Barack Obama is descended from the first person ever enslaved in the American colonies–an indentured servant who attempted to escape his indenture and was then enslaved for life. Not only that, this ancestor is distaff–on his mother’s side–the white side of his family.
Yahoo News reports that researchers have tied Obama to through ancestors of his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, to John Punch, an African who is the first documented slave in the colony of Virginia.
Yahoo quotes ancestry.com genealogist Joseph Shumway as saying, "Two of the most historically significant African Americans in the history of our country are amazingly directly related." Obama had always assumed that the genes from the "black" side of his family came from his Kenyan father, Barack Hussein Obama.
Punch was Obama’s 11th great-grandfather. They share a common DNA marker that shows an African ancestor. Genealogists used DNA analysis to tie relatives of Dunham to Punch, who had children with a white woman. Their descendants were free landowners, who later "passed" as white in Virginia.
So in a way, when his white mother married a black African, she was being true to her ancestry. Researchers previously linked Obama to ancestors in Ireland and Germany on his mother’s side.