Barack Hussein Obama (b. 4 August 1961) is the junior Senator from Illinois, elected to the United States Senate as a Democrat in 2004. He is currently a high profile candidate for the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States in the 2008 election. He is, at present, the only African American serving in the United States Senate.
Early Life and Education
Senator Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to Barack Obama, Sr. and Ann Dunham in 1961. In 1967 he moved to Jakarta, Indonesia with his mother and new stepfather. He attended an Indonesian Public School followed by a Catholic school until he returned with his mother to Hawaii. There he attended the Punahou School, a private preparatory school until 1979, the year of his graduation.
Obama continued his education at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California before graduating with his Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in New York, New York. After as a community organizer in New York City and Chicago, Illinois, Obama enrolled at Harvard Law School. He was the first African American editor of the Harvard Law Review and graduated magna cum laude with his J.D. in 1992.
Following law school, Obama continued his work as a community organizer in Chicago as Director of Illinois Project Vote. In 1993 he was hired as an associate at the Chicago law firm Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C. and began lecturing in Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School. He remains on the faculty on leave of absence through today. During this time he wrote his first book, Dreams from My Father, detailing his background, his youth, and his education. Dreams was published in 1995.
Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate for the first time in 1996 and served there for the next eight years. Following a failed campaign for the House of Representatives, Obama ran for the open Senate seat from Illinois in 2004. Obama rose to national prominence following his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He defeated his opponent, Alan Keyes, and was elected to the 109th Congress.
His voting record places him as the tenth-most Liberal member of the U. S. Senate. His composite liberal rating was 86 percent, just seven points behind Ted Kennedy. Among fellow Senate Democrats, he was further left than liberals like John Kerry, Dianne Feinstein, Charles Schumer, Russ Feingold, Carl Levin, Joseph Biden and Harry Reid. Senator Obama is a Democratic front-runner for the 2008 United States presidential election.
In late 2006, Obama's second book authored, The Audacity of Hope, was published. The book contains more of Senator Obama's personal story including the roles of both family and politics. Audacity has spent 23 weeks on the New York Times Nonfiction Best Sellers List.