The Shields Family: A Dichotomy of Race in US Society through Two Family Lines

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2021-11-15 20:28Z by Steven

The Shields Family: A Dichotomy of Race in US Society through Two Family Lines

Methods of Historical Research: Spring 2021
Texas A&M University, San Antonio
April 2021
18 pages

Joseph C. Platt

We spent the entirety of our Spring 2021 semester on Zoom, as our communities continued to struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic. With the help of TAMUSA librarian Deirdre McDonald, we added the students’ research papers to the Digital Commons collection on Black San Antonio history we created the previous year.

The history of the Shields families of North and South Carolina, beginning with William Bryant Shields Sr. and Moses Shields respectively, offer dichotomous responses to American racial hierarchies over the decades. Generations of race mixing within the Shields family has its roots in the sons of Irish immigrants pursuing relationships with enslaved women. The one-sided nature of the power dynamic in these relationships takes on different dimensions in the lives of the mixed-race children of William Bryant Shields Sr. and the lives of Moses’ son, Henry Wells Shields, Henry’s slave Melvinia Shields, and her children. Both family lines take efforts to repress their black ancestry, one primarily through dilution through marriage and the other through a refusal of formal acknowledgement, which ironically enabled some of their children to flourish in African American society. The permeability of race can be gleaned through these two Shields family lines both in how they went about repressing their ties to enslaved black women and how these culminated in the present-day Shields descendants, Roseanne Cash and Michelle Obama.

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Paintings Of Barack And Michelle Obama Unveiled At Portrait Gallery

Posted in Articles, Arts, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2018-02-12 19:38Z by Steven

Paintings Of Barack And Michelle Obama Unveiled At Portrait Gallery

National Public Radio
2018-02-12

Camila Domonoske


Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama stand next to their newly unveiled portraits during a ceremony Monday at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Brand new portraits of former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama — wearing matching calm, strong expressions — were revealed on Monday at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Kehinde Wiley painted Barack Obama sitting in a chair, elbows in his knees, leaning forward with an intense expression. The background, typical of a Wiley painting, is a riotous pattern of intense greens.

“Pretty sharp,” Obama said with a grin.

Amy Sherald, a Baltimore-based artist, painted Michelle Obama sitting in a floor-length gown, chin on her hand, looking directly at the viewer with a calm, level gaze.

The paintings, like the presidency they honor, are a historic first. Wiley and Sherald — both already famous for their portraits of black Americans — are the first black painters to receive a presidential portrait commission from the museum…

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Obama Leaves Office on High Note, But Public Has Mixed Views of Accomplishments

Posted in Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Reports, United States on 2016-12-16 15:38Z by Steven

Obama Leaves Office on High Note, But Public Has Mixed Views of Accomplishments

Pew Research Center
2016-12-14

72% have favorable opinion of Michelle Obama

With just a few weeks left in Barack Obama’s presidency, Americans’ early judgments of his place in history are more positive than negative. Obama is poised to leave office on a high note: Current assessments of both the president and the first lady are among the most favorable since they arrived in the White House.

At the same time, many express skepticism about whether Obama has been able to make progress on the major problems facing the nation, and whether his accomplishments will outweigh his failures. Democrats and Republicans have distinctly different views on Obama’s legacy, and these partisan divides are greater today than they have been for other recent presidents.

And when asked in an open-ended question what Obama will be most remembered for, more cite the Affordable Care Act – which faces an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Congress – than anything else…

…In the public’s view, Obama will be remembered more for the Affordable Care Act than other aspects of his presidency — including his election as the nation’s first black president. When asked what Obama will be most remembered for, 35% volunteer the 2010 health care law (or mention health care more generally) while 17% say it will be Obama’s election as the first black president.

