6 Jan 2008

Who is Barack Obama?


Barack Obama is the junior U.S. Senator from Illinois and a Democratic candidate for president in 2008.

Barack Hussein Obama was born Aug. 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii, the son of Barack Obama, Sr., a member of Kenya's Luo tribe, and Ann Dunham (born in Wichita, Kansas). Obama’s parents separated when he was two years old and later divorced.

Obama’s father went to Harvard to pursue Ph.D. studies and then returned to Kenya. His mother married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian foreign student. In 1967, the family moved to Jakarta, Indonesia.

Four years later, Obama returned to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents and attend the esteemed Punahou Academy.

In his memoir, Obama describes how he struggled to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage. He rarely saw his biological father and admits using alcohol, marijuana and cocaine during his teenage years.

After high school, Obama studied at Occidental College in Los Angeles for two years. He then transferred to Columbia University in New York and graduated in 1983 with a degree in political science.

After working at Business International Corporation and NYPIRG, Obama moved to Chicago in 1985 to work as a community organizer in some of city’s toughest neighborhoods. It was during this time that Obama, who says he "was not raised in a religious household," joined the Trinity United Church of Christ.

Obama entered Harvard Law School in 1988, graduating magna cum laude in 1991. He was also the first African-American editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Obama taught for many years at the University of Chicago Law School and helped organize voter registration drives during Bill Clinton’s election. He spent seven years in the Illinois state Senate, always putting working families at the top of his agenda.

In 2004, he made a successful bid for the U.S. Senate, becoming only the third African-American elected to the Senate in more than a century.

He had published an autobiography Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance in 2004. His second book The Audacity of Hope was published in 2006.

In February 2007, Obama made headlines when he announced his candidacy for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. He is running against the likes of former first lady and current U.S. Senator from New York, Hilary Rodham Clinton, and 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards.

Obama met his wife, Michelle, in 1988 when he was a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley & Austin. They were married in October 1992 and live in Kenwood on Chicago’s South Side with their daughters, Malia (born 1999) and Sasha (born 2001).

© 2008 A&E Television Networks. All rights reserved.

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