It was an incident during his teenage years that became one of Obama's most vivid memories of Toot. She had been aggressively panhandled by a man and she wanted her husband to take her to work. When Obama asked why, his grandfather said Madelyn Dunham was bothered because the panhandler was black.
The words hit the biracial Obama "like a fist in my stomach," he wrote later. He was sure his grandparents loved him deeply. "And yet," he added, "I knew that men who might easily have been my brothers could still inspire their rawest fears."
Obama referred to the incident again when he addressed race in a speech in March during a controversy over his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. "I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother," he said.
Dunham was "a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world but who once confessed her fear of black men who passed her on the street."