Why Are There Differing Narratives on Barack Obama Sr.’s Arrival in U.S.?

REQUESTS FOR MONEY BEGIN IN 1958, BUT WERE “INSPIRED” BY 1959 AIRLIFT?

by Sharon Rondeau

(Sep. 22, 2016) — Last week, while exploring the JFK presidential library website, The Post & Email noted that the name “Barack Obama Sr.” was included as one of many Kenyan students who came to the United States to study in apparent connection with Kennedy Foundation funding.

The first paragraph in the section titled “JFK and the Student Airlift” reads:

At a key point in the 1960 presidential campaign, a dynamic young leader from Kenya named Tom Mboya visited Senator John F. Kennedy. Mboya led a campaign of his own that would eventually bring hundreds of African students to America for higher education, including Barack Obama Sr., President Obama’s father. Kennedy’s decision to support the effort became an issue in the election and possibly a factor in his narrow victory.

In 1956, Mboya befriended businessman William X. Scheinman, who purchased a number of individual airplane tickets for promising East African students to study in the U.S.  In 1959, in conjunction with renowned baseball player Jackie Robinson, actor Sidney Poitier and singer Harry Belafonte, Mboya founded the African American Students Foundation (AASF), which chartered an entire airplane to bring East African students to the U.S. that year.

The following year, Mboya sought funding for a second flight from Kennedy and then-President Richard Nixon.  Both Nixons and Kennedy, who was running against him, approached the U.S. State Department for funding without result.  The Kennedy Foundation then privately donated $100,000 to the AASF, after which the U.S. State Department reconsidered and provided $100,000 for East African student airlifts.

Wikipedia’s entry for “Barack Obama Sr.” states that the Kenyan student was “selected for a special program to attend college in the United States, where he went to the University of Hawaii.

Speaking on the 2007 anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, AL in a contrived Southern accent, Barack Obama Sr. said that his father “got one of those tickets” from the Kennedy Foundation for his flight from Kenya to Hawaii.  At the same time, Obama claimed that in Selma, “they [his parents] got together, and Barack Obama Jr. was born.”

“So don’t tell me I don’t have a claim on Selma, AL,…” Obama drawled.  However, his White House biography states that he was born in Hawaii, and ABC News reports that “President Obama’s mother married his father at the ripe young age of 18, after the two met in a Russian-language class at the University of Hawaii.”

On April 27, 2011, the White House published what it said was a PDF of Obama’s original Hawaii birth certificate to prove that he was, in fact, born in Honolulu, HI on August 4, 1961 as he claimed.  Shortly after its release, however, the image was declared a forgery by a number of graphics experts.  Moreover, the results of a criminal investigation commissioned by Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio are that not only is the birth certificate image a “computer-generated forgery,” but Obama’s purported Selective Service registration form, produced as a paper document for FOIA requesters, is also fraudulent.

On March 30, 2008, The Washington Post reported of Obama’s remarks in Selma the previous year:

Addressing civil rights activists in Selma, Ala., a year ago, Sen. Barack Obama traced his “very existence” to the generosity of the Kennedy family, which he said paid for his Kenyan father to travel to America on a student scholarship and thus meet his Kansan mother…

It is a touching story — but the key details are either untrue or grossly oversimplified.

Contrary to Obama’s claims in speeches in January at American University and in Selma last year, the Kennedy family did not provide the funding for a September 1959 airlift of 81 Kenyan students to the United States that included Obama’s father. According to historical records and interviews with participants, the Kennedys were first approached for support for the program nearly a year later, in July 1960. The family responded with a $100,000 donation, most of which went to pay for a second airlift in September 1960…

It is commonly reported that Barack Obama Sr. began his studies at the University of Hawaii in 1959.

On June 18 of this year, The New York Times revealed letters said to have been typed by the elder Obama showing that he sought funding from private sources to attend college in the United States. The article, issued on Father’s Day this year and titled, “Words of Obama’s Father Still Waiting to Be Read by His Son,” contains a letter directed to the African American Institute seeking scholarship money dated October 20, 1958 and stamped “received” by the AAI on October 17, 1958.

In that letter, the elder Obama wrote, in part:

Because the Kennedy Library and The Washington Post appeared to us to be presenting the circumstances of Barack Obama Sr.’s arrival in the United States differently, The Post & Email contacted the JFK Library.

