Has America Already Had a Black President?

Warren G. Harding

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

itoggle 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.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.