A trove of letters from Barack Obama’s father discovered in Harlem have raised eyebrows, as none of them discuss either the birth of Barack Obama or his wedding to Obama’s mother.
According to The New York Times, the letters were discovered by an archivist at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. They tell the tale of Obama’s Kenyan father and his young life — but nothing about the child who would later become President of the United States of America.
Obama’s father, Barack Obama Sr., was described by The New York Times as “ambitious and impetuous, a 22-year-old clerk who could type 75 words a minute and translate English into Swahili.
“But he had no money for college,” they said. “So he pounded away on a typewriter in Nairobi, pleading for financial aid from universities and foundations across the Atlantic.”
“It has been my long cherished ambition to further my studies in America,” one of the letters reads.
Barack Obama Sr. would first attend the University of Hawaii, where he met Ann Dunham in 1960. The two would marry (even though Obama Sr. had a wife and child back in Kenya) and Barack Obama Jr. was born on Aug. 4, 1961 in Honolulu.
However, in the papers, no mention of his wife or young child was made — not even to scholarship officials, who would have been likely to give the elder Obama more money in light of his family situation.
In fact, on a scholarship form for graduate school, he left “marital status” and “dependents” blank.
In 1962, he went off to Harvard. While his family still went unmentioned (and had largely disintegrated by that time), he did talk about the cost of living in Boston.
“Rents are very high here,” he wrote. “Even a humburger (sic) is 50 cents here, a thing I never experienced before.”
Obama Sr. would later return to Kenya. He would only visit with his son once more, when he returned to the United States for a week in 1970. A prominent government economist in Kenya, he was blacklisted due to personality conflicts with Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta and disintegrated into drinking and poverty. He would die in an automobile accident in 1982 at age 46.
President Obama says he does not plan to read the letters until he leaves the White House.