About the Roma: Which American President Has Romani Roots?

Image courtesy of BeeMedia

For a list of famous Romani around the world, visit http://bit.ly/7rZwOt. You’ll find authors, musicians, teachers, athletes, even presidents! I’ve selected a few from that list that may surprise you.

Yul Brynner – An undoubtedly controversial person, his origins have been a mystery for many. He is believed to have had both Romany and Jewish ancestry, by his mother Marousia Blagovidova, whose father was a Russian Jew and her mother a Russian Gypsy. It was among Roma that he began his adventurous life, playing guitar in Romany circles and working as a trapezist in circus. He was elected Honorary President of the Roma, an office that he kept until his death.

Sir Charles Chaplin  – Born Charles Spencer Chaplin, his parents were music hall artists. It is usually assumed that he was Jewish, an assertion that seems not to be true. He felt strongly identified with the Jews and manifested his defense of the Jewish people, but there is not any documented source to assert with certainty if he had Jewish ancestry. On the other side, it is known that his mother, Hannah Smith, was Romanichel, and his father probably was too. He was knighted in 1975.

Sir Michael Caine: Born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, it was a tradition of his Romanichel family to call Maurice the firstborn son. As an actor, he was awarded twice with the Oscar (1986 and 1999). He was knighted in the year 2000 for his contribution to performing arts.

And finally…guess which US President claims Romani roots?

Answer: Bill Clinton


6 thoughts on “About the Roma: Which American President Has Romani Roots?

  1. I have just started reading Into the Free(downloaded from Amazon), yesterday. My words can hardly describe the emotional connection I feel to the characters and places in this book. You are a magical, special writer! I have always had a strong interest in Romani People and Culture. They keep coming into my life in one way or another, starting with the peddlers and tinkers who came to my Grandmother’s back door. I knew nothing about the book except it was free, and having just purchased a Kindle, was excited to get a free book. What a treasure I found! Thank you and your publisher for sharing your wonderful talent in this generous way.
    Peace and Blessings,

    Ruie McClure

  2. I specialize in the history of American immigration, as it pertains to the Colonies. Sometimes I come across something and feel compelled to throw in my two cents.

    Around 1750 there were only 250,000 “Europeans” in the Colonies. Roughly 40% of those “Europeans” had been labeled “Gypsy” by the British.

    This is a huge part of American history that just isn’t talked about. Presidents having “Romani” roots is not unusual. From George Bush, to Bill Clinton, to Harrison, to Adams, to Lincoln.

    They all have Romani roots.

    Simply because ALL early Americans have these ties. These were the people that made up early America.

    Either the English Romanichels, or the Welsh Kale, the various Scotish families, the German Sinti, the basque Romani…on and on and on.

    These are the kinds of people that Cromwellian politics targeted. And these were the kinds of people that were “sent to the plantations.”

    We’ve chose to to label them—Huguenots, Quakers, Puritans, German-Palatinate, Scot-Irish, etc. It’s unfortunate. None of the labels we use mean anything. Puritan? German? These descriptions are, well, they aren’t descriptions.

    I can’t tell you how much time I spend trying to explain to American families, with ties to the Revolutionary War (or the Mayflower), why they have genetic DNA markers that show “India” or “South Asian” or “Romanian.”

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