Meet the Candidate – A Brief Background on Barack Obama

By admin ~ January 7th, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

When voting for a presidential candidate, it’s critical to know as much as possible about that candidate. Understanding who they are and where they’ve come from will give you a better idea of where they are going … and where they hope to take the country.

The trouble is that most information about the candidates falls into one of two categories — exaggerations from their supporters, and smears from their detractors. This makes it hard to find unbiased information about the person’s past.

In the case of Barack Obama, we hope to fill this void by providing some basic facts and background information about the presidential hopeful.

Birth and Early Childhood

Barack was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1961. His parents met while attending the University of Hawaii. His father was a former economist with the finance ministry in Kenya, and attended the University of Hawaii on scholarship. His mother was an anthropologist born in the United States.

Barack’s mother and father separated when he was two. She eventually remarried and took the family to Indonesia (her new husband was from that country). Barack went to school in Jakarta (the capital) until he was ten years old, at which time he moved back to Hawaii to live with his grandparents.

Educational Background

Barack attended Punahou School in Hawaii and graduated in 1979. After graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to attend Occidental Collage (a small, private, coed liberal arts college). After two years at Occidental, he transferred to Columbia University in New York City and majored in political science. He graduated from Columbia in 1983 and moved to Chicago.

Civic Duty and First Exposure to Politics

In Chicago he worked at the Developing Communities Project, a church-based community improvement organization located in Chicago’s south side. Obama often cites his work with this grassroots organization as the start of his political development. It also helped to shape his current political views and work ethic.

Education Revisited and a Historic First

After several years with the DCP organization, Obama advanced his education by attending Harvard Law School. He became the editor of the Harvard Law Review and eventually became the first black president of the prestigious legal journal. He graduated from Harvard Law with honors in 1991.

The Political Path Begins

After graduating from Harvard Law School, Barack returned to Chicago and (in 1993) joined the law firm of Davis, Miner, Barnhill and Galland. He specialized in civil rights law and neighborhood economic development. He also taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for 12 years.

Obama was very active in political and civic affairs in Chicago, and in 1996 he was elected to the Illinois State Senate. He held assignments in many committees during his first and second terms in the senate, including co-chairman of the bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

He eventually sponsored a civil rights law that monitored racial profiling and made Illinois the first state to mandate videotaping of homicide interrogations (to prevent violations of civil rights).

In 2005, he accompanied Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ill.) on a trip to Russia. It was a mission to renew anti-proliferation efforts between multiple nations — i.e., efforts to find and secure nuclear weapons that have spread around the world.

In February 2007, Barack Obama stood before the historic capitol building in Springfield, Illinois and announced that he would run for president.

Over the years, he has been an active writer. He is the author of two best-selling books: Dreams from My Father in 1995, and The Audacity of Hope in 2006.

A Common Misconception

A Newsweek poll found that 12 percent of voters think Obama is a Muslim. Many of his detractors have latched onto this, spreading false rumors that he is a radical / extremist Muslim. In truth, he is a Christian. His father was an atheist who [in Barack’s words] thought religion was “mumbo jumbo.” His mother was interested in many of the world’s religions but was an agnostic [again according to Obama].

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