Tag Archives: Jacqueline Kennedy

Was Jackie Kennedy Really Our First “Black” First Lady?

If you go by the old Southern “One Drop Rule”, she just may have been!

Of course, if you applied the One Drop Rule, meaning even one Black ancestor or one drop of “Black Blood” makes you Black, there would be a lot of Klansmen committing suicide.  Not that that’s a bad thing….

Still, I think of Jackie as more like Ava Gardner in “Show Boat.”  Not really Black, but now being asked to play the part….

But it’s all open to debate.

Oh, by the way, this standard also means Anderson Cooper is Black.

Anyway, this is part of a fascinating article at AlterNet.org about unknown facts for Black History Month.

Jackie O, perhaps America’s most emulated and admired First Lady, descended from a family known as the van Salee’s, who were described as “mulatto” in the 17th century. This family traced its lineage in part to a Dutch mariner named Jan Jensen, who turned Turk (what some Europeans called “going native”), which was more popular than common history reveals.

It is widely believed Jensen fathered two children, Anthony and Abraham van Salee, by a Moorish concubine. Following a dispute with his white wife, Anthony van Salee was exiled to territory across the river, where he became Brooklyn’s first settler. Until a few decades ago, this property adjoining Coney Island was called Turk’s Island after Anthony van Salle — the term “Turk,” in his day being synonymous with Moor (North African). A descendant, John van Salee De Grasse, born in 1825, was the first black American formally educated as a doctor. When Jackie Kennedy was asked about her van Salee roots during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, she called her ancestors “Jewish.” Of course, her socialite father, born in 1891, was nicknamed “Black Jack” Bouvier for his swarthy complexion. In the 1960s, journalists described the First Lady’s features as “French,” earning her the cover page of countless magazines, including film and fan publications. Not only Kennedy Onassis, but well-borns Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Vanderbilt (and thus Anderson Cooper), are van Salee descendants.

MORE:   Michelle Obama Is Not Our First Black First Lady? 10 Fascinating Things You Didn’t Know About Black History | Alternet.

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