Served: January 20, 2009 – January 20, 2017
Born: August 4, 1961
Birthplace: Honolulu, HI
Occupations: Community organizer, lawyer, constitutional law professor, author
Political Party: Democratic
Spouse: Michelle Robinson
The First African-American President
Barack Obama is known for being the first African-American mixed-race president in U.S. history. In 2007, he ran in the Democratic primaries against Hillary Rodham Clinton, wife of former president Bill Clinton, before defeating Republican nominee John McCain in the general elections.
The 44th president is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and he practiced as a civil rights attorney in Chicago before becoming involved in politics.
Life on an Island
Obama is the only president to date to be born in Hawaii. He spent some of his early childhood in Indonesia with his mother and stepfather and then returned to Hawaii in 1971 to live with his maternal grandparents.
After high school, Obama left Hawaii and attended Occidental College, later transferring to Columbia University, where he graduated with a political science degree in 1983.
In 1985, Obama became director of the Developing Communities Project in Chicago, where he worked as a community organizer for three years. In 1988, he enrolled at Harvard Law School and graduated in 1991 with a J.D. magna cum laude.
Additionally, Obama worked as a University of Chicago Law School lecturer, nonprofit director, and civil rights attorney, as well as serving on various board of directors, before being elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1997.
Obama married Michelle Robinson in 1992, and they had two daughters.
Barack Obama’s Pets
MORE PETS! Check out our photo gallery of selected White House pets
In 2004, Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate; then, in 2007, he began a presidential campaign. January 2009 marked the beginning of Obama’s presidency.
Obama focused largely on domestic issues such as the Great Recession, which defined much of his presidency. He signed various pieces of economic stimulus legislation, including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Other legislation signed by Obama includes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (often called Obamacare); Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010; and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.
April 4th, 2011 Obama announced his intention to seek a second term as President. He won 332 electoral votes – well exceeding the required 270 – and 51% of the popular vote, securing his 2nd term. However, things did not go as smoothly for the Obamas during their 2nd term.
For example, a movement began among the conservative far right accusing Obama of not being a natural-born U.S. citizen. The State of Hawaii was asked to provide legal documentation, and in 2011 the state released his long-form birth certificate [PDF].
Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which took effect in 2014, was popular but not without flaws. While it unarguably helped millions, the fact that people were fined for lack of health insurance did not sit well with many Americans. Other issues with the ACA included tax hikes to pay for “Obamacare” and many small business owners cutting employees’ hours to avoid having to pay for costly insurance.
In late 2012, the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School pushed Obama to seek stricter regulations on guns. Some of the regulations did not sit well with Americans who firmly believed in the 2nd Amendment. Obama became increasingly unpopular with supporters of the 2nd Amendment, as well as those in law enforcement and their supporters due to his seemingly apathetic responses to officers who were killed in the line of duty. Obama also faced backlash from Americans over his late term early release/pardoned criminals and his ties to Islam.
During the tumultuous Presidential run between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Obama threw his weight behind Clinton, saying she would “blast through the glass ceiling.” Despite Obama’s support, Trump emerged the victor of the memorable 2016 race. Obama handed over the baton on January 20th, 2017 to President Donald Trump.
Did You Know…?
- Obama’s book Dreams From My Father, published in 1995, started as a book about race relations but eventually became a personal memoir.
- Obama is the first president to publicly support same-sex marriage. However, he did not do so until 2012, during his second term.
- Obama has been published in Parade Magazine. Before his presidency, the magazine published a letter that he wrote, intended for all the children of the world and dedicated to his daughters.
- Obama was the first sitting President in 88 years to visit Cuba, and the first sitting President to visit Japan. He made his historic visit to Cuba on March 20, 2016, and visited Japan later that same year, on May 27th.
- Obama was a smoker, but reportedly quit in 2010.