Has America Already Had a Black President?

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Warren G. Harding

Some say Warren G. Harding, the 29th U.S. President, had black roots. Courtesy of the National Archives/Newsmakers hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the National Archives/Newsmakers

This fall, America could elect its first black president, but according to some, the country has already had a black commander-in-chief.

Over time, rumormongers and amateur historians have claimed that Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, Warren Harding, Dwight Eisenhower, Calvin Coolidge, and Abraham Lincoln had black lineage.

We take a look at why these claims exist and consider what this issue tells us about America's racial attitudes, culture, and history.

For more, Farai Chideya speaks with Beverly Gage, assistant professor of history at Yale University; and Edward Ball, author of several books, including Slaves in the Family and The Genetic Strand: Exploring A Family History Through DNA.



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