In 2008, Barack Hussein Obama Jr. launched into the history books as the first African American President of the United States. From his early life, few people could have foreseen his burgeoning leadership skills and vision. However, others would say it was his early life that helped shape his political career. What are some facts about Barack Obama? Prepare to be astounded.
Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961 at the Kapi'olani Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was born to Stanley (Ann) Dunham, an American, and Barack Obama, Sr., from Kenya. In Swahili, the name "Barack" means "one who is blessed."
Stanley Ann Dunham was born in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on November 29, 1942. In 1960, when she turned 18 and graduated from high school, Ann and her parents moved to Hawaii because her parents wanted to pursue business ventures in a state that had just been admitted to the Union.
Ann started taking classes at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, a neighborhood of Honolulu. There, she met Barack Obama, Sr. when they both enrolled in a Russian course and they began dating. Barack Sr. was the first African student ever enrolled in the university.
They married in Maui on February 2, 1961 - in spite of the disapproval from Ann's parents - and Barack Jr. was born six months later. Unfortunately, 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.
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.
Barack Obama held many jobs and positions throughout his lifetime prior to entering politics.
In 1983, Obama graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in political science (international relations specialization) and English literature. He took a five-year break from school to work as a market researcher and then as a community organizer.
In 1988, he enrolled in Harvard Law School and received his law degree in 1991, graduating 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 Americans 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 and tenant rights organizations. He was also 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 and then as counsel for eight years.
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. In it, he details the joys, frustrations, and regrets of his days as a high schooler in Honolulu.
Other books written by Obama include:
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream
Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters
Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama's Plan to Renew America's Promise
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 has two daughters. Malia Ann was born on July 4, 1998, and Natasha (Sasha) was born on June 10, 2001.
Many of us know the wives of presidents tend to become legacies in and of themselves. Michelle 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.
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 provided bipartisan support for many laws for ethics, health care, childcare, payday loan regulations, and predatory mortgage lending.
On February 10, 2007, Obama announced he would be running for President of the United States. He campaigned against several Democratic candidates including Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Obama 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.
Throughout his second term as president, Obama experienced many highs and lows. In 2013, he received bipartisan agreement on a promise he made to the American public during his campaign - higher taxes for the wealthy. However, in that same year, the government shutdown for the first time in 20 years.
In 2014, Republicans gained control over both houses of Congress, creating a less than idyllic situation for Obama's final two years in office. Even still, in 2015, Obama enjoyed a major victory as same-sex marriage was deemed constitutional.
As his time as president was beginning to wind down in 2016, Obama threw in his support for presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. She went on to lose to Donald Trump, who became 45th President of the United States.
January 20, 2017 marked Barack Obama's last day as president. Once his time was up, he took a vacation in Palm Springs, California and announced he and his family would remain in Washington, D.C., at least until his youngest daughter graduated high school.
A well-rounded scholar and athlete, Obama holds many personal interests. Here are some of the highlights:
Scrabble and poker are two of his favorite games to play.
He collects Spider-Man comic books.
He enjoys reading the Harry Potter series to his daughter.
His favorite book is Moby Dick, written by Herman Melville.
Pablo Picasso is his favorite artist.
He loves to cook chili.
He's the sixth post-war President to be left-handed.
He has a couple of good luck charms that he carries with him. One is a Madonna and Christ child statue, and the other is a bracelet that belongs to a soldier who was in Iraq.
He keeps a wooden hand holding an egg on his desk. This is a Kenyan symbol which reminds people of the fragility of life.
He does not drink coffee and he does not drink alcohol frequently.
To fall into the ranks of some of the youngest presidents in U.S. history is surely a major accomplishment. But, Obama was always a high-achiever. Let's take a look at a selection of his many accomplishments.
Some of his accomplishments as president include:
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (sometimes called PPACA, ACA, or "Obamacare")
Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010
Budget Control Act of 2011
American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012
First sitting president to support same-sex marriage
Ended U.S. military involvement in the Iraq War
Ordered the military operation that ended in the death of Osama bin Laden
Obama has also achieved many great things outside of politics.
At his high school, people called him "O'Bomber" because of his basketball skills.
In 2006, Obama won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Recording.
He can speak Spanish.
Obama can bench press 200 pounds.
Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2009 for his "extraordinary efforts" at international diplomacy and foreign policy, especially with the Muslim world.
There were over 200 nominations for the award; however, the five appointed members of the Norwegian Parliament voted unanimously to award the prize to Obama. The committee said they were particularly impressed with Obama's efforts to curb climate change, his support for preventing nuclear proliferation, and his work with international bodies such as the United Nations to implement policy goals.
In 2018, Obama announced a multiyear deal with Netflix. In it, he and his wife will produce a series of shows - scripted and unscripted - addressing issues that were important to them during his eight years in office. For more on the 44th President, enjoy this time in-depth timeline of his life.