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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke January 10, 2022

No, Frank Marshall Davis wasn’t Barack Obama’s father

If Your Time is short

  • Former President Barack Obama’s father was also named Barack Obama, and there are documents to support this. 
 

PolitiFact has a deep bench of stories debunking claims that former President Barack Obama isn’t who he says he is. Now, a claim is again spreading on social media that Obama’s father isn’t who the ex-president says he is. 

"Barack Obama’s real father is Communist Party propagandist Frank Marshall Davis," one Jan. 9 post says

But that’s wrong, and this post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Obama’s father shared his name: Barack Hussein Obama. 

He’s listed as Obama’s father on Obama’s birth certificate. He was also named in two birth announcements submitted to newspapers by the health department in Hawaii, where Obama was born. 

Will Hoover, who wrote a 2008 story for the Honolulu Advertiser about Obama’s childhood there, has told PolitiFact that he reviewed microfilm archives and found an announcement for Obama in the Honolulu Advertiser on Aug. 13, 1961, and another in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin the next day. They both said the same thing: "Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, 6085 Kalanianaole Highway, son, Aug. 4."

"Take a second and think about that," PolitiFact reported in 2009. "In order to phony those notices up, it would have required the complicity of the state Health Department and two independent newspapers — on the off chance this unnamed child might want to one day be president of the United States."

In 1995, Obama published a memoir, "Dreams From My Father," and in 2011, biographer Sally H. Jacobs wrote about Obama’s father in her book "The Other Barack: The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama’s Father." 

Jacobs spoke with the radio show "Fresh Air" that year about her book. After Obama was born, his mother, Ann Dunham, moved with him to Seattle while Obama’s father stayed in Hawaii before leaving a year later to attend Harvard University. In 1964, Dunham filed for divorce, and Obama’s father returned to his native Kenya.

Obama’s father visited him briefly in Hawaii in 1971 and then, in 1982, died from injuries sustained in a car crash. 

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The falsehood that Obama is actually the son of Communist activist Frank Marshall Davis dates back to before the 2012 presidential election. And in 2015, the Washington Post fact-checked another claim that Davis was Obama’s "Communist mentor." The Post reported that Obama mentions Davis in his memoir as someone who influenced his understanding of his Black identity, "but there is no evidence that Obama was ‘raised’ by Davis, or that Davis remained a close Communist mentor who advised him throughout his life." 

We rate the claim that Davis is Obama’s father Pants on Fire!

 

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No, Frank Marshall Davis wasn’t Barack Obama’s father

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