In one of the most unlikely and inspirational stories in history, Barack Hussein Obama has gathered his collective life experiences to include his multi-racial background, humble upbringing, international education and varied professional career and translated it all into an amazing career that currently finds him as the undisputed leader of the free world and the two-term President of the United States.
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii from a Kenyan father (Barack Obama Sr.) and a white American mother (Ann Dunham), the Barack Obama story immediately starts with a twist. Shortly after his birth Barack and his mother moved to Seattle as Ann pursued her education while Barack Sr. remained behind in Hawaii. Ultimately Barack's parents divorced in 1964 and Ann remarried an Indonesian man (Lolo Soetero) in 1965. In 1967 Ann and Barack moved to Indonesia to join Soetero, and it was there that Barack attended school from age six to ten. In 1971 Barack returned to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents (his mother ultimately moved back to Indonesia) and it was in Hawaii that Barack finished his education from fifth grade through high school.
Upon graduation from Punahou School Obama attended college at Occidental, transferred and graduated from Columbia University, and then entered the prestigious Harvard Law School where he graduated cum laude and served as president of the Harvard Law Review. Professionally Obama worked several years as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago for 12 years, from 1992 - 2004.
Obama’s first foray into political office was in 1996 when he was elected to serve the 13th District of the Illinois State Senate. He served three successful terms there and as his political star began to rise he was tapped to give the keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention (DNC). As a result of his overwhelmingly successful DNC speech (see it here), Obama burst onto the national political scene and easily won his race for Congress as Illinois Senator. He served with distinction, co-sponsoring several bi-partisan bills until his historic and successful bid for the presidency in 2008.
Accomplishments as President
President Obama has accomplished much in his first term as president. So much so that if he continues on this pace during his second term he may very well go down as one of the most consequential presidents in history. Below are just a few of his many accomplishments.
Passage of the Lily Ledbetter Act (equal pay for women)
Passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (saving America from financial collapse)
Universal Health Care via the Affordable Care Act (insuring 40 million Americans)
Wall Street Reform via Dodd-Frank (eliminating "too big to fail")
Killing Osama Bin Laden, the #1 terrorist in American history
Decimated Al Queda, the leading terrorist organization in the world (27 of top 30 leaders dead)
Ending the Iraq War
Aiding the Liberation of Libya (without a single American casualty)
Reduced world nuclear weapons by 50% through New START
Repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell (equal protection for gays in the military)
10 Things You May Not Know About Barack Obama
So much has been written about Barack Obama but here are a few things that you may not know.
1. Barack Obama is a “Jr.”. His Kenyan-born father is also named Barack Obama
2. As a youth (through high school) friends and family called him “Barry”
3. Barack Obama was a long-time smoker until (after several attempts) he quit in 2010
4. Barack Obama met his wife Michelle Obama (then Michelle Robinson) in 1989. They were married 3 years later in 1992. They waited 6 years before having their first child (Malia) 6 years later, followed by Sasha in 2001.
5. Obama is a huge Chicago White Sox and Bears fan, but in his youth favored the Pittsburgh Steelers.
6. Barack Obama speaks basic Indonesian, having attended school there from ages six to ten
7. Barack Obama is a “lefty”
8. Barack Obama has relatives all over the globe to include seven half-siblings in Kenya, an Indonesian half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, and Irish cousins in Moneygall Ireland.
9. Barack Obama never lived with his father and, although he has visited, has never lived in Kenya.
10. Obama spent his teen years in Hawaii with his maternal, Kansas-born grandmother Madelyn Dunham. During this time his mother lived in Indonesia.
Bonus: In 2009 Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize
Obama represents the promise of a diverse, racially-tolerant America. Although we do not yet have a country free of racism, the election of a mixed race, self-identifying African American president represents the promise of a country where a person of any race can achieve any position. Obama represents the melting pot that most want America to be. In a 2006 interview, Obama highlighted the diversity of his extended family: "It's like a little mini-United Nations", he said. "I've got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I've got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher."
Being the president of the United States is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Arguably no one has as much pressure as the POTUS. Being the first African American president increases the pressure and responsibility exponentially as Obama literally has the hopes of an entire race and a generation on his back. Through it all Obama has performed excellently. He has been a strong leader, he has been an excellent communicator and orator, and he has shown the world that he (and by default any black man) is worthy of the opportunity to be President. Just as Jackie Robinson broke the historic color line in baseball, Obama has forever changed the way the world looks at the potential of African Americans. What we do with the opportunity is up to us as individuals (as it should be).
Most know that Barack Obama is one of the most quoted people on the planet. Certainly part of that is because he is the President of the United States, but it is mostly because Obama has so many memorable things to say. Instead of filling this whole post with hundreds of quotes instead I will share one that I think sums up the "Barack Obama experience".
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” - Barack Obama
There has been so much written about Barack Obama, but the best source to find out about the man is to read his own autobiography "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream". An amazing book that gives you insight into the man and his vision. After reading it you will have even more respect for the man who is our 44th President.
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