How Barack Obama’s Cultural Influences Paved His Way Into The Presidency

President Obama announces the historic change in US Cuba policy (Doug Mills-Pool/Getty)

Obama’s TCK Upbringing

Though he is most widely known as our 44th President of The United States, Barack Hussein Obama II emerged from a more complex background. Obama was born August 4th, 1961 to a Kenyan father (Barack Obama Sr.) studying in the United States, and a white American mother (Anne Dunham) from Kansas.

Obama’s parents met at the University of Hawaii in a Russian language class in 1960 and were married less than a year later. When Obama was only two years old, his father left the family to study at Harvard University where he would graduate and later move back to Kenya.

When Obama’s father left, his mother was left to raise Obama on her own. Eventually, Anne remarried to another foreign student from Indonesia. Obama then would live with his mother, stepfather and half sister in Jakarta, Indonesia. During Obama’s time in Indonesia, he would attend two government-run schools where he was taught instruction in Islam and Catholic private schooling.

Self Portrait of Barack Obama
Official portrait of President-elect Barack Obama. Digital photograph by photographer Pete Souza, 2009. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division. https://www.loc.gov/item/2010647151/

I was raised as an Indonesian child and a Hawaiian child and as a black child and as a white child,” Obama later recalled. “And so what I benefited from is a multiplicity of cultures that all fed me.

Barack Obama, https://millercenter.org/president/obama/life-before-the-presidency

Obama’s Ascent Into Politics

Feb. 17, 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama, accompanied by members of Congress and middle school children, waves as he talks on the phone from the Roosevelt Room of the White House to astronauts on the International Space Station.

With Anne’s growing concern for Obama’s education, she moved him back to Hawaii where he would attend and graduate from Punahou, a prestigious preparatory school. Upon graduating, Obama found himself attending Columbia University in New York City. Obama was gifted in his academics and was pushed to further his studies at Harvard University, where he became the first African American to serve as president of the Harvard Law Review.

To be black was to be the beneficiary of a great inheritance, a special destiny, glorious burdens that only we were strong enough to bear

 Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Obama’s success at Harvard would help pave his way toward a successful career in politics. After graduating from Harvard, Obama embarks on his first political campaign, running for Illinois legislature, a fully Republican Senate.

In 2003, Obama runs for U.S. Senate. In 2004, Obama wins the primary with 52% of the vote and delivers his famous Democratic National Convention address which would eventually inaugurate him into presidency.

In 2009, Obama is officially inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States. Impressively, within his first 100 days in office, Obama expands health care insurance for children and and provides legal protection for women seeking equal pay (Gill, 2019). Obama is awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for all that he accomplished in such a short time. President Obama was our President for two terms, lasting until 2017, when he delivered his farewell address in Chicago.

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