On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States. He is the first African American president, and one of the youngest presidents ever elected. He has a wife, Michelle, and two daughters, Malia, and Sasha.
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Barack Obama was born August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. His father came to America from Kenya, which is a country in Africa. His parents, Ann and Barack, met when they were students at the University of Hawaii. Since Barack had the same name as his father, young Barack went by the nickname “Barry”.
After his dad finished college, he went back to Kenya, leaving his mother to take care of Barry. In 1967, when Barry was six years old, his mother married a student from Indonesia and they moved to Indonesia with him. They had many pets, including baby crocodiles and a gibbon, which is a type of monkey.
While they were in Indonesia, his mother had another baby. Her name was Maya. Right after she was born, Barry’s mother got divorced, and Barry, his mother, and his new baby sister moved back to Hawaii.
Soon, Barry’s mother had to go back to Indonesia to work. Her job was studying how farmers lived and how their lives could be made better. When she went away, Barry lived with his grandparents. He called them Gramps and Toot, and he was very close with them and his sister. Growing up, Barry enjoyed spending time on the beach, fishing and bodysurfing. He was a really good student. He went to an expensive private school even though his family didn’t have much money to pay for it. His family felt that the best thing they could do for Barry was to give him a good education, so they worked hard to pay for his school. Barry earned good grades and played on his high school basketball team. He loved playing basketball as a kid.
In 1979, after he finished high school, Barry went to college in Los Angeles, California. There, he started to learn about his African roots and decided to use his African name, Barack. After two years in L.A., he transferred to a University in New York City. He studied politics.
After college, he moved to Chicago where he worked to help poor people in his city. He travelled to Africa to meet his grandmother and cousins for the first time. He went back many times over the years to visit with his family and learn about where he came from. At work, he met a lawyer named Michelle Robinson. They worked together in a big law firm. Then he left Chicago to go to Harvard Law School in Cambridge. He did very well in law school.
After he was done with school, Barack moved back to Chicago and in 1992 he married Michelle. He worked as a lawyer, helping poor people who had been treated unfairly. He worked hard to get the people he helped to register to vote.
He convinced many people that their votes were important, and helped them feel like they could make a difference. Barack and Michelle had two daughters, Malia (born in 1998) and Sasha (born in 2001). Malia and Sasha have lived in Chicago their whole life, even when their father was working in Washington, as a Senator. They played soccer and went to school, just like regular kids
Barack liked working as a lawyer, but he felt like he could do more. In 1996, he became a State Senator, representing his neighbourhoods. After three years working for his community in the Illinois Senate, in 2000 he decided to run for Congress, to represent his state. He lost the election badly, but he learned a lot of important lessons on how to run a campaign.
Armed with a lot of information on how to do a better job campaigning, and with new friends at his side, he ran against two other candidates to be the State Senator. In November of 2004 he won the race and became a U.S. Senator, representing his home state of Illinois.
In 2004, Barack gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention. He talked about hope, and working together and making America a better place. Many people were inspired by his speech and tried to convince him to run for President in the next election. He took a long time to think about it. He visited his family in Africa and he wrote a book about his ideas and opinions called “The Audacity of Hope” which came out in October 2006.
On February 11, 2007, Barack Obama announced that he would run for President of the United States in 2008. His first challenge was to win the nomination from his political party, the Democratic Party. There were eight people competing for one spot as the Democratic nominee, but little by little six other politicians dropped out, leaving only Barack and his main rival, Senator Hillary Clinton from New York. It was the first time that either a woman or a black man had come so far in an American presidential race. For the first time in American history, there were no white men competing for a spot on a major party’s ticket. Both candidates were very proud that they had made it so far in the race.
Hillary Clinton, Barack’s main competition, is a former First Lady. She is married to former President Bill Clinton. Many people felt that she had the most experience for the job. Barack had to work very hard to win over voters who weren’t sure who they wanted to support.
Many people thought Barack didn’t have enough experience. Others thought he was too young. But a lot of people liked his ideas about bringing people together and changing America. Barack travelled all across the country to tell his story and win supporters. After long hard months, Barack won his party’s support.
His next big job was to beat John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate. Barack had to go back across the country, this time trying to convince people that he was going to be a better president than John McCain.
Barack and his team could not visit every family in the country personally, so they decided to make a television program to talk directly to voters. He bought time on seven TV stations, which played his commercial all over the country all at the same time. Many people watched it, and many people liked it.
Winning the White House
When the results came in, 67 million people voted for Barack and 58 million voted for John McCain. Barack won 365 electoral votes and John McCain won 173 votes. At least 270 electoral votes are needed to become President of the United States.
Barack Obama won the election. After he won, Barack gave a speech that was shown on televisions around the country and around the world. He began his speech with these words:
“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our Founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”
The people in the park cheered. Many people in all parts of the country, as well as the world, were happy to have witnessed this moment in American history. Barack continued his speech by saying that even though being President is not easy, he would do his best for the country and for the American people while he is President.
Fun Facts about Barack Obama
- The name Barack means “blessing from God”
- He is left-handed.
- According to Blender magazine, his favourite music includes artists like The Fugees, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and Kanye West.
- He won a Grammy award for the audio recording of his book Dreams from My Father.
- He has authored three very successful books.
- According to his official Face book profile, his favourite TV show is Sport centre.
- When he was a child, he wanted to become an architect.
- He collects comic books.
- When he lived in Indonesia, he had two baby crocodiles, chickens, ducks and a gibbon named Tata as his pets.
- He loves to cook chilli.
- According to the Associated Press, his least favourite food is beetroot.
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