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Home > History > President 44 - Barack Obama Biography - Presidents Series

President 44 - Barack Obama Biography - Presidents Series

This is a full biography on Barack Obama. It is part of our presidents series.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

44th President

Barack's Parents

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.

Barack's Mom

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. Baracks 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.

Education and Early Job Experience

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. 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.

Marriage and Children

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

First Political Roles

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 2004, he became known nationally when he gave a speech in support of John Kerry at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. That same year, 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.

President

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. The next year, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2010, he signed the Affordable Care Act into law, which gave millions of people access to health care who otherwise would not qualify. The Act actually required individuals to enroll in a health care program, or, pay a stiff penalty. The controversial act, which became known as "Obamacare", survived challenges in Congress that it inflated the nation's ballooning debt and violated the Constitution.

In 2011, United States Navy Seals killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. Bin Laden was considered one of the most dangerous terrorists in American history and was thought to be the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. Obama also signed legislation to improve diplomatic relations with Cuba and Iran. On November 6, 2012, Barack Obama was elected to a second term as president after defeating the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney.

United States Presidents

 1. George Washington  16. Abraham Lincoln  32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
 2. John Adams  17. Andrew Johnson  33. Harry S. Truman
 3. Thomas Jefferson  18. Ulysses S. Grant  34. Dwight D. Eisenhower 
 4. James Madison  19. Rutherford B. Hayes  35. John F. Kennedy
 5. James Monroe  20. James A. Garfield  36. Lyndon B. Johnson
 6. John Quincy Adams  21. Chester A. Arthur  37. Richard Nixon
 7. Andrew Jackson  22/24. Grover Cleveland  38. Gerald R. Ford
 8. Martin Van Buren  23. Benjamin Harrison  39. Jimmy Carter
 9. William Henry Harrison  25. William McKinley  40. Ronald Reagan
10. John Tyler  26. Theodore Roosevelt  41. George H.W. Bush
11. James K. Polk  27. William Howard Taft  42. Bill Clinton
12. Zachary Taylor  28. Woodrow Wilson  43. George W. Bush
13. Millard Fillmore  29. Warren G. Harding  44. Barack Obama
14. Franklin Pierce  30. Calvin Coolidge  45. Donald J. Trump
15. James Buchanan  31. Herbert Hoover  

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