Contemporary Black History - Barack Obama

Barack Obama
August 4, 1961 – Present

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. ~ Barack Obama

Barack Obama is the 44th president of the United States. He was a community organizer, civil-rights lawyer and teacher before pursuing a political career. He was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996 and to the U.S. Senate in 2004. He was elected to the U.S. presidency in 2008, and won re-election in 2012.

Barack Hussein Obama II was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. His mother, Ann Dunham, was born on an Army base in Wichita, Kansas, during World War II. After several moves, Ann’s family ended up in Hawaii. Obama's father, Barack Obama Sr., was born in Kenya. Obama Sr. grew up herding goats in Africa and eventually earned a scholarship that allowed him to leave Kenya and pursue his dreams of going to college in Hawaii. While studying at the University of Hawaii, Obama Sr. met fellow student Ann Dunham, and they married several months later. While Barack was still an infant, his parents separated and later divorced. Barack’s father returned to Kenya and was no longer involved in his son’s life. They saw each other only once more before Barack Sr. died.

After high school, Obama studied at Occidental College in Los Angeles for two years. He transferred to Columbia University in New York City, graduating in 1983 with a degree in political science. He worked in business for two years before moving to Chicago in 1985. There, he worked as a community organizer for low-income residents on the South Side. Obama entered Harvard Law School in 1988. In February 1990, Obama was elected the first African-American editor of the Harvard Law Review. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991. After law school, Obama returned to Chicago to practice as a civil rights lawyer. He helped organize voter registration drives during Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. In 1992, he and Michelle Robinson were married and moved to Chicago's South Side. Daughters Malia and Sasha were born several years later.

Obama quickly climbed the political ladder. He ran for and won a seat in the Illinois State Senate in 1996. In 2004 he was elected to the United States Senate. On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama, Democrat defeated Republican John McCain to win election as the 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African-American to hold this office. Obama's inauguration took place on January 20, 2009.