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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/22/08

McCain & Obama's Ancestors Owned Slaves

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 A recently published news story highlights the lives of the "Black McCains," who are descendants of a slave, owned decades ago by Senator John McCain's great-great grandfather.  McCain is thus one of an unknown number of white Americans whose families benefited from the American slave trade and were able to pass certain aspects of the wealth received from that "peculiar institution" to generations of White McCains.   The Wall Street Journal article written by Douglas Blackmon is entitled "Two Families Named McCain."

Some Blacks may take this as added reason to not support McCain and as another sign of his inability to relate properly to those of darker skin tone but, that train of thought can only be entertained for a short time; at least until another truth is laid out side by side with it.  The other truth is that, according to reports published last year in The Baltimore Sun, Sen. Barack Obama's ancestors also have been found to have been slaveowners.  In "A New Twist to An Intriguing Family History,"  authors David Nitkin and Harry Merrit wrote about ancestors of Obama's White mother:

According to the research, one of Obama's great-great-great-great grandfathers, George Washington Overall, owned two slaves who were recorded in the 1850 census in Nelson County, Ky. The same records show that one of Obama's great-great-great-great-great-grandmothers, Mary Duvall, also owned two slaves.

Like many things in the current election campaign, there appears to be, many times, a tendency to make judgements and come to conclusions about one candidate or the other before they have complete and accurate background information.  Last year, it may have been that Obama critics pushed his family history in order to make him less desirable to Black voters.  That story faded over time and now, this month's story about the Black McCains may be a similar attempt to make him less desireable to Black voters.

Now that it is shown that both have ancestors who owned slaves, should we be equal and say both should be less desirable to voters?  Should we conclude that despite both campaigns running on the promise of "change" from politics-as-usual, that politics as usual has remained in play by both candidates and by supporters and opponents of both candidates? Or is this subject irrelevant to anything going on in this election season?


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Adeeba Folami is an award winning freelance journalist from Denver, Colorado. Her articles have appeared in the Denver Weekly News, African American Voice, Afro American Newspapers, Atlanta Daily World, Atlanta Voice, Birmingham Times, Dallas (more...)
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