Barack Obama's Family Heritage

President Barack Obama
Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

President Barack Obama's complicated family history reflects the multicultural upbringing that is becoming more and more common in today's society. He has family members who are of African American, Kenyan, English, and Irish descent. Through his maternal grandfather, Stanley Armour Dunham, he is distantly related to six US presidents: James Madison, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.

Parents

President Obama's mother was born Stanley Ann Dunham, although she was simply known as Ann throughout most of her life. She attended college at the University of Hawaii, where she met President Obama's father. Ann Dunham eventually went on to earn a Ph.D. and worked as an anthropologist specializing in economic anthropology. She passed away in 1995 from complications of ovarian and uterine cancer.

Barack Obama, Sr. was born into a Muslim family from the Nyanza Province of Kenya. He was descended from a long line of tribal leaders from the Luo tribe. As a young man, he came to the University of Hawaii to earn a degree in economics.

Barack Obama, Sr. and Ann Dunham married in February 1961, and their son was born six months later. The marriage did not last long, however. The pair separated when President Obama was two years old and officially divorced in 1964. After that, President Obama saw his father only one more time during a trip to Hawaii in 1972. Then, Barack Obama, Sr. returned to Kenya and worked as a government economist. He died in 1982 from injuries sustained in an auto accident.

Maternal Grandparents

President Obama's maternal grandparents are central figures in his family history, since he was sent to live with them at the age of 10 after his mother became worried about his safety staying with his family in Indonesia.

Stanley Dunham, his maternal grandfather, served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army during World War II. After his military service, he managed a furniture store. Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham, his maternal grandmother, was a bank vice president. In media interviews, President Obama has often described the couple as practical people who instilled in him the value of hard work and self-discipline.

Paternal Grandparents

Hussein Onyango Obama had several wives. He had no children with his first wife, but his second wife Akuma gave birth to Sarah Obama, Barack Obama, Sr., and Auma Obama. However, Akuma left the family when the children were still young. Barack Obama, Sr. and his siblings were raised by Hussein Onyango Obama's third wife Sarah.

Siblings

President Obama has a half sister, Maya Soetoro, who is the daughter of his mother and her second husband, Lolo Soetoro. She was born August 15, 1970, in Jakarta, Indonesia. She is married to Konrad Ng, has two daughters, and has worked as a teacher in Hawaii. She is also the author of a children's book Ladder to the Moon, released in 2011.

On his father's side, President Obama has many half siblings:

  • Malik Obama, also known as Abongo or Roy, son of Barack Obama, Sr. with his first wife, Kezia
  • Auma Obama, daughter of Barack Obama, Sr. with his first wife, Kezia
  • Abo Obama, also known as Samson Obama, son of Barack Obama, Sr. with his first wife, Kezia
  • Bernard Obama, son of Barack Obama, Sr. with his first wife, Kezia
  • Mark Okoth Obama Ndesandjo, son of Ruth Nidesand and Barack Obama Sr.
  • David Ndesandjo, also known as David Opiyo Obama, son of Ruth Nidesand and Barack Obama Sr.
  • George Hussein Onyango Obama, son of Barack Obama Sr. and Jael

Wife and Children

President Obama met Michelle Lavaughn Robinson in the late 1980s, when they were both working at the prestigious Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin. They were married in 1992.

President Obama and his wife have two children. Malia Ann was born on July 4, 1998. Natasha, known as Sasha, was born on June 10, 2001.

Michelle's mother, Marian Robinson, currently lives with the family in the White House.

Additional Information

The multiple marriages and divorces in President Obama's family demonstrate how genealogy research can be a complicated task. However, you can learn more about President Obama's family heritage by reviewing articles posted on the following websites:

Understanding President Obama's unique family tree can help you gain new insight into his views on the issues that affect our country today.

Barack Obama's Family Heritage