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Biography

President Barack Obama


Barack Obama by Pete Souza


Barack Obama was the 44th President of the United States.

Served as President: 2009-2017
Vice President: Joseph Biden
Party: Democrat
Age at inauguration: 47

Born: August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii
Married: Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama
Children: Malia, Sasha
Nickname: Barry

Biography:

What is Barack Obama most known for?

Barack Obama is most famous for being the first African American President of the United States.

Growing Up

Barack grew up in the state of Hawaii as well as Jakarta, a city in Indonesia. His mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was from Kansas while his father, Barack Obama, Sr., was born in Kenya, Africa. After his parents were divorced, his mother married a man from Indonesia and the family moved to Indonesia for a time. Later, Barack was raised by his grandparents in Hawaii. When he was a kid he went by the nickname "Barry".

Barack graduated from Columbia University in New York in 1983. After graduating, he had a few different jobs including working at the Developing Communities Project in Chicago, Illinois. He soon decided he wanted to become a lawyer and he entered Harvard Law School. Upon graduating in 1991, he began practicing law.


President Obama at podium
Source: U.S. Navy
Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Leah Stiles

Before He Became President

In 1996 Barack decided to enter the world of politics. He ran for the Illinois State Senate and won. He served on the state senate until 2004 when he was elected to the United States Senate.

After three years of serving on the U.S Senate, Obama entered the 2008 presidential election. He had gained national recognition for being an excellent speaker and was very popular. His biggest hurdle would be defeating former First Lady and New York Senator Hillary Clinton in the democratic primaries.

Obama defeated Hillary Clinton in the primaries and then took on republican candidate John McCain in the general election. He won the election and was inaugurated as president on January 20, 2009. He was re-elected again in 2012 winning the election over republican Mitt Romney.

Barack Obama's Presidency

Below we've listed some of the events and accomplishments during Barack Obama's presidency:
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Wars - These wars were currently ongoing when Obama became president. The Iraq War has gone fairly well since Obama became president and is now considered over with U.S. Troops returning home. The Afghanistan War did not fare as well. U.S casualties grew and 2010 is now considered the worst year of the war. However, Osama bin Laden (the leader of the 9/11 attacks) was finally captured and killed on May 11, 2011.
  • U.S. Economy - There are various arguments on how the U.S. economy fared under Obama's leadership. Obama pushed for higher taxes, a larger federal government, and stimulus plans to get the economy moving. While some signs showed improvement, the economy remained sluggish throughout his presidency and the national debt more than doubled.
  • Health Care Reform - Obama pushed for health care reform and signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law in 2010. This law is sometimes called "Obamacare." This law was intended to help poor people to be able to afford health insurance.
  • Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill - On April 20, 2010 an accident on an oil rig caused a giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Tons of oil was released into the ocean for days on end. This oil contaminated much of the gulf and is considered to be one of the worst environmental disasters in world history.
  • Foreign Policy - President Obama's foreign relations accomplishments included a nuclear program agreement with Iran, toppling Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, and opening diplomatic relations with Cuba (he was the first sitting president to visit Cuba since 1928).
After Presidency

At the time of this writing, Obama had just left office. What he will do after being president and how much he will be involved in world politics remains to be seen.

Fun Facts about Barack Obama
  • He likes to play basketball and is an avid sports fan. His favorite teams are the Chicago Bears for football and the Chicago White Sox for baseball.
  • He has several half-siblings including a younger half-sister named Maya Soetoro-Ng.
  • He has made good money from writing books. In 2009 he made $5.5 million.
  • Barack can speak Indonesian and some Spanish.
  • He won a Grammy Award in 2006 for his voice on the audio book Dreams From My Father.
  • After working at a Baskin-Robbins as a teen, Barack no longer likes ice cream. Bummer!
  • He has read all the Harry Potter books.
  • While living in Indonesia he got to eat some interesting items including grasshoppers and snake meat. Yum!
Activities

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Biographies for Kids >> US Presidents for Kids

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Barack Obama Playing Basketball
by Pete Souza

Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 4, 1961. His mother was Stanley Ann Dunham, called Ann. She met Barack Obama’s father, Barack Obama Sr., while she was taking a Russian language class at the University of Hawaii. Barack Sr. was of Luo ancestry. He had grown up herding goats in Kenya, but he earned a scholarship to the University of Hawaii. They married in 1961. Interracial marriage was illegal in most states in 1961.

Ann dropped out of college to care for Barack Jr. His father was accepted to a PhD program at Harvard University. His father studied economics because he dreamed of helping Kenya’s economy. Barack’s parents divorced in 1964, and Ann returned to the university. As a single parent, she needed food stamps and help from her family to do it, but she finished her degree in anthropology. She spent the next 20 years completing her PhD in anthropology. Her thesis was about blacksmithing in Indonesia.

Barack moved to Indonesia when he was six. His mother had met Lolo Soetoro after she returned to college. He was from Java, an island that is part of Indonesia. He studied geography. Ann and Lolo were married in Hawaii. They moved to Indonesia in 1966 and had a daughter, Maya. Barack went to Indonesian- and English-speaking schools there until he was 10. Then, he moved back to Hawaii to live with his grandparents. For grades 5-12, he went to Punahou School and graduated with honors in 1979. He was an excellent basketball player. Obama wrote about growing up in Hawaii: “The opportunity that Hawaii offered—to experience a variety of cultures in a climate of mutual respect—became an integral part of my world view, and a basis for the values that I hold most dear.”

With the help of scholarships and student loans, he went to Occidental College in Los Angeles from 1979–1981, and then Columbia University in New York. He decided to major in political science, specializing in international relations.

After school, Barack moved to Chicago. From 1985–1988, he worked as a community organizer for the Developing Communities Project (DCP). DCP was founded by a group of churches to help people who lost their jobs when local steel plants were closed. Barack helped set up a job training program, a tutoring program for people who wanted to go to college, and a tenants’ rights organization.

Barack became interested in law and was accepted to Harvard Law School. He was the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. When he finished law school, he went back to Chicago where he was an attorney for victims of housing and employment discrimination. He also worked on voting rights legislation.

He taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School and married Michelle Robinson. They had met while he had a summer internship at a law firm. She was an attorney there who was asked to be his adviser. They were married in 1992 and had two daughters: Malia (born 1998) and Sasha (born 2001).

In 1996, he was elected to the Illinois State Senate. His district included both the area around the University of Chicago (Hyde Park) and some of the poorest ghettos on the South Side of Chicago. He helped pass ethics reform, cut taxes for working families, expanded health care services, and increased funding for early childhood education programs for the poor.

In the 2004, he became known nationally when he gave a speech in support of John Kerry at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. In 2004, Barack Obama became the third African-American elected to the US Senate since Reconstruction. He created a website to track federal spending, helped pass lobbying reform, provided funding to lock up and destroy weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union, and pushed for alternative energy development and for improved benefits for veterans.

In 2008, he defeated Hillary Clinton to become the Democratic candidate for president and defeated the Republican candidate, John McCain, to become the 44th President of the United States. He was the first African-American president. On November 6, 2012, Barack Obama was elected to a second term as president after defeating the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney.

Barack published his autobiography, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, in 1995. It has been printed in 10 languages. An audiobook version, which he narrated, received a Grammy Award for best spoken-word album.

 

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