Notably, mentions of Obama’s domestic policies, including health care and the economy, account for nearly half (49%) of all responses. By comparison, only 9% point to foreign policy, including just 2% who specifically mention the killing of Osama bin Laden and just 1% who cite U.S. military action against ISIS

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Obama praises wife Michelle’s curves as he sits down with prima ballerina Misty Copeland for interview about body image and growing up black in America

Posted in Articles, Arts, Barack Obama, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2016-04-01 17:51Z by Steven

Obama praises wife Michelle’s curves as he sits down with prima ballerina Misty Copeland for interview about body image and growing up black in America

The Daily Mail
London, United Kingdom
2016-03-14

  • The president and ballerina interviewed each other for TIME magazine
  • Copeland is the first ever African American to be named the principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater
  • Obama praised her for being a role model to his young daughters as she breaks barriers with her athletic body type
  • Copeland asked Obama for advice on how to stay humble and grounded when one reaches the top of their field

They have a shared history of multiracial families, being raised by single mothers and making it to the top position of their respective fields.

Now President Barack Obama and Prima Ballerina Misty Copeland are sharing a table, discussing their thoughts on women’s body image, affirmative action and growing up black in America.

Copeland, the first African American to be named the principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater, has been breaking barriers in the ballet world with her athletic body type.

And Obama revealed during the TIME interview that it was the likes of Copeland and wife Michelle that were acting as role models for his daughters as they learn the pressures women face today to ‘look a certain way’…

…Copeland said that growing up African American has definitely been a ‘huge obstacle’ but she credited for giving her ‘this fire’ that has made her one of the best in her field.

As both she and the president praised social media for inciting conversation on racism and discrimination in the country, Obama pointed out that more still had to be done…

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‘A black president, yay’: 106-year-old finally meets the Obamas, dances like a schoolgirl

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2016-03-31 23:50Z by Steven

‘A black president, yay’: 106-year-old finally meets the Obamas, dances like a schoolgirl

The Washington Post
2016-02-22

Michael E. Miller, Morning Mix Reporter

Virginia McLaurin’s life isn’t easy. Last winter, she battled bedbugs in her D.C. apartment. This year, snowstorm “Snowzilla” trapped her inside for several days.

She also happens to be almost 107 years old.

None of that mattered last week when the centenarian stepped — nay, scampered — into the White House to meet President Obama and the first lady.

With the leader of the free world in one hand and Michelle Obama in the other, McLaurin danced with sheer and utter joy, shaking her hips like a 16-year-old and flashing a smile as bright as the camera flashes going off all around her.

“She’s 106?” the president asked incredulously.

“No, you are not,” scoffed the first lady, before adding: “I want to be like you when I grow up.”

The uplifting moment was also heavy with history, though. After her super-senior shuffle, McLaurin suddenly got serious.

“I thought I would never live to get in the White House,” said McLaurin, who was born in 1909 in South Carolina, worked as a seamstress for most of her life and has been a widow for more than 70 years.

But her amazement went beyond merely making it inside the hallowed building. She was particularly bowled over to be meeting America’s first African American president…

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At Last …?: Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Race & History

Posted in Articles, Biography, Communications/Media Studies, History, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-19 02:43Z by Steven

At Last …?: Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Race & History

Dædalus
Winter 2011, Volume 140, Number 1
Posted Online 2011-03-09
pages 131-141
DOI: 10.1162/DAED_a_00065

Farah J. Griffin, William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies
Columbia University

In this essay, Griffin brings to the fore two extraordinary black women of our age: First Lady Michelle Obama and entertainment mogul Beyoncé Knowles. Both women signify change in race relations in America, yet both reveal that the history of racial inequality in this country is far from over. As an Ivy League-educated descendent of slaves, Michelle Obama is not just unfamiliar to the mainstream media and the Washington political scene; during the 2008 presidential campaign, she was vilified as angry and unpatriotic. Beyonce, who controls the direction of her career in a way that pioneering black women entertainers could not, has nonetheless styled herself in ways that recall the distinct racial history of the Creole South. Griffin considers how Michelle Obama’s and Beyonce’s use of their respective family histories and ancestry has bolstered or diminished their popular appeal.

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Michelle Obama: A Life

Posted in Barack Obama, Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2015-04-09 01:03Z by Steven

Michelle Obama: A Life

Knopf
2015-04-07
432 pages
6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-307-95882-2

Peter Slevin, Associate Professor of Journalism
Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

An inspiring story, richly detailed and written with élan, here is the first comprehensive account of the life and times of Michelle Obama, a woman of achievement and purpose—and the most unlikely first lady in modern American history. With disciplined reporting and a storyteller’s eye for revealing detail, Peter Slevin follows Michelle to the White House from her working-class childhood on Chicago’s largely segregated South Side.

