(From Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia)

Barack Obama

Barack Obama, b. Honolulu, Aug. 4, 1961, was sworn in as a Democratic U.S. senator from Illinois on Jan. 4, 2005. He was the fifth African American to serve in the Senate and the third to be popularly elected. Just months before joining the Senate, Obama made national headlines by delivering a well-received, keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention.

On Feb. 10, 2007, before the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., where Abraham Lincoln began his political career, Obama announced that he would seek the presidency in 2008. The Illinois Democrat acknowledged that he had not been in Washington long but said that he had "been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change." Obama finished first in several early primaries, and he was soon locked in a battle with Sen. Hillary Clinton for the party's nomination. An early and vocal critic of the Iraq War<, Obama's presidential campaign has trumpeted that stance as well as the need for government reform.

Obama’s father, Barack Obama, Sr., was from Kenya; his mother, Ann Dunham, was from Kansas. The couple divorced when the future senator was six years old. After his mother married an Indonesian businessman, he lived in Jakarta, Indonesia, for a time. He later returned to Hawaii, lived with his grandparents, and attended school there. After receiving a degree in political science from Columbia University in 1983, Obama moved to Chicago and worked as a community organizer. He obtained a law degree from Harvard University in 1991. He was the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review. He subsequently worked as a civil rights lawyer in Chicago. His political career started as a member of the Illinois State Senate (1997–2004). In the 110th Congress, which convened in January 2007, Obama was serving on the Committee on Foreign Relations; the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Obama's charismatic speaking style and his willingness to rise above partisan politics have made him a widely popular figure. His political work has focused on progressive causes such as poverty and education.

Obama is the author of the best-selling Dreams from My Father (1995) and The Audacity of Hope (2006). He also has been a lecturer on constitutional law at the University of Chicago.


Mendell, David Obama: From Promise to Power(2007)