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Barack Obama's Bio
In November 2004, Barack Obama was elected to the United States Senate, becoming the junior Senator from the State of Illinois.
Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to a Kenyan-born father and a Kansas-born mother. His parents met while both were attending the University of Hawaii, where his father was enrolled as a foreign student.
When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced and his father returned to Kenya. His mother married an Indonesian oil manager, and moved to Jakarta with Obama when he was six years old. According to Scott Turow's March 2004 Salon.com piece, Obama spent "two years in a Muslim school, then two more in a Catholic school" in Jakarta. At age 10 he was sent back to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents so that he could attend the highly-regarded non-sectarian private Punahou School; he entered Punahou in fifth grade and went through high school, graduating in 1979.
After high school, Obama studied for two years at Occidental College in California, before transferring to Columbia University, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations. Upon graduating in 1983, Obama worked for one year at Business International Corporation before moving to Chicago and taking a job with a non-profit organization helping local churches organize job training programs for residents of poor neighborhoods.
Obama then left Chicago to study at Harvard Law School. He was elected president of the Harvard Law Review, and obtained his Juris Doctor degree, magna cum laude in 1991. On returning to Chicago, Obama worked for the civil rights law firm Miner, Barnhill & Galland, and taught Constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School.
In 1996, Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate from the 13th District in the south side neighborhood of Hyde Park, in Chicago. In January 2003, Senator Obama was named chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Near the end of his tenure as a State Senator, in a 2004 Business Week column, Richard S. Dunham described Obama as having earned a reputation as "an innovative legislator who can cross party lines and build coalitions."
Obama fully entered the national consciousness with his address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, where his speech focused on the need for national unity:
"The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes we got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America."
In 2004, Obama ran for the open U.S. Senate seat vacated by Peter Fitzgerald. He went on to capture a majority of votes in a Democratic primary in a field of three, and then defeated Alan Keyes in the general election by a margin of 43%, which was one of the most one-sided results ever for a statewide Illinois race.
Since his election to the United States Senate, Senator Obama has been named one of "the world's most influential people" by Time magazine, and as one of "10 people who could change the world" by the British Journal the New Statesman. In December of 2006, Senator Obama's second book, "The Audacity of Hope" reached #1 on the New York Times' best seller list.