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Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - 6:36pm

Rex Monument Honors Obama Relative

Updated: 2 years ago.
A monument now stands to honor the Georgia roots of First Lady Michelle Obama. The unveiling took place in Rex about 30 minutes south of Atlanta. Clayton County Chairman Eldrin Bell stands with author and New York Times reporter Rachel L. Swarns, who uncovered the Obama connection.

A monument now stands to honor the Georgia roots of First Lady Michelle Obama. The unveiling took place in Rex about 30 minutes south of Atlanta. It took 21st century technology to solve a 19th century mystery.

The tall, stone marker commemorates Michelle Obama’s great-great-great-grandmother, Melvinia Shields. Shields was a slave on a 200 acre farm in Rex in the mid-1800’s.  At 15, she gave birth to a son, fathered by her white owner. Thus began the First Lady's bi-racial ancestry.

It took 3 years of investigating and the help of some DNA technology, but New York Times reporter Rachel Swarns uncovered the connection to Michelle Obama.  Some of the black and white descendants of the Shields family met for the first time at the event. The first lady has not publicly acknowledged the research. Clayton County officials hope the marker will generate tourism for the rural community.