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“American Tapestry” Unweaves the History of Americans of African Descent

“American Tapestry” Unweaves the History of Americans of African Descent

by Helmut Eder

“American Tapestry — The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama” — is not specifically a story about the ancestors of the First Lady. The subject matter cuts a wider swath than that. It is a story about understanding a particular aspect of slavery in the U.S. by visiting the subject through the interpersonal relationships among slaves and their owners. Based on two years of research, as well as DNA testing, Rachel Swarns created possible and even probable scenarios for Michelle Obama’s ancestors. In many cases, this is the only kind of information many descendants will ever have about their ancestors who were slaves.

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