Barack Hussein Obama Jr. (1961 - Current) The 44th President of the United States, launched himself into the history books as the first black President. From his early life, few people would have foreseen his future leadership and vision; however, his early life helped shape his political career.
Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961 at the Kapi'olani Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. In Swahili, his name "Barack" means "one who is blessed." He was the first President to be born in the State of Hawaii.
He was born to Stanley (Ann) Dunham, an American, and Barack Obama, Sr. , from Kenya.
Stanley Ann Dunham was born in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on November 29, 1942. She was named after her father, Stanley, but at 18, she began going by her middle name, Ann.
In 1960, when she turned 18 and had graduated from high school, Ann and her parents moved to Hawaii because her parents wanted to pursue business ventures in the new state that had just been admitted to the Union.
Ann started taking classes at the University of Hawaii in Manoa. She met Barack Obama, Sr. when both of them had enrolled in a course teaching the Russian language, and they started dating. Barack Sr. was the first African student ever enrolled in the university.
They married in Maui on February 2, 1961 in spite of arguments from Ann's parents, and Barack Jr. was born six months later. Ann took Barack Jr. with her to attend the University of Washington in Seattle, where they remained for a year.
Unfortunately, young Barack Jr. would see his father very little throughout his childhood. While Barack Jr. and his mother were in Seattle, Barack Sr. finished his undergraduate studies and went on to attend graduate school at Harvard on the east coast to study economics.
Barack Sr. only visited his son once, in 1971 when Barack Jr. was 10 years old. Unfortunately, the death of Barack Sr. in a car accident in 1982 precluded the possibility that he and Barack Jr. would ever spend more time together as father and son.
Obama’s mother returned to Hawaii to raise her young son and return to college. Her parents helped take care of Barack Jr. as she attended school in Hawaii. In 1962, Ann met Lolo Soetoro, a foreign exchange student from Indonesia, at the University of Hawaii. Two years later, she filed for divorce from Barack Sr. when her son was only three years old. In March 1965, she married Lolo who had applied for, and received, one final extension on his visa. He returned to Jakarta, Indonesia in 1966, followed by Ann and Barack Jr. in 1967.
Barack attended local schools from ages 6 through 10, both public and private Catholic school.
On August 15, 1970, Maya Soetoro was born, and the next year, Ann sent 10-year old Barack to live with her parents in Hawaii, where he attended fifth grade through high school.
In 1972, Ann and Maya joined Barack in Hawaii while Ann was an anthropology graduate student at the University of Hawaii. In 1975 Ann returned to Indonesia to work on her Ph.D. doing field work, and Barack continued to stay in Hawaii with his grandparents. In 1980, Ann divorced Lolo.
In 1992, Ann earned her Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Hawaii. Her doctoral thesis was titled, "Peasant blacksmithing in Indonesia: Surviving and Thriving Against All Odds."
In 1995, Ann returned to Hawaii, was diagnosed with ovarian and uterine cancer, and died on November 7, 1995 at 52 years of age.
Ever since it was revealed that Barack Obama Jr. had lived outside the United States as a youngster, there was been much speculation that he is not an American citizen. In fact, during the campaigns for presidency there were many opponents trying to discredit Obama’s nationality and concerns about his citizenship in an effort to have him disqualified as a candidate for the American presidency.
In 2008 Barack Obama publically presented his Certificate of Live Birth which details his official birthplace as Hawaii. Given the fact that he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1961, nearly two years after it became a state, Barack Obama is an American citizen.
Although some people continue to say that Barack Obama was born elsewhere, his birth certificate and the birth announcement published in a newspaper in Honolulu reflect that he is indeed, and always has been, a natural-born American citizen.
Barack Obama held many jobs and positions throughout his lifetime prior to entering politics:
In 1979, Obama began attending Occidental College in Los Angeles. It was here that in 1981 he first made his appearance in the public eye giving a speech, stating that his college should not invest in South Africa and, instead, should support the abolishment of apartheid in South Africa. In 1981 he transferred to Columbia University in New York City. He majored in political science.
His biography continues with his graduation from Columbia University in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts in 1983, after which he took a five year break from school to work as a market researcher and then as a community organizer.
In 1988, he returned to school, attended Harvard Law School and received his law degree in 1991 with a magna cum laude.
