Barack Obama Poster, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross - PBS
DESIGN: Jed Dore

Barack Obama

1961-
Source: Iowa Caucus Victory Speech (2008)

Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States, embodies the country’s diversity, the progress of African Americans and the belief in the American dream. President Obama was born in Hawaii to scholar parents, a black father from Kenya and a white American mother from Kansas, who divorced when he was two years old. He spent most of his childhood in Hawaii being raised by his mother’s middle class parents. After graduating from Columbia University in New York City, he worked as a community organizer for three years in Chicago before entering Harvard Law School, where he first made history as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, which gained him national attention. From 1997 to 2004, he served as an Illinois State Senator, and from 2005 to 2008, as a U.S. Senator. Considered by detractors as too inexperienced for the presidency, in 2008 Obama defeated two opponents of great political clout—Hillary Clinton and John McCain—to win the presidential election. Barack Obama made history as the first black American president. He was re-elected in 2012, making him the first Democratic president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to twice win a majority of the country’s popular vote.

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The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross is a film by Kunhardt McGee Productions, THIRTEEN Productions LLC, Inkwell Films, in assocation with Ark Media.