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Making History: Barack Obama

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On August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii, Barack Hussein Obama II was born to Ann Dunham and Barack Obama I, and would eventually go on to be elected as the first African American president in American history.

Before the White House, young Obama lived in Indonesia with his mother and half sister, Maya. His father remained absent in his life until his death in 1982. After being sent to live with his maternal grandparents in Hawaii to better his education, Barack joined the basketball team at Punahou Academy and later graduated in 1979 with academic honors.

Since being one out of only three black students in his school, he spoke of the way he was viewed and how he felt growing up, saying, “I went into the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror with all my senses and limbs seemingly intact, looking as I had always looked, and wondered if something was wrong with me.”

After high school Obama then  graduated from Columbia University, and afterward decided to attend Harvard Law School. In 1990, at age 28, he became the first black president of the Harvard Law Review and later joined Sidley Austin as a summer associate. Here, he met his advisor and future wife Michelle Robinson who would go on to be First Lady of the United States.

Leading up to his presidency, the Obamas had two daughters after their marriage in 1992, Malia and Sasha, born in 1996 and 1998, respectively. Mr. Obama served as the senator of Illinois for seven years between 1997-2004. He then served in the United States Senate from 2005 until 2008 when he decided to run for the 2008 Presidential election.

During  his Presidential campaign against Republican nominee John McCain, Obama based his campaign on slogans such as, “Yes we can” and “Change we can believe in.” He and his running mate, Joe Biden, were elected as President and Vice President on November 4, 2008, having won the popular and electoral vote with over 69.4 million votes.

After 43 white men consecutively served as President before him, Barack Obama made history as being the first black President of the United States. At his historic inauguration, over 1.8 million people traveled to Washington D.C. to hear him speak. He was also the fastest person to reach one million twitter followers in a 24 hour period in May of 2015, only just becoming second to Caitlyn Jenner in June of 2015.

After also having won the 2012 election and serving eight long years in the White House, while also working to change healthcare for millions of Americans, Mr. Obama writes in his parting letter,“I’ll be right there with you every step of the way. And when the arc of progress seems slow, remember: America is not the project of any one person. The single most powerful word in our democracy is the word ‘We.’ ‘We the People.’ ‘We shall overcome.’ Yes, we can.”

It seems obvious to say that Mr. Obama’s presidency was controversial at times, as all presidencies may be, but it’s no doubt that he stands as a reminder of history and one step closer toward a more unified America.

 

Copyright © Cheyenne Prouty (2017) All Rights Reserved.

 

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