October 30, 2012

President Obama 101

All about the incumbent candidate.

Jessica: His dad, an exchange student from Kenya, and his mom from Kansas, met at the University of Hawaii. Their only son together was born in 1961 in Honolulu. They named him Barack, meaning ‘blessed’ in Arabic. President Obama’s parents separated when he was two.

President Obama: My father was a larger-than-life figure, and my mother always spoke well of him even though he wasn’t around.

Jessica: Four years later, his mom remarried an Indonesian man and the family moved to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. At age nine, a young Barack moved back to Hawaii, after his mom and stepfather separated. He attended a private academy, the Punahou School, where he went by the name Barry.

Barry made the school’s varsity basketball team. But during the state championship game, he was a bench warmer. After high school, the young Obama went on to get a degree from Columbia University. In 1985, he got a job as a community organizer in Chicago. He went to work organizing church and neighborhood groups on Chicago’s Southside. Three years later, he left Chicago for Cambridge, Massachusetts and enrolled at Harvard Law School, where he became the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. One summer, he returned to Chicago to work at a law firm, and that is where he met Michelle Robinson.

Michelle Obama: What struck me when I first met Barack was that even though he had this funny name and even though he had grown up all the way across the continent in Hawaii, his family was so much like mine.

Jessica: In 1992, they married and went on to have two daughters together, Malia and Sasha.

After graduating among the top of his class, Barack Obama worked as a civil rights lawyer and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. He began his political career in 1996 and was elected to the Illinois State Senate at 35-years-old. In 2000, State Senator Obama ran for the U.S. House of Representatives. He lost, badly, and considered dropping out of politics. But the war in Iraq in 2003 reenergized Mr. Obama’s political ambitions.

In 2004, he was asked to give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.

President Obama: The audacity of hope; that is God’s greatest gift to us. The bedrock of this nation.

Jessica: With that speech, Barack Obama became a household name. A few months later, he was elected Senator of Illinois, only the third African-American U.S. senator since reconstruction. Then Barack Obama set his sights higher.

President Obama: I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America.

Jessica: In 2008, after a tough fight against Senator John McCain, Mr. Obama won the highest office…President of the United States, and became the nation’s first black president.

Jessica Kumari, Channel One News.


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