From:  Sharon Rondeau (editor@thepostemail.com)
Sent: Sat 9/17/16 9:38 PM
To: kennedy.library@nara.gov (kennedy.library@nara.gov)

Hello, I own and operate an online newspaper, The Post & Email.

I noticed that the JFK Library website states that Barack Hussein Obama Sr. was flown to the United States on one of the “Kennedy airlifts” which began in 1960:

https://jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-in-History/JFK-and-the-Student-Airlift.aspx

However, The Washington Post states that Obama Sr. arrived in the United States a year before the first Kennedy airlift took place:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/29/AR2008032902031.html

How can this discrepancy be explained?

Thank you.

Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
www.thepostemail.com
PO Box 113
Canterbury, CT 06331-0113

to which we received the following response:

Dear Ms. Rondeau,

Thank you for your email! We took another look at this JFK in History article and had trouble finding a passage that made the claim that Barack Obama Sr. was flown on a “Kennedy airlift.” The closest passages we could find to a statement like this are below, but they do not make the specific claim you referred to:

At a key point in the 1960 presidential campaign, a dynamic young leader from Kenya named Tom Mboya visited Senator John F. Kennedy. Mboya led a campaign of his own that would eventually bring hundreds of African students to America for higher education, including Barack Obama Sr., President Obama’s father. Kennedy’s decision to support the effort became an issue in the election and possibly a factor in his narrow victory. [page 1]

On September 11, 1959, eighty-one students from East Africa arrived in New York City on a chartered flight. …Based on the success of the 1959 program, AASF obtained new scholarships for approximately 250 additional students from Kenya and six other East African countries, but they still had to raise $90,000 to cover the cost of airfare. …With the future of the project in jeopardy, Tom Mboya returned to the United States. On July 26, he flew to Cape Cod for a meeting with Senator Kennedy. …JFK then recommended that the Kennedy Foundation contribute the entire amount needed for the 1960 airlift. [page 1]

Another Kenyan, a brilliant 23-year-old named Barack Obama, was inspired by the 1959 airlift and made his own way to the University of Hawaii. [page 3]

If we’ve missed the passage you’re referring to, please let us know; we’ll be happy to forward your email on to the department responsible for the JFK in History section of the website, so they can edit the article accordingly.

Best,
Reference Staff
Textual Archives
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

Noting that Obama Sr.’s search for financial aid, according to The New York Times, began in October 1958 and therefore could not have been “inspired by the 1959 airlift,” The Post & Email replied:

Thank you very much for your response.  At least to me, the paragraph you quoted on page 1, which is that which people see when first landing on that section of the website, could leave the reader with the impression that Barack Obama Sr. came on a flight subsequent to Mboya’s meeting with JFK, which would have been in 1960 or after.  While I did peruse other pages of the website that evening, I evidently missed page 3 where it clarifies that Barack Obama Sr. “made his own way to the University of Hawaii,” which The Washington Post reported was in 1959.

However, letters written as early as 1958 were said by The New York Times to have begun that quest:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/06/18/us/obamas-father-seeking-financial-aid.html

I realize this item is not necessarily within your purview in running the JFK Library.

Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
www.thepostemail.com
P.O. Box 113
Canterbury, CT  06331-0113

We then received the following response:

Thanks for getting back to us! We’re always glad to pass along suggestions for website content; please don’t hesitate to contact us with any additional questions.

Best,
Reference Staff
Textual Archives
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

3 Responses to "Why Are There Differing Narratives on Barack Obama Sr.’s Arrival in U.S.?"

  1. Frank E Wichern   Saturday, September 24, 2016 at 9:17 AM

    Voters in the USA have the Right to have a fully vetted eligible Candidate on Our Presidential Ballot.
    Who are the participants in The Grand Conspiracy to deny us that Right?
    Why are those of us demanding that Right falsly labeled Racist?
    What label should be placed upon the Millions of Conspirators responsible for denying US?
    Do you have a problem denying Rights to those who conspire to
    deny you your Rights?

  2. James Carter   Friday, September 23, 2016 at 8:35 AM

    “Obama will remain a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”
    I don’t believe it’s too much of a stretch to say that such is not within the eligibility criteria to serve as president.

  3. Gail Evoy   Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 6:35 PM

    Kudos to you Sharon for you investigative journalism. Many questions surrounding Obama’s life narrative(s) have yet to be adequately explained and, most likely, will not be in my lifetime. Obama will remain a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

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