Future President of the United States
Barack Obama (born August 4, 1961) is a U.S. Senator from Illinois. He is a member of the main Democratic Party. He has received international media coverage for his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, delivered while he was still an Illinois state senator.
His Early life
Barack Obama was born at the Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii to Harvard-educated economist Barack Obama, Sr., a native of Kenya, and S. Ann Dunham, of Kansas. Ms. Dunham is a distant descendant of Jefferson Davis, the first and only president of the Confederate States of America; she is also part Cherokee Indian.
His College experience and career
Upon finishing high school, Obama studied for two years at Occidental College in California, before transferring to Columbia University in New York City. There he majored in political science, with a specialization in international relations. Upon graduation, he moved to Chicago, where he took up community organizing in the Altgeld Gardens housing project on the city's South Side. While in Chicago, he joined the Trinity United Church of Christ.
Barack Obama and Politics
Illinois General Assembly
In 1996, Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate from the south side neighborhood of Hyde Park, in Chicago. He served as chairman of the Public Health and Welfare Committee when the Democrats regained control of the chamber. The Chicago Tribune called him "one of the General Assembly's most impressive members."
His United States Senate campaign
In 2004, Obama decided to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Peter Fitzgerald. In the Democratic primary, he trailed business tycoon Blair Hull and Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes. However, Hull was soon embroiled by allegations of domestic abuse. As Obama's name recognition rose, voters took a liking to the bright, charismatic senator. He won decisively in the March primary, dispatching the other six candidates easily, and winning more than 50 percent of the vote.
Obama was chosen to deliver a keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, and became the third African American to do so. (The first was Barbara Jordan, at the 1976 Democratic National Convention, and the second was Harold Ford, Jr. at the 2000 Democratic National Convention.)
Obama was sworn in as a Senator on January 5, 2005. He ranked 99th out of 100 Senators in terms of official seniority (greater seniority brings greater privileges in the Senate), ranking ahead of only new Democratic Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado. In his first few months in office, Obama drew praise by his perceived attempts to avoid the limelight and devote large amounts of effort to being a Senator; a Washington Post article spread an anecdote of Obama refusing an upgrade to first-class on a flight home. In March of 2005, Obama announced that he was forming his own PAC, a move not usually undertaken until several years into a politician's career.