President Barack Obama‘s historic rise from community organizer to becoming the 44th President Of The United States will always be a noteworthy memory regardless of what side of the political aisle one stands on. As the first African-American to hold the position, the president has been met with challenges both large and small. And while Mr. Obama still maintains his dashing good looks, another year is marked in the birthday books as today is the president’s 52nd birthday.
Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to father, Kenya-born Barack Sr. and American mother, Ann Dunham. As a child, Obama’s father left his young family — who then moved to Seattle, Washington — to attend Harvard University, returning to his native Kenya in 1965. Obama’s mother married student Lolo Soetoro that same year, and they relocated to Seotoro’s native Indonesia where his half-sister, Maya, was born.
Because of unrest in Indonesia, at age 10, Barack was sent back to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents and he spent the rest of his formative years there. An excellent student and avid basketball player, Obama graduated from Punahou Academy in 1979 as an honor student. However, Obama struggled with his bi-racial identity and questioned himself all while experimenting with drugs in his so-called “choom gang.”
Obama’s collegiate career began at Occidental College in Los Angeles, and after a visit to his mother and sister in Indonesia, he transferred to Columbia University of New York in 1981 to study political science. In 1985, Obama was hired by Chicago community organization, Developing Communities Project (DCP), working in the city’s notorious South Side.
In 1988, Obama entered the prestigious Harvard Law School and began making history shortly after his arrival there. In his first year, Obama became the editor of the “Harvard Law Review” and became the publication’s president during his second year. As the first African-American president of the “Review,” Obama’s achievement made national headlines and catapulted him into the national spotlight, and also landed the young lawyer a book publishing deal.
After leaving Harvard with a J.D. and graduating magna cum laude in 1991, Obama returned to Chicago to work as a Visiting Law and Government Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School. After working on his first book, the memoir “Dreams From My Father,” Obama taught at the school as a lecturer for the next 12 years. The law professor also worked for a law firm in the city, working on civil rights matters and keeping connections with his community organization ties.
Obama met his future wife when he was still at Harvard. He would return home in the summers off during law school and worked in the law offices of Sidley Austin. Then known as Michelle Robinson, she served as Obama’s adviser during his internship. Shortly after, the couple began dating. The pair were married October 3, 1992 and settled in Chicago. The have two daughters, Malia and Sasha.
Obama’s political career began in 1996, after he was elected to the Illinois Senate, serving three terms. A failed bid to win a primary for a congressional seat for the U.S. House Of Representatives against incumbent Bobby Rush was a sound defeat but would open the doors for a senatorial bid. Obama worked with then-political consultant David Axelrod to craft his Senate campaign in 2002.
In 2004, Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate and resigned from his seat at the Illinois Senate. From there, Obama quickly ascended and gained a reputation of working across party lines. Obama was also instrumental in bringing technology into the forefront by creating a website with Republican Senator Tom Coburn that tracked federal spending, displaying a willingness to work for a transparent government.
In February 2007, Obama announced his plans to run for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Going up against popular senator and former first lady, Hillary Clinton, the battle was contentious but Obama eventually triumphed in June 2008. Backed by his party and his former primary opponents, Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden, would square off against Arizona Senator John McCain and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
Obama defeated McCain, thus becoming the 44th President Of The United States — the first African-American to do so. Although the historic moment overshadowed all, Obama inherited all the bad tidings left behind by his predecessor, George W. Bush. Two wars, an oppressive recession, and broken global ties because of Bush’s stiff foreign policies made it difficult for President Obama early on.
With an overhaul of American’s foreign affairs, the president’s first 100 days in office were not only heavily monitored but also highly scrutinized. Because of his relatively short political career compared to his contemporaries, many critics felt Obama took on too much too soon. Yet, showing a savvy behind his experience, Obama made strong moves and made good on one of his campaign’s main aims. In 2010, he signed into law the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”
Other triumphs include signing the Budget Control Act of 2011, which has become part of the recent conversation as Congress bandies over government spending and the pains felt nationwide via sequestration. Obama also repealed the hotly-contested “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military rule. Under the president’s instruction, wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden was captured and killed by elite special forces.
In early 2012, President Obama became unpopular in the public eye because of lack of job growth and the sagging economy, an issue that still plagues the president today. His opponents feel that his measures, such as “Obamacare,” has stripped the government of necessary funds for other important programs. Partisan infighting and an increasingly bold opposition from the Republican-led House of Representatives has also been a blockade in Obama’s policy aims as well.
Yet despite a reelection campaign that lacked at times and all the bad marks against him, President Obama earned a second term and defeated Republican hopeful Mitt Romney more soundly than predicted. The second term has had its bumps, but the president seems determined to protect the interest of the middle class, raise wages for low-income workers, cut down government spending and fortify the country’s infrastructure as well.
The idealism and hope that the president used as part of his first presidential campaign still exists in his speeches and political goals today. Despite what many may see as just posturing, the president seems to emit a genuine desire to right the country and not became a lame-duck president. For African-Americans and people across all racial and economic lines, Obama’s achievements still resonate deeply.
Happy Birthday, President Obama!