Jessica: He once called himself “a skinny kid with a funny name.” So how did that skinny kid, Barack Hussein Obama, make history as the first African-American President of the United States?
Take a look.
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.
“My father was a larger-than-life figure. My mother always spoke well of him, even though he wasn’t around.”
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’s where he met Michelle Robinson.
“Even though he had this funny name, his family was so much like mine.”
In 1992 they married and went on to have two daughters, 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.
After several years, state senator Obama ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000. He lost, badly, and considered dropping out of politics. But the war in Iraq in 2003 re-energized Mr. Obama’s political ambitions.
In 2004, he was asked to give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.
“The audacity of hope. That is God’s greatest gift to us. The bedrock of this nation.”
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.
“I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America.”
In 2008, after a tough fight against Senator John McCain, Mr. Obama won the highest office…“I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear…” President of the United States and became the nation’s first black president.
“Everybody say ‘cheese!’ Cheeeeese!”
Tonight President Obama will speak at the Democratic National Convention. He’s already won over most Democrats. Now, he’ll be trying to win over those undecided voters. And if you’d like to learn more about President Obama, you can head over to ChannelOne.com. And if you missed our coverage last week, you can learn more about his Republican rival Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan.
Well that does it for us from here. After the break, we’re back in the newsroom.
- What does the name Barack mean in Arabic?
- What is the president’s educational background?
- What re-energized the president’s political ambitions?
- What impact did the opportunity of delivering the keynote address in 2004 have on his career?
- What is the president’s political background?
- How does President Obama’s background compare to the background of Mitt Romney?