Melvinia Shields was born a slave. Her great-great-great granddaughter became the First Lady of the United States.
Director Ava Duvernay celebrated Michelle Obama and her ancestors in a recent tweet that also stands as a tribute to the journey of many African American families.
The A Wrinkle In Time director posted a photo of the former First Lady’s great-great-great grandmother’s memorial in Rex, GA. Melvinia Shields was a slave, and it was only five generations later that her direct descendant would become the nation’s first black First Lady.
“Become your ancestor’s wildest dream,” Duvernay captioned the photo.
And it is the memorial’s message that had many on Twitter in their feelings: “This memorial is dedicated to the remarkable life of Melvinia ‘Mattie’ Shields McGruder.”
It continued: “She was born a slave in South Carolina in 1844. At age 6, she was brought to the nearby Shields Farm in what is now Rex, Clayton County, Georgia. Her family would endure a five-generation journey that began in oppression and would lead her descendant to become First Lady of the United States of America Michelle Obama.”
“Theirs is a story of hope,” it finishes.
Many on Twitter found the tweet, and the memorial, profound:
You can read more about Obama’s complex history in Rachel Swarns’ book “American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial ancestors of Michelle Obama.”
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