Rachel L. Swarns has been a correspondent for the New York Times since 1995. She has written about domestic policy and national politics, reporting on immigration, the presidential campaigns of 2004 and 2008 and First Lady Michelle Obama. She has been a foreign correspondent for the Times, reporting from Russia, Cuba and Southern Africa, where she served as the Johannesburg bureau chief. She has also worked for the Miami Herald, where she covered the L.A. riots and the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, and at the St. Petersburg Times.
American Tapestry illuminates the lives of the first lady’s forbears who fought in the Civil War, escaped from bondage and often straddled the color line that divided blacks and whites. They survived slavery, endured Jim Crow and joined the Great Migration. It is an intimate family history, but it is also the collective chronicle of our changing nation, a nation in which racial intermingling lingers in the bloodlines of countless Americans and slavery was the crucible through which many family lines were forged.
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