Barack Obama Sr.
Two Hawaii newspaper articles published in June 1962 – the month Barack Obama Sr. left the islands to attend classes at Harvard University – make no reference to his wife, Ann Dunham, or his then 10-month-old son, Barack Obama Jr.
The articles found in the microfilm files in the Library of Congress newspaper collection in Washington, D.C., confirm questions about the veracity of the official Obama nativity story told in the president’s autobiography “Dreams from My Father.”
The official story is that Ann Dunham was in Hawaii, living with her husband, Barack Obama Sr., and their infant son, until Barack Obama Sr. left for Cambridge, Mass., in June 1962 to begin graduate studies at Harvard University.
However, as WND reported, documentary evidence from the University of Washington, and testimony, including interviews with Dunham’s high school friends and her babysitter in Seattle, indicate that she left Hawaii just 15 days after her son was born to begin extension classes in Seattle.
A June 22, 1962, farewell story in the Honolulu Advertiser by reporter John Griffin confirmed Barack Obama Sr. was living off-campus at an address not associated with any address known to be connected with Dunham or her parents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham
“An off-campus resident (St. Louis Heights) Obama thinks it’s a mistake to have the East-West students in dormitories,” Griffin wrote.
WND previously reported that in a May 1962 letter written to his patron Tom Mboya in Kenya, Obama listed his address as 1482 Alencastre Street in Honolulu, a street in the St. Louis Heights area of Honolulu adjoining the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
At the time Obama was living on Alencastre Street in Honolulu, Dunham living with her infant son in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle at 516 13th Avenue East, Apartment 2.
A screen capture of the Advertiser article shows the newspaper date at the top right of the page:
And a close-up of the article itself:
In the first paragraph, Griffin fixed the date of Obama’s departure: “The first African to graduate from the University of Hawaii leaves today with some parting advice for the East-West Center: Treat the visiting students more like adults, and don’t herd them in dormitories.”
The East-West Center was the institute at the University of Hawaii where Obama focused his studies.
The second paragraph noted that Obama, a 26-year old at the time the article was written, was a “straight-A student from Kenya” who was “heading for Harvard to work on his Ph.D. in economics.”
The bulk of the article is occupied by Obama’s views on Hawaii as a racial melting pot.
“Here [in Hawaii] there is, however, one thing other nations can learn from Hawaii,” Obama said. “Here in the government and elsewhere, all races work together toward the development of Hawaii. At home in Kenya, the Caucasians do not want to work as equals.”
Griffin’s text indicates that he personally interviewed Obama Sr. for the article.
“The thin, English-accented African has pleasant memories of Hawaii, but mixed views on the Islands as an East-West meeting ground,” Griffin wrote.
In what is obviously a personality feature story, Griffin makes no mention that Obama married a woman in Honolulu and had a baby while he was studying at the University of Hawaii. Nor is there indication any plans by Obama Sr. to rejoin anyone in Hawaii before he returned to Kenya.
Instead, Griffin appears to operate on the premise that Obama lives by himself.
In the final paragraph, Griffin notes that Obama, “who has been away from Kenya for seven years, said he plans to go home after finishing Harvard either to enter economic research, international trade or possibly politics.”
Previous accounts have suggested Obama Sr. left Kenya for Hawaii in 1959, which would make Griffin’s mention of seven years unexplained.
No family in another article
Another article, published two days before the Advertiser piece, appeared in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin June 20, 1962, under the headline “Kenya Student Wins Fellowship.”
A screen capture of the article shows the newspaper date at the top right:
And a close-up of the article itself:
The article explained that Obama Sr. had been “awarded a graduate faculty fellowship in economics at Harvard for a Ph.D. in economics.”
The second paragraph pointed out that Obama, “who began his studies at the university here three years ago, has been a straight ‘A’ student.”
“He plans to return to Africa and work in the economic department of underdeveloped areas and international trade at the planning and policy-making level,” the third paragraph noted
The fourth and last paragraph indicated that Obama planned to leave in the following week “for a tour of Mainland universities before entering Harvard in the fall.”
Obama Sr. had achieved notoriety in Hawaii when he arrived in 1959 to become the first African student to attend the University of Hawaii.
The article, which contained detailed information, most likely given to the newspaper by Obama himself, never mentions that the prominent African student had taken a wife in Hawaii by whom he had fathered a son.
Why didn’t dad mention us?
Barack Obama Jr. comments in “Dreams from My Father” with disappointment that his father never mentioned his mother or him in the Honolulu newspapers.
In a passage on pages 26-27, Obama says that when he was in high school he found, folded away, his birth certificate and old vaccination forms. He also said he discovered a clipping of an article published about his father in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
Most likely the article is the one presented above.
“No mention is made of my mother or me, and I’m left to wonder whether the omission was intentional on my father’s part, in anticipation of his long departure,” Obama wrote.
“Perhaps the reporter failed to ask personal questions, intimidated by my father’s imperious manner; or perhaps it was an editorial decision, not part of the simple story that they were looking for. I wonder too, whether the omission caused a fight between my parents.”
In the autobiography, Obama does not answer what is posed as a rhetorical question.
Newspaper reports at odds
As WND reported, photos of Barack Obama Sr. attending a University of Hawaii party in the early 1960s show him enjoying the company of fellow students without the presence of Dunham. Obama’s demeanor evident in the photographs suggests a familiarity with women that would give no indication he was engaged to be married or already wed.
In September 2009, WND reported that Obama repeated in an address televised to the nation’s schoolchildren the story he first told in “Dreams from My Father,” indicating the family was together until his father left for Harvard in June 1962.
“I get it. I know what it’s like,” Obama said in the televised speech. “My father left my family when I was 2 years old, and I was raised by a single mom who had to work and who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us the things that other kids had.”
In the autobiography, Obama related a story his mother allegedly told him: “When your father graduated from UH (University of Hawaii), he received two scholarship offers. One was to the New School, here in New York. The other one was to Harvard. The New School agreed to pay for everything – room and board, a job on campus, enough to support all three of us. Harvard just agreed to pay tuition. But Barack was such a stubborn bastard, he had to go to Harvard. How could I refuse the best education? He told me. That’s all he could think about, proving that he was the best.”
There is no indication that Dunham ever returned to Hawaii to visit Obama Sr. while he continued his studies at the University of Hawaii in her absence or that Obama Sr. ever traveled from Hawaii to visit Dunham while she lived in Seattle.
There also is no evidence Obama Sr. ever returned to Hawaii to visit his wife and son during his time of study at Harvard.