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."
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." 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.
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. The selection was slow because Malia is allergic to animal dander; 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 shelteranimal. 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; the dog was named Bo by Malia and Sasha. The White House refers to Bo as the "First Dog". In 2013, they adopted a second Portuguese Water Dog named Sunny.
Barack Obama's maternal grandmother was born in 1922 and died on November 2, 2008. 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." According to Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father, 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." 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. In July 2012, Ancestry.com 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. Some of his descendants may have been free by the late 1600s, born free to white women and forming free African-American families long before the American Revolutionary War. Some were classified as white in records of the early 1700s.Y-DNA testing of Punch's male descendants, known by the surname Bunch (sometimes spelled Bunche), suggest that he was from Cameroon in West Africa.
Barack Obama embraces his great uncle Charles Payne, June 6, 2009
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. Obama has often described Payne's role in liberating Ohrdruf forced labor camp. There was brief media attention when Obama mistakenly identified the camp as Auschwitz during the campaign. In 2009, Payne spoke about this experience:
"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."
Payne appeared in the visitor's gallery at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, when his great-nephew was nominated for President. He was the assistant director of the University of Chicago's Library.
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.
His formal Javanese given name was Martodihardjo, born in Indonesia 1936, died 1987. The second husband of Ann Dunham (married on March 15, 1965) and stepfather to Barack Obama, 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).
Half-sister of Barack Obama, born August 15, 1970, in Jakarta, Indonesia. 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.
News sources reported in July 2012 that according to Ancestry.com, 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. With intermarriage, there were eventually both white and African-American lines of descent from Punch; some Bunch descendants were classified as white by the early 18th century. Other Bunch descendants intermarried as free people of color; Ralph Bunche, US minister to the United Nations, is thought by historian Paul Heinegg to have likely been a descendant of the Bunch family via South Carolina and Detroit, Michigan.
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.
Paternal grandfather to Barack Obama, he was born Onyango Obama (c. 1895–1979). (One source gives 1870–1975 as his dates of birth and death, possibly based on his tombstone in his home village. 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.) The Luo are given names related to the circumstances of their birth, and Onyango means "born in the early morning."
Onyango was the fifth son of his mother, Nyaoke, who was the first of the five wives of his father, Obama. 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." As a young man, Onyango learned to speak, read and write in English, the language of colonial administration.
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 by the British colonial administration. He was tortured to extract information about the growing insurgency seeking independence of Kenya. 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."
Onyango was permanently scarred, suffering 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.
According to his third wife, Sarah, Onyango had converted from tribal religion to Catholicism early in life. When he later converted to Islam, he took the first name Hussein. She said that he passed on the name of Hussein to his children, not the religion. Onyango is sometimes referred to as Mzee Hussein Onyango Obama. The word mzee is a Kenyan honorific meaning "elder".
Habiba Akumu Obama
Also known as Akumu Nyanjoga and Sje (c. 1918–2006). Sje was 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). Her father was named Njango, and she was born and raised in the Western Kenyan village of Karabondi.
In his memoir Dreams from My Father, Obama wrote that Akumu was miserable in her marriage and abandoned Onyango Obama and her children with him. She subsequently married again and moved to present-day Tanzania. Her name Akumu means "mysterious birth," related to her conception after her mother had given birth to another child, but before resumption of the woman's menses. Akumu 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.)
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 second wife, Habiba Akumu Obama. (She should not be confused with her stepmother Sarah Onyango Obama, also often called just Sarah Obama, the third wife of Onyango.)
Barack Obama's father (1934–1982), son of Onyango and second wife Habiba Akumu Obama. Educated in the US at the University of Hawai'i and Harvard University, he returned to Kenya where he became an economist with the government, serving in the ministries of transportation and finance. Obama Sr. was married a total of three times and fathered a daughter and at least four sons in addition to Barack II.
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 second wife Habiba Akumu Obama. She is the sole surviving full sibling of Barack Obama, Sr.