The journey winds from the intricacies of her upbringing as the highly focused daughter of a gregarious city water-plant worker afflicted with multiple sclerosis to the tribulations she faces at Princeton University and Harvard Law School during the racially charged 1980s. And then returning to Chicago, where she works in an elite law firm and meets a law student from Hawaii named Barack Obama. Unsatisfied by corporate law, Michelle embarks on a search for meaningful work that takes her back to the community of her South Side youth, even as she struggles to find balance as a mother and a professional—while married to a man who wants to be president.

Slevin deftly explores the drama of Barack’s historic campaigns and the harsh glare faced by Michelle in a role both relentlessly public and not entirely of her choosing. He offers a fresh and compelling view of the White House years when Michelle Obama casts herself as mentor, teacher, champion of nutrition, supporter of military families, and fervent opponent of inequality.

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New Book Explores Role of Race for First Lady Michelle Obama

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-04-01 01:23Z by Steven

New Book Explores Role of Race for First Lady Michelle Obama

Time
2015-03-30

Maya Rhodan, Reporter

Author paints the First Lady as the President’s rock, notes the impact her background would have on her future as the nation’s first black First Lady

During her senior year at Princeton University, First Lady Michelle Obama couldn’t imagine she would live to see the election of the nation’s first African American, let alone be married to him. “To say that during her Princeton years she could not envision an African American president is like saying that the sun rises and sets every day,” writes Northwestern University Professor Peter Slevin in his upcoming biography, Michelle Obama: A Life

…Even in a short blurb about the Obamas’ budding romance, the author notes that Michelle’s mother Marian at one point worried that Barack’s biracial background would make navigating society’s prejudices difficult. In the end, though, she accepted the future President who she said “shared the values of [their] family.”…

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EXCLUSIVE: Michelle Obama’s mother was worried about her daughter marrying a biracial man

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-23 00:36Z by Steven

EXCLUSIVE: Michelle Obama’s mother was worried about her daughter marrying a biracial man

The New York Daily News
2015-03-18

Celeste Katz

Long before Michelle Obama became First Lady, her mother had misgivings about her marrying a young man named Barack Obama — because he was biracial.

In a Chicago TV interview that aired during Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate campaign — and newly resurrected by Michelle Obama biographer Peter Slevin in a book due out next monthMarion [Marian] Robinson confessed to being “a little bit” wary about her future son-in-law being the product of a white mom and black dad.

But it could’ve been worse, according to Robinson…

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Hispanic Journalists To Survey Race In Spanish-Language TV After Univision Incident

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-18 15:15Z by Steven

Hispanic Journalists To Survey Race In Spanish-Language TV After Univision Incident

The Huffington Post
2015-03-17

Roque Planas

Carolina Moreno

The National Hispanic Journalists Association applauded Univision’s decision to fire host Rodner Figueroa, after he compared first lady Michelle Obama to a character from “Planet of the Apes” during a segment of “El Gordo Y La Flaca” last week.

In a statement published to NAHJ’s website on Tuesday, the organization’s President Mekahlo Medina called Figueroa’s comments “racist” and said that Univision made “the right decision” by dismissing him.

“Univision, the fifth largest network in the U.S., took a stand against racism and we are all better for it,” Medina’s statement said. “But I keep wondering, what was Figueroa thinking when those words came out of his mouth? Why was it okay for him, at that moment, to compare the First Lady of the United States or any person to an ape? And why, still today, does he think that was not racist?”…

…Medina also highlighted the lack of racial diversity within both the Spanish-language and English-language news media, saying it helps perpetuate a “hierarchy of skin color and race.”

“How many dark-skin or afro-Latino anchors do you see on Spanish language newscasts?” Medina said in the statement. “How many indigenous Latinos do you see on any newscast, English or Spanish? There isn’t a single Latino/a anchoring an 11pm English language newscast in Los Angeles, despite the market being 53% Latino and overwhelmingly English speaking or bilingual.”…

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