporter Scott Fornek, another Obama progenitor, Catherine Goodnight, was the grandniece of George Goodnight, who was in turn great-grandfather of famed cattleman Charles Goodnight.[171]

Harry S. Truman.jpg
Harry S. Truman
Actor Duvall is distant cousins with United States President Harry Truman, who is likewise a fourth cousin, four times removed, of Obama's.[171]

From left: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Joshua DuBois, and President Thomas S. Monson, the head of the LDS Church, look on as Obama observes a detail on his family pedigree chart being pointed out to him by Mormon apostle Dallin Oaks. The denomination has presented such compilations to several recent US presidents.

Five volumes of family genealogy (as compiled at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah), were presented by Mormon leaders to Obama in July 2009. In a statement, Obama said he was "looking forward to reading through the materials with my daughters. It's something our family will treasure for years to come."[179]

Moneygall, Ireland, resident Henry Healy, Barack Obama's eighth cousin, became known for having initiated a visit by the U.S. president in May 2011 to Healy's hometown.[180]


Links to entries in this article
Alphabetically arranged by:
 Key:  Underscored:  Now or once a member of Barack Obama's household.  Personal name bolded:Living.                      
A Abo Obama · Ann Dunham · Auma ObamaBBaker Ruth
 Barack Obama · Barack Obama, Sr. · Bernard Obama
C Capers Funnye · Charles Payne · Craig RobinsonDDunham Ann · Jonathan · Madelyn · Ralph · Stanley
 David Ndsandjo
FFunnye CapersG George Obama
 Fraser Robinson III · Fraser Robinson, Jr.H Habiba Akumu Obama · Hawa Auma Obama · Hussein Onyango Obama
 Jim Robinson · Jonathan Dunham
 Konrad Ng
 Lolo Soetoro
M Madelyn Dunham · Malia Obama · Malik Obama · Marian Robinson · Maya Soetoro‑Ng) · Michelle Obama
NNdesandjo David · Mark · RuthNNg Konrad · Maya
OObama Abo · Auma · Barack · Barack Sr. · Bernard · George · Habiba Akumu · Hawa Auma · Hussein Onyango · Kezia · Malia · Malik · Michelle · Omar Onyango · Sarah (aunt) · Sarah Onyango · Sasha · Sayid · YusufOOnyango Zeituni
Onyango Obama (grandfather) · Omar Obama / Onyango Obama (uncle)
P Payne Charles · MadelynRRobinson Craig · Fraser III · Fraser Jr. · Marian · Jim · Michelle
Ralph Dunham · Ruth Ndesandjo
SSoetoro /




WWolfley Robert
Sarah Obama (aunt) · Sarah Onyango  · Sasha Obama · Sayid Obama · Stanley DunhamY
  Yusuf Obama
 Zeituni Onyango

See also


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