Michelle Obama’s Roots: Proving Your Freedom (Over and Over Again)

Posted by admin on Feb 26, 2010

More about Michelle Obama by Megan Smolenyak:

Not long ago, I wrote about Michelle Obama’s family in Henry County, Virginia and shared this document in which her Jumper ancestors indicated that they had been free before Emancipation. In the columns where others listed the names of their last owner, Peter and Dolly Jumper simply said “free.”

While this certainly made the Jumpers a distinct minority, many aren’t aware that approximately ten percent of African Americans were free prior to Emancipation. This is an important reality for anyone interested in African American genealogy because those of us living today had quite a few ancestors back in the 1860s. Depending on your age and assuming generations of roughly 25 years, you might have had approximately 16, 32 or 64 direct line forebears at the time (two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, etc.). And with so many branches in your family tree, there’s a decent chance that at least one of them was free.

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