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Not the first black president?

And I’m not talking about Bill Clinton — we’re talking Harding, as in Teapot Dome Warren G. Harding, who served as the 29th president (March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923). This is all pretty funny, and hasn’t been discussed very widely in the MSM. We’ve been making the assumption that Barack Obama will be the first black president.

There have been always been rumors along the way that Warren G. Harding was of black heritage, albeit passing, of course. In fact, the subject came up in the NYT last April.

Will Americans vote for a black president? If the notorious historian William Estabrook Chancellor was right, we already did. In the early 1920s, Chancellor helped assemble a controversial biographical portrait accusing President Warren Harding of covering up his family’s “colored” past. According to the family tree Chancellor created, Harding was actually the great-grandson of a black woman. Under the one-drop rule of American race relations, Chancellor claimed, the country had inadvertently elected its “first Negro president.”

…As recently as 2005, a Michigan schoolteacher named Marsha Stewart issued her own claim to Harding ancestry. “While growing up,” she wrote, “we were never allowed to talk about the relationship to a U.S. president outside family gatherings because we were ‘colored’ and Warren was ‘passing.’ “

The Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy’s Martin Eisenstadt says much the same about the matter and raises the bar by quoting a Harding descendant.

I spent the holidays with our benefactor, Clifford Harding III, and he authorized me to spread what until now was mostly a family secret. He said, “The family is ready to come clean about how proud we’ve always been of our great uncle’s contribution to the mosaic of American diversity.”  As President Harding himself once said, “America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration.”

True or not, the fact is Harding didn’t run as a black man, a man of black heritage or anything of the sort because that would have been political suicide. But it does bring up the issue of passing and how the social construct that is race is lunacy on so many levels., and

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding