Barack Hussein Obama II (bəˈrɑːk huːˈseɪn oʊˈbɑːmə/ bə-RAHK hoo-SAYN oh-BAH-mə; born August 4, 1961) is the 44th and current President of the United States.
He is the first African American to hold the office.
Obama previously served as the junior United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned after his election to the presidency in November 2008.
Originally from Hawaii, Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the president of the Harvard Law Review.
He was a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree. He worked as a civil rights attorney in Chicago and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004.
Obama served three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he ran for United States Senate in 2004. Several events brought him to national attention during the campaign, including his victory in the March 2004 Democratic primary and his prime-time televised keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004.
He won election to the U.S. Senate in November 2004.
His presidential campaign began in February 2007, and after a close campaign in the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries against Hillary Rodham Clinton, he won his party’s nomination. In the 2008 general election, he defeated Republican nominee John McCain and was inaugurated as president on January 20, 2009.
As president, Obama signed economic stimulus legislation in the form of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in February 2009.
The U.S. economy has grown for the past two successive fiscal quarters after several quarters of a severe economic recession, although unemployment remains high. On October 8, 2009, Obama was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
In March 2010, Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law, the first comprehensive health care reform legislation in decades.
Early life and career
Barack Obama was born at Kapi’olani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States, to Stanley Ann Dunham, an American of predominantly English descent from Wichita, Kansas, and Barack Obama, Sr., a Luo from Nyang’oma Kogelo, Nyanza Province, Kenya Colony.
Obama is the first President to have been born in Hawaii.
Obama’s parents met in 1960 in a Russian language class at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, where his father was a foreign student on scholarship.
The couple married on February 2, 1961, and Barack was born later that year.
His parents separated when he was two years old and they divorced in 1964.
Obama Sr. remarried and returned to Kenya, visiting Barack in Hawaii only once, in 1971.
He died in an automobile accident in 1982.
After her divorce, Dunham married Indonesian student Lolo Soetoro, who was attending college in Hawaii. When Suharto, a military leader in Soetoro’s home country, came to power in 1967, all Indonesian students studying abroad were recalled, and the family moved to the island nation.
They lived in the Menteng area of Jakarta.
From ages six to ten, Obama attended local schools in Jakarta, including Besuki Public School and St. Francis of Assisi School.
As a child in Indonesia Obama was known by some as Barry Soetoro, combining the nickname his family gave him with the surname of his step-father.
In 1971, Obama returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents, Madelyn and Stanley Armour Dunham, and attended Punahou School, a private college preparatory school, from the fifth grade until his graduation from high school in 1979.
Obama’s mother returned to Hawaii in 1972, remaining there until 1977 when she relocated to Indonesia to work as an anthropological field worker.
She finally returned to Hawaii in 1994 and lived there for one year before dying of ovarian cancer.
Barack Obama and half-sister Maya Soetoro, with their mother Ann Dunham and grandfather Stanley Dunham, in Hawaii (early 1970s)
Of his early childhood, Obama recalled, “That my father looked nothing like the people around me—that he was black as pitch, my mother white as milk—barely registered in my mind.”
He described his struggles as a young adult to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage. Reflecting later on his formative years in Honolulu, Obama wrote:
“The opportunity that Hawaii offered—to experience a variety of cultures in a climate of mutual respect—became an integral part of my world view, and a basis for the values that I hold most dear.”
Obama has also written and talked about using alcohol, marijuana and cocaine during his teenage years to “push questions of who I was out of my mind”.
At the 2008 Civil Forum on the Presidency, Obama identified his high-school drug use as his “greatest moral failure.”
Following high school, Obama moved to Los Angeles in 1979 to attend Occidental College.
After two years he transferred in 1981 to Columbia University in New York City, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations and graduated with a B.A. in 1983.
He worked for a year at the Business International Corporation, then at the New York Public Interest Research Group.