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Barack Obama: 1st African origin president of US

The 44th president of the United States is a Columbia University and Harvard Law School graduate. He was a civil rights attorney before he entered politics and as a president moved to stabilise the economy, boost growth and overhaul foreign policy.

inspiring-lives Updated: Jan 20, 2020 14:20 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Barack Obama supported same-sex marriages and fought for women’s right to take decisions affecting their health on their own.
Barack Obama supported same-sex marriages and fought for women’s right to take decisions affecting their health on their own. (Illustration: Gajanan Nirphale)

Born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Obama, Sr, a Kenyan, and Stanley Ann Dunham, an American of mostly English ancestry. In 1964, the parents of Obama Jr. divorced and he was raised with help from his grandparents. In 1979, Obama graduated from high school and moved to Los Angeles to attend the Occidental College. In 1981, he enrolled at the Columbia University, New York City, from where he graduated with Bachelor of Arts. He enrolled at the Harvard Law School in 1988 and became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, a respected publication on law.

Career

In 1992, Obama returned to Illinois to teach Constitutional Law in the University of Chicago and launched a career in public service. He won seats in the Illinois State Senate in 1996 and the US Senate in 2004. He delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, after which his popularity soared. On January 3, 2005, he was sworn in as a senator. In 2007, Obama announced his candidacy for the post of President of the United States. On November 4, 2008, he defeated Republican nominee John McCain and was sworn in as the President on the date of January 20, 2009.

To help the economy bounce back from recession, Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a $787-billion economic stimulus package that included increased federal spending for health care, infrastructure, education, tax breaks and incentives. As part of steps taken to meet military and security challenges, the President authorised a raid on the location of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. The operation, conducted by US Navy SEALs on May 1, 2011, resulted in bin Laden’s death. During his first term as the president, Obama supported same-sex marriages and fought for women’s right to take decisions affecting their health on their own. He also made college education more affordable for millions of students. Obama faced Republican opponent Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. He won the election and was sworn in for a second term on January 20, 2013. During his second inaugural address, Obama became the first US President in office to call for full equality for gay Americans. He also sought to normalise relations between the US and Cuba. Obama’s term concluded on January 20, 2017, immediately after the inauguration of his successor, Donald Trump, and he left office with a 60 percent approval rating.

Personal life

Obama met Michelle Robinson in 1989 while he was a summer associate at the Chicago law firm Sidley Austin. Eventually they got married in 1992 and have daughters Malia and Natasha.

Awards

He received two Best Spoken Word Album Grammy Awards. He won the awards for the abridged audiobook versions of Dreams from My Father (2006) and for The Audacity of Hope (2008). In 2009, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Barack Obama “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”.

INTERESTING FACTS

1. He is the first American president to be born outside the 48 contiguous states. He was named after his father, Barack Obama Sr. Barack, means “one who is blessed” in Swahili. His nickname in childhood was Barry.

2. His published The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, 2006, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, 2007, and Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, 2010.

3. In December 2008, Time magazine named Barack Obama the Person of the Year. He won the same honour a second time in December 2012. The magazine has had more than 11 US presidents on its cover.

4. In 2017, August 4 was declared Barack Obama Day in Illinois state. Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law a measure to make it day a holiday that since 2018, occurs on Obama’s birthday (August 4).

5. His Presidential tenure began when US was in the throes of conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and in the midst of political turbulence. The Great American Dream was threatened by severe economic calamity.

Source: famouspeople.com, barackobama.com, Wikipedia