His steps to history

obama his life and times

November 09, 2008

EARLY LIFE

BIRACIAL BACKGROUND: Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Aug. 4, 1961. His father, Barack Obama Sr., was a student from Kenya who herded goats as a child. His mother, Ann Dunham of Wichita, Kan., was a student at the University of Hawaii and the daughter of a furniture salesman, She married Obama Sr. unaware that he was already married to a woman in Kenya, with whom he had two children. Two years later, the couple divorced.

TO INDONESIA: Dunham married an Indonesian student named Lolo Soetero, and in 1967, when Barack was 6, the family moved to Jakarta. He was 9 when his half-sister, Maya Soetero-Ng, was born. In 1971, Dunham sent Barack back to Honolulu to live with his grandparents, and in 1972 she left her husband and moved back to Hawaii with Maya. When Barack was in the fifth grade, his father came to visit him briefly -- their frist meeting since he was a toddler.

TO COLLEGE: Obama played basketball in high school, graduated with honors in 1979 and enrolled at Occidental College in Los Angeles. There he befriended black students but had difficulty seeing himself as one of them. After two years, he transferred to Columbia University, where he started running three miles a day and immersed himself in his studies.

EARLY CAREER

COMMUNITY ORGANIZER: Obama graduated in 1983 with a degree in political science, and in 1985 he moved to Chicago and worked as a community organizer. Despite his atheistic upbringing, he joined the Trinity United Church of Christ. In 1988, he traveled to Kenya to meet his grandmother.

ON TO POLITICS: In 1996, Obama ran for and won an Illinois state Senate seat representing Chicago's South Side neighborhood of Hyde Park. During his eight years in the state Senate, he would introduce more than 20 successful pieces of legislation.

HARVARD STANDOUT: In fall 1988, he enrolled at Harvard Law School. The following summer, he worked as an intern at chicago law firm Sidley & Austin, where he met and began dating Michelle Robinson, a Harvard Law grad and first-year associate. In 1990, Obama was elected president of the Harvard Law Review, the first black man to hold the prestigious post. In 1991, he graduated magna cum laude and returned to Chicago. He married Michelle in 1992 and went to work for a Chicago law firm, while also lecturing on constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School and directing a voter outreach program.

SMALL FAILURE, BIG SUCCESS

RISING STAR: Obama was chosen to give the keynote address on July 27, 2004, at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, where he said, "There is not a black America and white America, and Latino America, and Asian America, there is the United States of America."

ELECTION 2008

PRESIDENTIAL RUN: Obama announced his run for the presidency in February 2007 at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill. He proved to be a standout at fundraising, and he won the nation's firist electoral contest, in Iowa. He went on to win 13 out of 22 states Feb. 5, Super Tuesday. His neck-and-neck delegate race with Sen. Hillary Clinton made this year's primary contest one of the closest in history. Controversy dogged Obama when the medial broadcast inflammatory quotes from his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. He was formally nominated for president at the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 27. On Tuesday, Nov. 4, Barack Obama was elected the 44th U.S. president.

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