Biography of Barack Obama

Barack Obama is running for re-election in the 2012 presidential campaign. Read up on his background and qualifications as you're deciding for whom to vote.
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Elections (107)

Updated on: January 29, 2008
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Formative years & personal life

Formative Years

Obama was born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and American mother. His father was raised in a small village in Kenya where he herded goats until he earned a scholarship to study in America. After his parents divorced, his father returned to Kenya, and Obama was raised by his mother in both Hawaii and Jakarta, Indonesia. He later moved to New York City to attend Columbia University, where he earned his undergraduate degree.

Obama moved to Chicago after college and worked extensively in the inner city to improve living conditions and reduce the unemployment rate in high-crime neighborhoods. He decided to pursue his law degree, hoping he could help communities through law reform and politics. After receiving his degree from Harvard Law School, he returned to Chicago and practiced as a civil rights lawyer.

Personal Life

Obama is married to Michelle Obama, a Chicago native who also graduated from Harvard Law School. Barack and Michelle met in Chicago, where they both worked for the law firm Sidley and Austin. Michelle worked in corporate law for three years before pursuing a career in public service. She has worked for the city of Chicago, and she co-founded Public Allies, which helps young adults acquire skills to work in the public sector. In 2005 she was appointed vice president of community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Barack and Michelle have two daughters, Malia and Sasha.

Michelle Obama's main focus as First Lady has been to tackle the childhood obesity epidemic by promoting exercise and healthy eating.

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