Sarah Onyango Obama
Third wife of Obama's paternal grandfather, born 1922. She is known for short as Sarah Obama; she is sometimes referred to as Sarah Ogwel, Sarah Hussein Obama, or Sarah Anyango Obama. She lives in Nyang'oma Kogelo village, 30 miles west of western Kenya's main town, Kisumu, on the edge of Lake Victoria. (She should not be confused with her stepdaughter of the same name, Sarah Obama, a daughter of Onyango's second wife Akumu.)
Although she is not a blood relation, Barack Obama calls her "Granny Sarah". Sarah, who speaks Luo and only a few words of English, communicates with President Obama through an interpreter.
During the US presidential 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." Sarah Obama is "a strong believer of the Islamic faith", in her words.
(Also known as Kezia Aoko and as "Grace," she was born c. 1940.) She is Barack Obama, Sr.'s first wife; she married him in Kenya in 1958 before he studied abroad in the United States. They had at least two children together: Abongo [Roy] and Auma; and she has also claimed Bernard and Abo Obama as sons by Barack Sr.
She lives in Bracknell, Berkshire, England. On March 22, 2009, Kezia Obama made a guest appearance on the British television show Chris Moyles' Quiz Night. Her sister, Jane, is the 'Auntie Jane' mentioned at the very start of Dreams from My Father; she telephoned Obama in the US in 1982 to tell him that his father had been killed in a car accident in Kenya.
Barack Obama's half-brother, also known as Abongo or Roy, was born c. March 1958, the son of Barack Obama, Sr., and his first wife, Kezia. Malik Obama was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. He earned a degree in accounting from the University of Nairobi. The half brothers met for the first time in 1985 when Barack flew from Chicago to Washington, D.C., to visit Malik. Malik and his half-brother Barack were best men at each other's weddings. Barack Obama brought his wife Michelle to Kenya three years later, and they met with Malik again while meeting many other relatives for the first time.
Although much of the Obama family has dispersed throughout Kenya and overseas, most, including Malik Obama, still consider 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". A frequent visitor to the United States, and a consultant in Washington, D.C., for several months each year, 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. He runs a small electronics shop a half-hour's drive outside of town.
During his brother's presidential campaign, Malik Obama was a spokesman for the extended Obama family in Kenya. He dealt with safety and privacy concerns arising from the increased attention from the press. He ran for governor of the Kenyan county of Siaya in 2013, and was defeated by a wide margin.
Barack Obama's half-sister, born c. 1960, to Kezia, his father's first wife. As of July 2008, she was a development worker in Kenya. She studied German at the University of Heidelberg from 1981 to 1987. After her graduation at 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.
Barack Obama's alleged half-brother, also known as Samson Obama, born 1968 to Kezia Obama. In Dreams from My Father, Obama wrote that his Obama relatives doubt that Abo and Bernard are the biological sons of Barack Obama, Sr. Abo is a mobile phone shop manager in Kenya.
Barack Obama's alleged half-brother, born 1970 to Kezia Obama. 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."
Ruth (Baker) Ndesandjo
Born Ruth Beatrice Baker in the United States around 1937, the daughter of Maurice Joseph Baker and Ida Baker of Newton, Massachusetts, who are of LithuanianJewish descent. Ruth Baker 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. 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. She followed Obama, Sr., back to Kenya five weeks later, and married him in Kenya in a civil ceremony on December 24, 1964. She later became a private kindergarten director in Kenya. She had two sons with Barack Obama, Sr.: Mark and David. She and Barack Sr. separated in 1971 and divorced about 1973. Since she remarried when her sons 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 Barack Obama, Sr. and his third wife Ruth Baker. Mark Ndesandjo runs an Internet company called WorldNexus that advises Chinese corporations how best to reach international customers. Mark was educated in the US, graduating from Brown University; he studied physics at Stanford University, and received an MBA from Emory University.
He has lived in Shenzhen, China, since 2002. Through his mother, he is Jewish. He is married to Liu Xuehua (also spelled Liu Zue Hua in some reports), a Chinese woman from Henan Province. He is an accomplished pianist and has performed in concert.
