Obama’s father was born in Kenya and his mother in Kansas, so no one ever thought that he had any genetic ties to American slavery. But the people at ancestry.com did some research over two years which revealed that not only did he have a slave ancestor, but the very first black slave in America may be that ancestor. First, they performed DNA tests and found that his mother’s lineage contains DNA that indicates African origin. Then they looked through property records and traced her ancestry to the mulatto Bunch family in Virginia in the 1600s.
The Bunches were not white at first, but were free because of an interracial relationship between a free white woman and John Punch, an African indentured servant who eventually became enslaved for life — the first person this happened to, in America. The Bunches of Virginia, from which Obama’s mother was descended, continued to marry white people, and eventually looked completely white. Her ancestors moved to Tennessee, then to Kansas in 1834, where she was eventually born some hundred years later. She died without knowing she had a black ancestor, and in fact, one of her other ancestors fought for the South in the Civil War.
The connection between John Punch and Barrack Obama is not iron-clad, because some records have been lost over the centuries. But there is enough evidence to make it very likely that the first black president comes from the first black slave, through his white ancestors.
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