Aug 21, 2017

Memorial for Melvinia Shields (1844-1938) Shows How Far the United States Has Come

michelle obama great grandmother tombstone epitaph Memorial for Melvinia Shields (1844 1938) Shows How Far the United States Has Come

Photograph by Ginny/Find A Grave


A powerful memorial in Clayton County, Georgia’s picturesque village of Rex was unveiled in 2015 in honour of Melvinia Shields (1844-1938). According to Find A Grave:


Interest began in the fall of 2009 when an article was published in the New York Times revealing genealogical research that linked a young slave girl, Melvinia, as the great-great-great grandmother of Michelle Obama, with the small farm on the outskirts of a village that would later be known as Rex, Georgia.


The discovery was first uncovered by Megan Smolenyak and The New York Times. The poignant and painful story is a reminder of just how complex and interconnected America’s history is, as well as a powerful symbol for black advancement in five generations. If you have time and want to learn more, be sure to read the New York Times piece: In First Lady’s Roots, a Complex Path From Slavery