The 44th United States President, Barack Obama, was the first ever African American President to serve the nation. He took his place in the office in 2008 and was re-elected as President in 2012.
The birth of Barack Hussein Obama II took place in Hawaii on 4th August, 1961. The boy’s parents had studied together at the famous University of Hawaii. Obama’s mother was a white woman named Ann Dunham from the state of Kansas and his father was a black man from Kenya named Barack Obama Sr., who was getting educated in the U.S.
Obama was only two when his father left to pursue higher studies at the prestigious Harvard University. He was later killed in a vehicle accident in Kenya. Obama was not very close to his father as a child. After the divorce of his parents, Obama’s mother got married to a foreign student named Lolo Soetoro from the University of Hawaii.
A year after the marriage, the family shifted to Jakarta in Indonesia, the native land of his step-father. It is here that Obama’s step sister was born. She was named Maya Soetoro Ng. Dunham was scared about the education and safety of her son following numerous incidents that were taking place in Indonesia at that time. Hence, Obama was returned to Hawaii when he was 10 years old. He was to be taken care of by his mother’s parents or maternal grandparents.
When Obama was still in school, his mother divorced Soetoro. She came back to Hawaii and began studying cultural anthropology. Later, she returned to Indonesia for the purpose of field research. Obama continued to stay with his grandparents all this while. While he was a decent student at school (Punahou), he was not really outstanding. He was involved in varsity football. Later he admitted that he had dabbled in alcohol and drugs, including cocaine and marijuana. As far as religion was concerned, Obama wrote that both his parents were nonbelievers. In fact, even his grandparents weren’t really religious. Therefore, he wasn’t raised to be a believer.
During the time when Obama lived with his old grandparents, he was sent to the prestigious Punahou Academy. The boy was brilliant at basketball, though average at studies. In 1979, he managed to graduate with an academic honors degree. There were just 3 black students enrolled at Punahou. This led to Obama becoming extremely aware of racism in the early years of his life. He later spoke about the struggles of reconciling his own self-image and social perceptions related to his unique multicultural heritage.
Pre-election life and entry into politics
Obama worked in the field of corporate research as well as at the esteemed New York Public Interest Research Group for two years before moving to Chicago. In Chicago, he became a community developer while working with a church-based organization (Developing Communities Project). In the following years, Obama worked with all the low-income groups living in the Roseland community of Chicago and also with South Side’s Algeld Gardens.
It was in 1996 that Obama officially kick-started his political career and won an election to become a Democrat member of the state senate in Illinois (from South Side). There was a lot of control exercised by the Republicans during the time he was part of the senate. However, Obama was successful in building support among the Democrats as well as the Republicans and drafted legislation on healthcare and ethics. He also did a considerable amount of work in the field of education, especially for the poor.
Obama was unsuccessful in being elected as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000. The seat was held by Bobby Rush, a long-term serving candidate. But Obama remained undeterred and formulated a proper campaign committee two years later, that is, in 2002. He started to raise funds so that he could run for joining the U.S. Senate as a member in 2004. He took help from David Axelrod, a renowned political consultant, and started reviewing his prospects for winning a seat in the senate.
One of the most notable actions of Obama as a senator of state was to go on record and criticize President Bush when he tried to encourage war with the Iraqis. In 2004, he managed to win 52% vote within the Democrats and defeated both Daniel Hynes (Illinois Comptroller) and Blair Hull (multibillionaire businessman).
Obama was the recipient of 70% votes in the state of Illinois in 2004 and this sent him to D.C. to take a seat in the U.S. Senate as one of the very few African Americans since Reconstruction. Researchers note that Obama was highly focused on specific issues such as the health scare associated with the fatal avian flu and nuclear non-proliferation during his term.
On 4th November, 2008, Obama was successful in defeating John McCain, the Republican nominee running for presidency, and won the elections to become the 44th United States President.