Barack Obama Biography & Facts
Barack Hussein Obama II ( (listen) bə-RAHK hoo-SAYN oh-BAH-mə; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, Obama was the first African-American president of the United States. He previously served as a U.S. senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008 and as an Illinois state senator from 1997 to 2004, and previously worked as a civil rights lawyer before entering politics.
Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. After graduating from Columbia University in 1983, he worked as a community organizer in Chicago. In 1988, he enrolled in Harvard Law School, where he was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. After graduating, he became a civil rights attorney and an academic, teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Turning to elective politics, he represented the 13th district in the Illinois Senate from 1997 until 2004, when he ran for the U.S. Senate. Obama received national attention in 2004 with his March Senate primary win, his well-received July Democratic National Convention keynote address, and his landslide November election to the Senate. In 2008, after a close primary campaign against Hillary Clinton, he was nominated by the Democratic Party for president and chose Joe Biden as his running mate. Obama was elected over Republican nominee John McCain in the presidential election and was inaugurated on January 20, 2009. Nine months later, he was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, a decision that drew a mixture of praise and criticism.
Obama's first-term actions addressed the global financial crisis and included a major stimulus package, a partial extension of George W. Bush's tax cuts, legislation to reform health care, a major financial regulation reform bill, and the end of a major US military presence in Iraq. Obama also appointed Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, the latter of whom became the first Hispanic American on the Supreme Court. His policy against terrorism downplayed Bush's counterinsurgency model, expanding air strikes and making extensive use of special forces, and encouraging greater reliance on host-government militaries. He also ordered the counterterrorism raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
After winning re-election by defeating Republican opponent Mitt Romney, Obama was sworn in for a second term on January 20, 2013. In his second term, Obama took steps to combat climate change, signing a major international climate agreement and an executive order to limit carbon emissions. Obama also presided over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and other legislation passed in his first term, and he negotiated a nuclear agreement with Iran and normalized relations with Cuba. The number of American soldiers in Afghanistan fell dramatically during Obama's second term, though U.S. soldiers remained in Afghanistan throughout Obama's presidency. Obama left office on January 20, 2017, and continues to reside in Washington, D.C. His presidential library in Chicago began construction in 2021.
During Obama's terms as president, the United States' reputation abroad, as well as the American economy, significantly improved. Rankings by scholars and historians place him among the upper to mid tier of American presidents. Since leaving office, Obama has remained active in Democratic politics, including campaigning for candidates in various American elections. Outside of politics, Obama has published three bestselling books: Dreams from My Father (1995), The Audacity of Hope (2006) and A Promised Land (2020).
Early life and career
Obama was born on August 4, 1961, at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is the only president born outside the contiguous 48 states. He was born to an American mother and a Kenyan father. His mother, Ann Dunham (1942–1995), was born in Wichita, Kansas and was mostly of English descent, though in 2007 it was discovered her great-great-grandfather Falmouth Kearney emigrated from the village of Moneygall, Ireland to the US in 1850. In July 2012, Ancestry.com found a strong likelihood that Dunham was descended from John Punch, an enslaved African man who lived in the Colony of Virginia during the seventeenth century. Obama's father, Barack Obama Sr. (1934–1982), was a married Luo Kenyan from Nyang'oma Kogelo. Obama's parents met in 1960 in a Russian language class at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where his father was a foreign student on a scholarship. The couple married in Wailuku, Hawaii, on February 2, 1961, six months before Obama was born.In late August 1961, a few weeks after he was born, Barack and his mother moved to the University of Washington in Seattle, where they lived for a year. During that time, Barack's father completed his undergraduate degree in economics in Hawaii, graduating in June 1962. He left to attend graduate school on a scholarship at Harvard University, where he earned an M.A. in economics. Obama's parents divorced in March 1964. Obama Sr. returned to Kenya in 1964, where he married for a third time and worked for the Kenyan government as the Senior Economic Analyst in the Ministry of Finance. He visited his son in Hawaii only once, at Christmas 1971, before he was killed in an automobile accident in 1982, when Obama was 21 years old. Recalling his early childhood, Obama said: "That my father looked nothing like the people around me—that he was black as pitch, my mother white as milk—barely registered in my mind." He described his struggles as a young adult to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage.In 1963, Dunham met Lolo Soetoro at the University of Hawaii; he was an Indonesian East–West Center graduate student in geography. The couple married on Molokai on March 15, 1965. After two one-year extensions of his J-1 visa, Lolo returned to Indonesia in 1966. His wife and stepson followed sixteen months later in 1967. The family initially lived in the Menteng Dalam neighborhood in the Tebet district of South Jakarta. From 1970, they lived in a wealthier neighborhood in the Menteng district of Central Jakarta.
At the age of six, Obama and his mother had moved to Indonesia to join his stepfather. From age six to ten, he attended local Indonesian-language schools: Sekolah Dasar Katolik Santo Fransiskus Asisi (St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Elementary School) for two years and Sekolah Dasar Negeri Menteng 01 (State Elementary School Menteng 01) for one and a half years, supplemented by English-language Calvert School homeschooling by his mother. As a result of his four years in Jakarta, he was able to speak Indonesian fluently as a child. During his time in Indonesia, Obama's stepfather taught him to be resilient and gave him "a pretty hardheaded assessment of how the world works."In 1971, Obama returned to Honolulu to live with his mater.... Discover the Barack Obama popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Barack Obama books.