Barack Obama Biography
When the definitive Barack Obama biography is written, it will map out the story of a U.S. President who has been a polarizing figure while serving in the nation's highest office. President Obama made history by becoming the first African-American man to be elected as President of the United States. Obama represents a reflection of the American dream. He is someone who worked from humble beginnings to become the most powerful man in the world.
Early Life: Obama was born to a Kenyan father and a mother in Hawaii on August 4, 1961. His parents divorced when he was two years old and his mother remarried. The family moved to Indonesia and lived there until Obama was 10 years old. His mother sent him back to Hawaii, fearing for his safety in the Muslim nation, and Obama was raised by his maternal grandparents. He attended Occidental College for two years after graduating from high school and later transferred to Columbia University where he graduated with a political science degree in 1983.
Shaping his Path: A trip to Kenya to see the graves of his father and paternal grandfather altered the course of Obama's life. He had worked as a community organizer for local residents on Chicago's south side, but decided to enter the Harvard Law School in 1988. Obama met Michelle Robinson, an associate at a Chicago law firm, and the two began dating. Obama was elected the first African-American editor of the Harvard Law Review in 1990 and graduated magna cum laude in 1991. He returned to Chicago and married Robinson on October 3, 1992. Obama worked as a civil rights lawyer and also taught classes at the University of Chicago law school.
Political Emergence: Obama's advocacy work spurred him to run for the Illinois State Senate as a Democrat. He was elected in 1996. In the state senate, Obama spearheaded ethics reform, cut taxes for working families, and expanded health care for children and their parents. Following a failed run at a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he was elected as a U.S. senator in 2004. Obama defeated Republican opponent Alan Keyes, claiming 70 percent of the vote compared to 27 percent for Keyes. It was the largest landslide victory in Illinois history.
Becoming President: Obama announced he would run for president in the 2008 election in February, 2007. He emerged as the Democratic nominee after a protracted battle in the primaries with Hillary Rodham Clinton. Obama defeated Republican presidential nominee John McCain in November, winning 52.7 percent of the popular vote, and became the 44th U.S. President.
First Term: Upon taking office, Obama had to deal with a global economic recession and two ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He committed additional troops to Afghanistan while promising a troop withdrawal from Iraq. Obama also enacted an overhaul of the healthcare system. His other major initiative was to introduce an economic stimulus package that featured a bailout of major automotive companies.