In a commencement address on Friday at City College in New York City, First Lady Michelle Obama raised more than a few eyebrows when she referred to the White House as “a house that was built by slaves”.
Though she did not mention Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, by name, she made several comments that were apparently aimed directly at the candidate who has made a name for himself by taking a hard-line against illegal immigration.
“Here in America, we don’t give in to our fears,” the First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS) said. “We don’t build up walls to keep people out because we know that our greatness has always depended on contributions from people who were born elsewhere but sought out this country and made it their home.”
“It’s the story that I witness every single day when I wake up in a house that was built by slaves, and I watch my daughters — two beautiful, black young women — head off to school, waving goodbye to their father, the president of the United States, the son of a man from Kenya who came here to America for the same reasons as many of you: to get an education and improve his prospects in life,” Michelle Obama said.
Her point is historically accurate. When construction on the nation’s capital began in 1792, attempts to recruit trained artisans from Europe were unsuccessful. Washington D.C. lies between Virginia and Maryland, two states in which it was legal to own slaves so the work force included local white laborers, Scottish masons, and free and enslaved blacks. The government did not own the slaves but paid their wages to their owners.
Being the first bi-racial president in American history, the issue of slavery and slave ownership has been part of the narrative surrounding the Obama presidency. In a speech during his first primary, Obama stated he was “married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slave owners.” Michelle Obama discovered in 2008 that one of her great-great grandfathers was a slave who worked on a rice plantation in South Carolina. An article in the Baltimore Sun cited an ancestry report compiled by William Addams Reitwiesner, who works at the Library of Congress and practices genealogy in his spare time. He claims that on Obama’s mother’s side of the family, his 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.
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Source: Israel in the News