After his 1991 graduation from Harvard Law School, Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004.
From April to October 1992, while teaching at the University of Chicago Law School, Obama directed Illinois' Project Vote, a voter registration campaign, directing a team of volunteers who registered 150,000 previously unregistered African American in Illinois.
In 1993, while still teaching, Obama went to work as director of the Developing Communities Project, a community organization comprised of eight Catholic parishes on Chicago's south side.
As a community organizer he set up job training programs, tenant rights organizations and was an instructor in community organization for a private organizing institute.
In 1993 Obama joined a law firm in Chicago that specialized in civil rights litigation, first as an associate for three years from 1993 to 1996 and then of counsel for eight years until 2004.
Obama's selection as the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review gained a publisher's attention and he was asked to write a book on race relations, which was published in 1995 as his autobiography Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance which details the joys, frustrations, and regrets of his days as a high schooler in Honolulu.
Other books written by Obama include:
In 1996, five years after graduating from Harvard Law School, Obama entered the public domain as a political figure. In 1996, he was elected to the Illinois Senate representing Chicago's south side neighborhoods. During his tenure in the Illinois Senate Obama sponsored and participated in and provided bipartisan support for many laws for ethics, health care, childcare, payday loan regulations and predatory mortgage lending.
Obama campaigned for the United States Senate starting in 2002 by raising funds and developing his platform. He spoke against the war and quickly became well-known in the Democratic Party, gaining national exposure in July 2004 when he gave the keynote address at the Democratic National convention.
In November 2004 he was elected to the United States Senate with 70% of the vote. He resigned from the Illinois Senate and was sworn in as a Senator on January 3, 2005.
Obama became the only black member of the congressional Black Caucus, a non-partisan group of African American Senators and Representatives which focuses on the economic, health and social issues of the African American.
While in the Senate, Obama sponsored legislation on nuclear weapons threat reduction, relief for the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as a Federal funding act which established the Federal spending website USAspending.gov.
On February 10, 2007, Obama announced that he would be running for President of the United States. He campaigned against several Democratic candidates including Hillary Rodham Clinton. He received the presidential nomination in the Democratic Party primary election. He then engaged in the general election campaign and defeated Republican John McCain in November 2008.
He was inaugurated on January 20, 2009. When he was sworn into office, he was only 47 years old, making him the fifth youngest president in the history of the United States.
He was reelected in November 2012 after defeating Republican nominee Mitt Romney and sworn in for his second term on January 20, 2013.
Barack and Michelle LaVaughn Robinson met at the Sidney Austin law firm where they worked together. They were wed on October 3, 1992. The couple have two daughters. Malia Ann was born on July 4, 1998, and Natasha (Sasha) was born on June 10, 2001.
Mrs. Obama's mother, Marian Shields Robinson, resides in the White House with the family in order to assist with raising the Obama's two daughters.
Many of us know that the wives of presidents tend to become legacies in and of themselves. Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama has become known for both her determined, faithful, and intelligent demeanor, as well as her work to combat obesity and her support of military families.
The current First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama, has her own life and a history that is just as interesting as her husband's:
The First Lady Michelle Obama was thrust into the spotlight during her husband's campaign for the presidency. The media attention that she has received has been both positive and negative:
Neither of Barack Obama's parents were religious, and in fact, his father was an atheist. However, he was baptized as a Christian in 1988. He has made several public comments about his religious views and attended the United Church of Christ while living in Chicago.
While President he attended the Evergreen Chapel at Camp David. This church has been a place where many presidents have worshipped, particularly due to security concerns about attending their home churches.
Some of his accomplishments while President have included:
Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2009 for his "extraordinary efforts" at international diplomacy and foreign policy, especially with the Muslin world.
There were over 200 nominations for the award; however, the five appointed members of the Norwegian Parliament voted unanimously for awarding the prize to Obama. The award is given to the individual who:
"shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
The committee said that they were particularly impressed with Obama's efforts to curb climate change, his support for preventing nuclear proliferation and his use of international bodies such as the United Nation to implement policy goals.
In his December 2009 acceptance speech, Obama made three key points:
For a time perspective of the details of Barack Obama's life, check out the Barack Obama Timeline on YourDictionary.
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