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Michelle Obama's Multiracial Lineage is Topic of Lecture

New York Times’ writer Rachel Swarns to speak on her latest book

EVANSTON, Ill. --- New York Times reporter Rachel Swarns  -- author of “American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama” – will discuss her book on the ancestry of America’s first lady Thursday, Oct. 18, in a Crain Lecture at Northwestern University.

“Slaves, Slaveowners and the American Melange: The Story of Michelle Obama’s Ancestry” will be delivered at 4 p.m. in the McCormick Tribune Center Forum, 1870 Campus Drive, Evanston. Presented by the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, the lecture is free and open to the public.

Since joining The New York Times in 1995, Swarns has covered presidential campaigns, domestic policy, immigration and other topics, and has reported from Russia, Cuba and southern Africa. Swarns was covering Michelle Obama in 2009 when she learned that the first lady’s great-great-grandparents were a slave and a white slave owner.

Published in June 2012, “American Legacy” has been called “a microcosm of this country’s story,” “a meticulously researched and eloquently written real-life detective story” and a “tour-de-force of biological sleuthing” that “presents the complicated story of race in America through the prism of one family’s history.”

The Gertrude and G.D. Crain Jr. Lecture Series is supported by a gift from Medill alumnus Rance Crain and his wife, Merilee. The popular current affairs lecture series is named in honor of Crain’s parents, Gertrude and G.D. Crain Jr., the founders of Crain Communications.

For more information on the Oct. 18 lecture, contact Jasmine Rangel at or (847) 467-0726. For a complete schedule of Medill’s fall lectures, visit

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