Fr0m the Associated Press:
But it was another incident, one to which he was a party, that had a most profound effect on the biracial teenager.
Toot had asked her husband for a ride to work because a particularly aggressive panhandler had accosted her for money the day before. When Stanley refused, his grandson couldn’t understand why.
“She’s been bothered by men before,” his grandfather explained, according to the memoir. “Before you came in, she told me the fella was black. That’s the real reason why she’s bothered.”
Obama described the words as “like a fist in my stomach.” It was a life-changing moment for him.
“Never had they given me reason to doubt their love; I doubted if they ever would,” he writes. “And yet I knew that men who might easily have been my brothers could still inspire their rawest fears.”
Obama referred to the incident again this spring when racially charged comments by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, forced him to make what many now consider a seminal speech on race relations in America.
“I can no more disown him,” he told an audience in Philadelphia in March, “than I can my white grandmother — a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.”
Charles Payne [retired assistant director of the U. of Chicago library] says his sister’s response to the reference was “like, ’Oh, well.”’ But his reaction was that Obama shouldn’t have shared that anecdote.
“She was really a very liberal person; liberal in politics and, I think, liberal in thinking,” says the brother, who has worked hard on his great-nephew’s campaign. “Frankly ... that story, when it was in the book, I felt didn’t need to be in there.”
It's bad enough that Obama wrote that in 1995. It's grotesque that Sen. Obama dragged up that absurd story about his dying grandmother in 2008 in order to justify his comparison of Rev. Wright to her.
A little background on Obama's maternal grandmother Madelyn's family.
Madelyn Payne came from a respectable, relatively well-off family with some brainpower. Her sister Margaret is a now-retired professor of statistics living in Chapel Hill, N.C. Her brother Charley was an engineer for awhile, then attended graduate school at the U. of Chicago, where he ended up working for the rest of his career, becoming the assistant director of the massive UC library, and played a role in introducing computer technology to libraries.
Obama claims that the Paynes ordered the University of Chicago's intellectually heavyweight Great Books series through the mail, perhaps the seed of the long U. of Chicago connection in the family, although that series didn't debut until 1952, a decade after his grandmother had given birth to his mother.
Uncle Charlie's U. of Chicago connection might have helped Madelyn's daughter Ann get accepted at age 15 by the U. of Chicago, which used to take smart 15-year-olds frequently, such as geneticist James D. Watson, political philosopher Allan Bloom, composer Philip Glass, and one of the Leopold & Loeb guys. (Ann eventually got her BA at the U. of Hawaii in math, then a Ph.D. in anthropology.)
Madelyn's big mistake in life was falling in love with an unsuitable salesman from a dubious background named Stan Dunham, much to her parents' regret. Madelyn paid for her rebellion with a lifetime of hard work. She didn't particularly want to be a feminist role model (her ambitions were more to be a genteel housewife with time for volunteer work and bridge), but her erratic husband didn't leave her much choice except to be one of the first women to climb the career ladder to executive rank in Honolulu's banking industry.
So, the Paynes were a family with a fair amount of analytical ability.