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Barack Obama Sr.
Official documents catch Barack Obama in another apparent misrepresentation of his life story, this time challenging a claim made during his campaign that his father was part of a JFK-era airlift to bring Kenyan students to the U.S. to study in American universities.
WND research indicates Barack Obama Sr. was not brought to Hawaii in 1959 by any airlift of Kenyan students organized by baseball great Jackie Robinson, John F. Kennedy or the African-American Students Foundation, the AASF.
Nor was Barack Obama Sr. on any of the three subsequently chartered airplanes in what became known as the “second airlift” organized by Kenyan Luo politician Tom Mboya in 1960 after the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation contributed $100,000 to AASF.
Moreover, after a thorough search of the Jackie Robinson papers at the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress, WND can find no mention of Barack Obama Sr. in the files on deposit, either as an applicant or candidate for an airlift from Kenya to study in the U.S.
The manifest of the 81 students actually flown from Kenya Sept. 9, 1959, in a plane chartered by Jackie Robinson in conjunction with the AASF does not contain Barack Obama Sr.’s name. Robinson was assisted by singer Harry Belafonte and actor Sidney Poitier.
In Hawaii before first student airlift
By the time of the Sept. 9, 1959, airlift to New York City, Barack Obama Sr. was already in Honolulu, enrolled in classes as an undergraduate at the University of Hawaii.
WND previously published official affirmation from the University of Hawaii that Barack Obama Sr. was enrolled for the 1959 fall term.
The first article documenting Barack Obama Sr.’s presence in Hawaii was by journalist Shurei Hirozawa in the Honolulu Star Bulletin on Sept. 18, 1959, only nine days after the Jackie Robinson airlift.
The article suggested Barack Obama Sr., then fully settled in Hawaii and enrolled at the university, had used personal savings to pay his travel expenses from Kenya to Hawaii and tuition costs at the university.
“But the money [Barack Obama Sr.] saved will only stretch out for two semesters or less because of the high cost of living in Hawaii, he found out,” wrote Hirozawa. “He’ll work, he says, and possibly apply for a scholarship.”
Obama claims JFK responsible
Barack Obama Jr.’s claim that John F. Kennedy brought his father to the U.S. was made in a March 4, 2007 speech, from the pulpit of the historic Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church in Selma, Ala.
A few minutes into the speech, Obama began discussing the protests in Selma and Birmingham, Ala., that were instrumental to Martin Luther King building the civil rights movement in the 1960s.
Obama invented dialogue of Kennedy advisers, musing, “It worried the folks in the White House who said, ‘You know, we’re battling communism. How are we going to win hearts and minds all across the world if right here in our own country, John, we’re not observing the ideals set forth in our Constitution? We might be accused of being hypocrites.”
Obama continued: “This young man named Barack Obama got one of those tickets and came over to this country. He met this woman whose great-great-great-great-grandfather had owned slaves. But she had a good idea there was some craziness going on, because they looked at each other, and they decided that we know that (in) the world as it has been it might not be possible for us to get together and have a child.”
Kennedy, however, was not in the White House until Jan. 20, 1961, and he did not participate in the organization of the September 1959 airlift.
The historical record is further established by a background memorandum prepared by Sen. John Kennedy’s office in August 1960, while JFK was running for president.
The memo documents that JFK met with Mboya – but after the 1959 airlift had already occurred. Mboya met with JFK at Hyannis Port July 26, 1960, while Kennedy was running for president.
Mboya’s goal was to convince JFK to fund a second airlift of African students to the U.S.
The memo further documents that the State Department, despite intervention by Vice President Richard Nixon, had already turned down Mboya’s request for a second airlift to bring in 200 African students who had received scholarships from U.S. schools.
The Kennedy family, utilizing the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, decided to give Mboya a $100,000 donation to pay for the second airlift, in memory of JFK’s brother who was killed in World War II.
Knowing the Kennedy family was going to pay for the second airlift, Nixon prevailed on the State Department to reverse its earlier negative decision.
The African-American Students Foundation, however, decided to accept the Kennedy Foundation’s offer, preferring the willing generosity of the privately offered financing to the obvious hostility the State Department had initially expressed to the group’s request.
Mboya’s decision was a rebuke to Nixon, who had failed to deliver the State Department until after the Kennedy family had stepped forward with funding.
At the time, the State Department was turning down Mboya’s request in deference to the government of Jomo Kenyatta, which had argued, contrary to Mboya, that young, talented Kenyans should study closer to home and attend Makerere College in neighboring Uganda, instead of being trained in American universities.
Still, the myth of JFK’s role in bringing President Obama’s father to the U.S. persisted, reported again Jan. 10, 2008, by Washington-based reporter Elana Schor of London’s Guardian newspaper.
On March 30, 2008, Michael Dobbs published an article in the Washington Post, carefully entitled “Obama Overstates Kennedy’s Role in Helping His Father,” so as not to characterize candidate Obama’s Selma remarks as a lie.
“Obama spokesman Bill Burton acknowledged yesterday that the senator from Illinois had erred in crediting the Kennedy family with a role in his father’s arrival in the United States,” Dobbs wrote. “[Burton] said the Kennedy involvement in the Kenya student program apparently started 48 years ago, not 49 years ago as Obama has mistakenly suggested in the past.”
To correct the “overstatement,” Dobbs incorrectly reported that Barack Obama Sr. had come to the United States in the Sept. 9, 1959, initial airlift organized by Jackie Robinson without the financial support of the Kennedy family.
“There was enormous excitement when the Britannia aircraft took off for New York with the future Kenyan elite aboard,” Dobbs wrote of the first airlift. “After a few weeks of orientation, the students were dispatched to universities across the United States to study subjects that would help them govern Kenya after the departure of the British. Obama Sr. was interested in economics and was sent to Hawaii, where he met, and later married, a Kansas native named Ann Dunham.”
Further corroboration that Barack Obama Sr. was not on the first airlift is provided by Tom Shachtman in his 2009 book, “Airlift to America.”
On page 9 of the book, Shachtman confirms Mboya was unable to transport Barack Obama Sr. to the United States on any of the airlifts organized by Jackie Robinson or the AASF.
WND also has reported that contrary to the president’s statements, his father did not abandon the family in Hawaii when he accepted an invitation to study at Harvard in 1962.
Documents uncovered by WND also have raised questions about whether President Obama’s parents ever lived together as husband and wife, despite Obama’s repeated assertions his parents lived together in Hawaii during the first two years of his life.
WND has reported the only documentation for Ann Dunham’s marriage to Barack Obama Sr. comes from their divorce documents that list the marriage date as Feb. 2, 1961.
In actuality, it isn’t clear Obama’s parents were married, since official records have never been produced showing a legal ceremony took place. No wedding certificate or photograph of a ceremony for Dunham and Obama Sr. has ever been found or published.
WND previously reported Michelle Obama stated at a public event that her husband’s mother was “very young and very single” when she gave birth to the future U.S. president.