Barack Obama is one of the most influential African Americans of this century. He was The first African American to hold the office of Presidency of the United States of America. Barack Obama said “Change will not come if we wait for some their person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek” (Austin, 2017) Barack Hussein Obama, Jr was born August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii to a white American woman, Ann Dunham and a Kenyan black father Barack Obama, Sr. His parents met while studying at Honolulu University. He was the first President to be born outside the continental United States. His parents divorced when he was two years old and his father moved back to Kenya. His mother remarried and moved to Indonesia. She remarried an Indonesian man named Lolo Soetoro. He decided to live with his mothers’ parents in Hawaii in 1971 and attend school. It was in an elite private school that he first understood the tensions in a mixed race background. (Editorial Staff, 2019) Obama graduated high school with honors and attended Occidental College in 1979. After two years, he transferred to Columbia University in New York City, NY where he majored in political science. He worked for five years before attending Harvard University Law School. In 1991, he graduated with a law degree magna cum laude.
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While at Harvard he was the first ever African- American president of the Harvard Law Review. After law school, he moved to Chicago and taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992-2004. While he taught, he directed the Illinois’ Project Vote in 1992 to get voters to register. (Wallenfeldt, 2020) In 1993, he worked as director of the Developing Communities Project. He joined a Chicago Law firm that specialized in civil rights litigation.
Barack Obama was a distinguished author as well. In 1995, he published an autobiography titles “Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance” which dealt with the racial tensions he experienced in high school. Other works written by him were “The Audacity of Hope”, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughter” and “Change We Can Believe In”. He Also won two Grammys for Best Spoken Word Album of the Year. In 2006 he won for his reading of “Dreams from my Father’ and in 2008 for the audio version of “Audacity of Hope”. (Editorial Staff, 2019)
Barack married Michelle LA Vaughn Robinson, another Harvard Law graduate. They met while he was a summer associate at the law firm she worked at. They married on October 3,1992. They have two daughters, Malia Ann and Sasha. In 1996 he was elected to the Illinois State Senate where he represented the South Side neighborhoods of Chicago. He served until 2005. He was elected to the United States Senate and sworn in January 2005.
In February 2007 he announced his candidacy for President. In August 2008 he picked Senator Joseph Biden, a Democrat from Delaware as his vice-presidential running mate. He was the first African American in US History to lead a major political party. On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama was elected as the 44th President of the United States. The first African American as well. On January 20, 2009, Obama as sworn in as the 44th president of the Unites States. He was 47 years old. His inauguration was the largest attendance ever seen with more than two million people.
While in office he was named Time Magazines “Person of the Year” for 2008 and again in 2012. (Von Drehle, 2008). He said, “Evil does exist in the world” and “there will be times when nations-acting individually or in concert- will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified”. (Obama, 2008) In his first term as president, he expanded healthcare, cut taxes for the middle class, overhauled foreign policy and many other issues. He was the first president to endorse same sex marriage and visit Cuba in 88 years. He also received the Nobel Peace Prize on October 9, 2009 for his efforts in international peace.
Obama ran for his second term against Mitt Romney and won in 2012. Before his second term, he withdrew troops from Iraq which eventually ended the war. The country was hoping that Obama would help race relations in the country. He did many great things for the country.
After eight years in the White House, Barack Obama and his family returned to private life in 2017 in Washington, DC. He has remained low key and living his best life with his family. Traveling, reading, writing, being a Dad and husband.
Barack Obama brought many needed changes to the office of Presidency by being the first African American president. Some could say he is paving the way for other people of color to follow in his footsteps. He has faced adversity and stood tall. He has become a role model and Hero to many. Especially minorities. “Obama cast himself as the country’s secular minister as much as its commander-in-chief, someone who understood the moral core of the nation and felt compelled to insist that we live up to it” (Debenedetti, 2018)
- Austin, Shelbi “Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Barack Obama”. US News, 8 November 2017. www.usnews.com/news/obama/articles/2007/01/16/ten-things -you-didn’t-know-about-Barack Obama
- Wallenfeldt, Jeff and Mendell, David. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. www.britannica.com/biography/Barack-Obama Britannica Inc., 2019 November 27.
- Rodrigues, James. “The Obama years. Timeline of a presidency” The Guardian, 1 January 2017. www.theguardian.com
- Crump, Jennifer. 44 Facts about the 44th President Barack Obama. 5 October 2017. www.factinate.com/people/44-facts-44th-president-barack-obama.com
- Debenedetti, Gabriel “Where is Barack Obama”. New York Magazine 25 June 2018: 1-3.
- Editorial Staff. 53 Barack Obama Facts: Interesting Facts about Barack Obama. 10 May 2019. www.the factfile.org/barack-obama-facts.com
- Von Drehle, David. Time Magazine. 17 December 2008. www.timemagazine.com
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