Barack Obama went from being a virtual unknown in 2004 to being the forerunning Democratic candidate for President in 2008.
He was the third African-American to deliver a keynote address at a Democratic National Convention when he took the stage at the 2004 convention in Boston, MA. A few months later, the former law professor at the University of Chicago became the fifth African-American US senator in history, winning with a landslide 70% of the vote.
Obama was born August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, HI. His father, an economist, was born in Kenya and his mother was born in Kansas. At the time of Obama's birth, both his parents were students at the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii. When Obama was two years old, the couple was divorced and Ann Obama then married another East-West Center student from Indonesia. The family moved to Jakarta, where Obama's half-sister Maya was born (another half-sister, the daughter of Obama's father by a later marriage, lives in Nairobi).
Obama was raised, mostly in Hawaii, by his late mother and grandparents. He graduated from Columbia University in New York and received his law degree, graduating magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School. He became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Reviw and later worked as a civil rights lawyer and as a community organizer in New York and Chicago. Obama was elected to the Illinois state senate in 1997, where he served as chairman of the Public Health and Welfare Committee. He is married and the father of two daughters.
On February 10, 2007, Obama entered the race for President of the United States. The competition was narrowed down fairly quickly to be a race between Obama, the first serious African American candidate, and Hillary Clinton, the first serious woman candidate for US president.
After earning his degree in 1983, however, Obama responded with activist commitment instead of hedonistic escapism. He wrote to community service organizations all over the United States asking what he could do to help, and he signed on with the one group that replied, a church-based Chicago group doing neighborhood work on the city's economically reeling South Side. For three years, Obama was a community organizer a tough job, but one in which he notched accomplishments ranging from job-training programs to a successful attempt to improve city services at the Altgeld Gardens housing project. The biracial outsider gathered with black Chicagoans at a South Side barbershop that he continued to patronize even after he became famous.
Obama applied to Harvard Law School "to learn power's currency," he wrote in his autobiography. His academic brilliance flowered fully and propelled him to the presidency of the prestigious Harvard Law Review in 1990, making him the first African American to hold the post, and to a magna cum laude graduation in 1991. One of his teachers was famed litigator Laurence Tribe, who told Time that "I've known Senators, Presidents. I've never known anyone with what seems to me more raw political talent." Back in Chicago for a summer internship, he met his wife Michelle, an attorney and South Side native who was assigned to supervise him. The couple has two daughters, Malia Ann and Natasha (Sasha).
Obama passed up job offers from Chicago's top law firms to practice civil rights law with a small public-interest law office and to lecture at the University of Chicago, holding the latter position until he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004. He jumped into politics by chairing a voter-registration drive that helped carry Illinois for Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton in 1992, and his political ambitions became clearer when he turned down a chance to apply for a tenure-rack University of Chicago professorship. When an Illinois state senate seat in his home South Side district came open in 1996, he ran and was elected. In the Illinois senate Obama was noted for legislation to curb racial profiling and for a bill that mandated the videotaping of police interrogations carried out in death-penalty cases.
Despite his varied background, Obama identified himself as black. "When I'm catching a cab in Manhattan they don't say, there's a mixed-race guy, I'll go pick him up," he pointed out to Ebony writer Joy Bennett Kinnon. "Or if I was an armed robber and they flashed my face on television, they'd have no problem labeling me as a black man. So if that's my identity when something bad happens, then that's my identity when something good happens as well." But when Obama ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2000 Democratic primary against entrenched South-Side congressman Bobby Rush, a former Black Panther, he suffered from a perception that he was an exotic, elite outsider and was trounced by a two-to-one margin.
Is Ethicity Ending in America?
History takes the slow boat and the long way out. Indeed, to the extent that the South has grown increasingly hostile to Democrats for more than a generation, it was the party's positions on race and civil rights that made it so unpalatable to so many Southern whites. So how much has the country changed? This is the question of the moment as we watch the mutations in our national racial DNA triggered by Barack Obama's presidential campaign. Obama, we are reminded constantly, is a singular political talent.
These deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close. The poll suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004about 2.5 percentage points. More than a third of all white Democrats and independents voters Obama can't win the full flowering of a strain of up-tempo, non-grievance, American-Dream-In-Color politics.
There is an AP-Yahoo News poll conducted with Stanford University showing that one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks many calling them "lazy," "violent" or responsible for their own troubles. White House without agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks, according to the survey, and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don't have such views.
However, the coming election in United States has a lot to answer if ethicity would ever end. But frankly speaking it is progress. Obama has been the only black ever rich the final stage of American Presidential Aspirant, which is a great plus in American society.