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The Life and Legal Career of President Barack Obama
by Mary Waldron
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<<Many people may not realize it, but junior United States Senator from Illinois and current Democratic front-runner in the 2008 U.S. presidential election Barack Obama is actually an attorney. Obama's background includes community organizing, university lecturing, and practicing as a civil rights attorney.
Obama grew up in Hawaii and lived in Jakarta, Indonesia, for four years before he returned to Hawaii to finish high school. After graduating from high school, Obama moved to California and attended Occidental College for two years.
Obama next went on to continue his education in New York City, transferring to Columbia University to study political science with an emphasis in international relations. Obama earned his bachelor's degree in 1983, and he quickly got active in the business world.
Upon college graduation Obama went to work for Business International Corporation and the New York Public Interest Research Group. Two years later he picked up and moved to Chicago, where he worked as a community organizer.
Within the next couple of years, Obama decided to return to college to get a higher degree in law. He chose to get his law degree at Harvard Law School, entering in 1988.
Obama excelled at Harvard Law and was elected the president of the Harvard Law Review. Little did he know that he was making history. The New York Times reported that Obama was the "first black president in its 104-year history."
In 1991 Obama graduated with his J.D. magna cum laude. Immediately after finishing law school, Obama jetted back to Chicago to head a voter registration drive. He was also offered a book deal, so he soon began to write his first book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.
In Dreams from My Father, a memoir, Obama discusses his journey through life and his struggle with racial identity, as his mother was a Caucasian American and his father was a Kenyan man. Obama also talks about his relationship with his father, who left early in his life, returning to his homeland. Obama discusses traveling to Africa, even after his father's death, to find closure. The book was released in 1995.
Next, Obama got started on his career in the legal industry. Obama accepted an associate attorney position with Illinois civil litigation law firm Miner, Barnhill & Galland in 1993. He remained at that law firm for three years. During his stay at the law firm, staying true to his passions, Obama represented a variety of community organizers, discrimination claims, and voting rights cases.
In 1993 Obama also began working as a constitutional law lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. He continued lecturing until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004.
Obama was first elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996 and was reelected in 1998 and 2002. In 2003 Obama became the chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee. He served in the Illinois Senate for a total of eight years.
Obama ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004 against Republican Alan Keyes. Some of the issues they debated were stem cell research, abortion, gun control, school vouchers, and tax cuts. Obama was elected by a large margin, becoming the third African American since Reconstruction to be elected to the U.S. Senate.
During his time in the U.S. Senate, Obama co-sponsored bipartisan legislation for issues such as controlling conventional weapons and promotion of greater public accountability in the use of federal funding.
In February 2007 Obama announced his presidential campaign. He is now up against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. Some of the issues Clinton and Obama have debated are the Iraq War, increasing energy independence, and providing universal healthcare.
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