In 2009, Mark Ndesandjo published a semi-autobiographical novel, Nairobi to Shenzhen: A Novel of Love in the East. He published a memoir in 2013, entitled, Cultures: My Odyssey of Self-Discovery. In it, he accused their father Barack Sr. of abuse.
David Ndesandjo (c. 1967 – c. 1987)
Barack Obama's half-brother (also known as David Opiyo Obama), son of Barack Obama, Sr. and his third wife, Ruth Baker, an American. He died in a motorcycle accident several years after his father's death in a car accident.
George Hussein Onyango Obama
Youngest half-brother of Barack Obama, born c. 1982, son of Barack Obama, Sr. and Jael Otieno. (She has since moved to Atlanta, Georgia) as a full-time resident. 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. His mother took him to South Korea for two years while she was working there. Returning to Kenya, George Obama "slept rough for several years," until his aunt gave him a six-by-eight foot corrugated metal shack in the Nairobi slum of Huruma Flats.
As of August 2008, George Obama was studying to become a mechanic. He received little attention until featured in an article in the Italian-language edition of Vanity Fair in August 2008 during the US presidential campaign. This portrayed him as living in poverty, shame, and obscurity. 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 own poverty. In later interviews, George contradicted this account. 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."
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." He told The Telegraph that he was inspired by his half-brother. According to Time, George "has repeatedly denied ... that he feels abandoned by Obama."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." George Obama and the British journalist Damien Lewis published George's story in a 2011 book called Homeland. George also appeared in the 2012 film, 2016: Obama's America, which was widely considered an anti-Obama documentary.
Omar Okech Obama
At times using a variation of the name of his father, Onyango Obama, Omar Okech Obama is a half-uncle of Barack Obama. 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 president Tom Mboya's Airlift Africa project, to send promising Kenyan students to the US for education, particularly undergraduate and graduate school. 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. He later dropped out of school and changed his name to O. Onyango Obama. He has operated a liquor store in Framingham, where he resided as of March 2011. Barack Obama lived with Onyango in the 1980s while a student at Harvard Law School in Cambridge.
An immigration judge ruled on January 30, 2013, that Onyango Obama would receive a deportation hearing. 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. At the hearing, Immigration Judge Leonard I. Shapiro ruled that Onyango was eligible for permanent residence and that Onyango would receive a green card.
Half-aunt of Barack Obama, born May 29, 1952, in Kenya, Onyango is referred to as "Aunti Zeituni" in Obama's memoir Dreams from My Father. She entered the US in 2000 on a temporary visa with her son who was going to school; she applied in 2002 for political asylum due to unrest in Kenya and ethnic conflict. This was denied in 2004, but she 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 on April 8, 2014 from complications caused by cancer and respiratory problems.
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." Her family is of African-American heritage, descendants of Africans and Europeans of the colonial era and antebellum eras. Michelle Obama's family history traces from colonists and 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. 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.
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.
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 more 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. Carrie Nelson, Gabriel Robinson's daughter, now 80, is the oldest living Robinson and the keeper of family lore.
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. 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. 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. 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. Michelle Obama's distant ancestry also includes Irish and other European roots.
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. 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; she is the first live-in grandmother since Elivera M. Doud during the Eisenhower administration. Some media outlets have dubbed Robinson as the "First Granny". Marian takes Sasha and Malia to school daily and enjoys life in Washington.
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. Robinson was a pump worker at the City of Chicago water plant.
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.
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?).
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.
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. For example, George W. Bush, the 43rd U.S. president, is the eleventh cousin of Barack Obama.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".
According to William Addams Reitweisner, John Steinbeck, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Grapes of Wrath, is Obama's seventh cousin twice removed. Through the same common ancestor Obama is eighth cousin once removed with cartoonist Charles Addams. Through a different ancestor, actress Park Overall is Obama's sixth cousin once removed.
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.
^ abcdJacobs, Sally H. (2011). The other Barack: the bold and reckless life of President Obama's father. New York: PublicAffairs. pp. 160–161, 165, 172–174, 177, 187–190, 193–196, 199–202, 226–227, 230–231, 247. ISBN1-58648-793-0.