This and that

Black History Month Featuring Barack Obama


Barack Obama

-Born August 4, 1961

-He was elected the 44th President of the United States on November 4, 2008, and sworn in on January 20, 2009. Also the 1st African American President of the United States.

-He was a civil rights lawyer before pursuing a political career, first as Illinois State Senator.

-While living with his grandparents, Obama enrolled in the esteemed Punahou Academy, excelling in basketball and graduating with academic honors in 1979.

-As one of only three black students at the school, Obama became conscious of racism and what it meant to be African-American.

-He later described how he struggled to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage with his own sense of self. “I began to notice there was nobody like me in the Sears, Roebuck Christmas catalog…and that Santa was a white man,” he said. “I went to the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror with all my senses and limbs seemingly intact, looking the way I had always looked, and wondered if something was wrong with me.”

-After high school, Obama studied at Occidental College in Los Angeles for two years. He then transferred to Columbia University in New York, graduating in 1983 with a degree in political science. After working in the business sector for two years, Obama moved to Chicago in 1985.

-Obama returned from Kenya with a sense of renewal, entering Harvard Law School in 1988.

-In February 1990, Obama was elected the first African-American editor of the Harvard Law Review, and he graduated magna cum laude in 1991.

-He taught at the University of Chicago Law School, and helped organize voter registration drives during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.

-Barack Obama published his autobiography in 1995 Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. The work received high praise from literary figures such as Toni Morrison and has since been printed in 10 languages, including Chinese, Swedish and Hebrew.

-The book had a second printing in 2004, and is currently being adapted into a children’s version. The 2006 audiobook version of Dreams, which was narrated by Obama, received a Grammy award for Best Spoken Word Album.

-Obama’s advocacy work led him to run for the Illinois State Senate as a Democrat. He won election in 1996. During these years, Obama worked with both Democrats and Republicans in drafting legislation on ethics, expanded health care services, and early childhood education programs for the poor.

-He also created a state earned-income tax credit for the working poor. Obama became chairman of the Illinois Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee as well, and after a number of inmates on death row were found innocent, he worked with law enforcement officials to require the videotaping of interrogations and confessions in all capital cases.

-In 2000, Obama made an unsuccessful Democratic primary run for the U. S. House of Representatives seat held by four-term incumbent candidate Bobby Rush.

-Undeterred, Obama created a campaign committee in 2002, and began raising funds to run in the 2004 U.S. Senate Race.

-Obama, encouraged by poll numbers, decided to run for the U.S. Senate open seat vacated by Republican Peter Fitzgerald. In the 2004 Democratic primary, he won 52 percent of the vote, defeating multimillionaire businessman Blair Hull and Illinois Comptroller Daniel Hynes.

-That summer, he was invited to deliver the keynote speech in support of John Kerry at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Obama emphasized the importance of unity, and made veiled jabs at the Bush administration and the diversionary use of wedge issues.



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