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 January 2005 until
November 2008, when he resigned following his election to the presidency. 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 was a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree.
He worked as a civil rights attorney in Chicago and also taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Obama served three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, Obama ran for United States Senate in 2004. His victory from a crowded field in the March 2004 Democratic primary raised his visibility, and his prime-time televised keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004 made him a rising star nationally in the Democratic Party.
He was elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2004 by the largest margin in Illinois history. He began his run for the presidency in February 2007. After a close campaign in the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries against Hillary Rodham Clinton, he won his party's nomination, becoming the first major party African American candidate for president. In the 2008 general election, he defeated Republican candidate John McCain and was inaugurated a president on January 20, 2009.
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, an American of mainly English descent 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 Mānoa, where his father was a foreign student on scholarship.
The couple married on February 2, 1961 and Barack was born later that year. His parents separated when he 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 Suharto, a military leader in Soetoro's home country, came to power in 1967, all Indonesian students studying abroad were recalled and the family moved to the island nation. From ages six to ten, Obama attended local schools in Jakarta, including Besuki Public School and St. Francis of Assisi School.
He then returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents, Madelyn and Stanley Armour Dunham, and attended Punahou School, a private college preparatory school, from the fifth grade in 1971 until his graduation from high school in 1979.
Of his early childhood, Obama 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." He described his struggles as a young adult to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage.
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." Obama has also written and talked about using 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 in 2008, Obama identified his high-school drug use as his "greatest moral failure".
Following high school, he moved to Los Angeles in 1979 to attend Occidental College. After two years he transferred in 1981 to Columbia University in New York City, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations and graduated with a B.A. in 1983. He worked for a year at the Business