BornAugust 4, 1961 (1961-08-04) (age 47)
Birth nameBarack Hussein Obama II
SpouseMichelle Obama (m. 1992)
ChildrenMalia Ann (b.1998)
Natasha (Sasha) (b.2001)
ResidenceChicago, IL (private)
White House, Washington, D.C. (official)
Alma materOccidental College
Columbia University (B.A.)
Harvard Law School (J.D.)
Barack Hussein Obama II born August 4, 1961 is the 44th and current President of the
United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama was the junior
United States Senator from Illinois from 2005 until he resigned following his election to
the presidency. He was inaugurated as President on January 20, 2009.
Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the first
African American president of the Harvard Law Review. He worked as a community organizer
in Chicago prior to earning his law degree, and practiced as a civil rights attorney in
Chicago before serving three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004.
He also taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004
. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000,
Obama was elected to the Senate in November 2004. Obama delivered the keynote address at
the Democratic National Convention in July 2004.
Early life and career
Barack Obama was born at the Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women & Children in Honolulu,
Hawaii, United States, to Stanley Ann Dunham,a European American from Wichita, Kansas,
and Barack Obama, Sr., a Luo from Nyang'oma Kogelo, Nyanza Province, Kenya.
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 scholarship.The couple married on
February 2, 1961. Obama's parents separated when Obama was two years old, and they
divorced in 1964. Obama's father returned to Kenya and saw his son only once more before
dying in an automobile accident in 1982.
After her divorce, Dunham married Indonesian student Lolo Soetoro, who was attending
college in Hawaii. When Soeharto, a military leader in Soetoro's home country, came to
power in 1967, all students studying abroad were recalled and the family moved to Indonesia
. There Obama attended local schools in Jakarta, such as Besuki Public School and St.
Francis of Assisi School, until he was ten years old.
He then returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents, Madelyn and Stanley
Armour Dunham, while attending Punahou School from the fifth grade in 1971 until his
graduation from high school in 1979. Obama's mother returned to Hawaii in 1972 for
five years, and then in 1977 went back to Indonesia, where she worked as an anthropological
field worker. She stayed there most of the rest of her life, returning to Hawaii in 1994.
She died of ovarian cancer in 1995.
Of his early childhood, Obama has recalled, "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." In his 1995 memoir, he described his struggles as a young adult to reconcile social
perceptions of his multiracial heritage. He wrote that he used alcohol, marijuana and
cocaine during his teenage years to "push questions of who I was out of my mind." At the
2008 Civil Forum on the Presidency, Obama identified his high-school drug use as his
"greatest moral failure."
Some of his fellow students at Punahou School later told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin that
Obama was mature for his age, and that he sometimes attended college parties and other events
in order to associate with African American students and military service people. Reflecting
later on his formative years in Honolulu, Obama wrote: "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."
Following high school, Obama moved to Los Angeles to attend Occidental College. After two
years he transferred to Columbia University in New York City, where he majored in political
science with a specialization in international relations. Obama graduated with a B.A. from
Columbia in 1983. He worked for a year at the Business International Corporation and then
at the New York Public Interest Research Group.
After four years in New York City, Obama moved to Chicago, where he was hired as director
of the Developing Communities Project (DCP), a church-based community organization