Posted on | April 18, 2012 | 38 Comments
Buddy Holly died in a plane crash, Fidel Castro staged a communist revolution in Cuba, Marilyn Monroe starred in Some Like it Hot, and the British embassy was worried about Kenyan students:
A memo from a British diplomat in Washington to Whitehall — released today by the National Archives in West London — sets out their concerns about the young Kenyans.
Dated September 1, 1959, it says: ‘I have discussed with the State Department. They are as disturbed about these developments as we are. They point out that Kenya students have a bad reputation over here for falling into the wrong hands and for becoming both anti-American and anti-white.’
In one of the Foreign Office files, the future president’s father appears on a list of Kenyan students as ‘OBAMA, Barack H’ — they shared the same name.
At the age of 23, he enrolled at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu to study economics with classmates including Ann Dunham, a 17-year-old white American from Kansas. The couple had a short marriage that led to the birth in 1961 of the future president, Barack Obama II.
Mr Obama Snr was among 100 or so Kenyan students brought to America by the African American Students Foundation.
U.S. and British officials were deeply suspicious of this outfit, observing that the AASF — though backed by singer Harry Belafonte and actor Sidney Poitier — had links to a Kenyan nationalist leader.
‘The motives behind this enterprise, therefore, seem more political than educational,’ warned a letter from the British Embassy in Washington.
It added: ‘The arrival here of these students, many of them of indifferent academic calibre and ill-prepared for the venture, is likely to give rise to difficult problems.’
Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.
UPDATE: Like an exclamation point: Dick Clark just died.