On this day in history, January 20, 2009, Barack Obama became the first African American president. He is an American politician who is the 44th and current President of the United States. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and growing up in the Pacific, Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review. He was a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree, and afterward he worked as a civil rights attorney and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Obama ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for the United States House of Representatives in 2000 against incumbent Bobby Rush while representing the 13th District for three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. During that year, Obama received national attention with his March primary win in the U.S. Senate campaign, his July keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, and his November election to the Senate. In 2008, Obama was nominated for president, a year after his campaign began and after a close primary campaign against Hillary Clinton. He became president-elect after defeating Republican nominee John McCain in the general election, and was inaugurated on January 20. Nine months later, Obama was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prizelaureate.

During his first two years in office, Obama signed more landmark legislation than any Democratic president since the Great Society. Main reforms were the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare”; the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act; and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 served as economic stimulus amidst the Great Recession, but the GOP regained control of the House of Representatives in 2011. After a lengthy debate over the national debt limit, Obama signed the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. In foreign policy, Obama increased U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, reduced nuclear weapons with the U.S.-Russian New START treaty, and ended military involvement in the Iraq War. He ordered military involvement in Libya in opposition to Muammar Gaddafi, and the military operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.

In 2013, Obama was sworn in for a second term after being re-elected over Mitt Romney in November 2012. During his second term, Obama promoted greater inclusiveness for LGBT Americans, with his administration filing briefs that urged the Supreme Court to strike down same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional (United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges). Obama also advocated gun control in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. In foreign policy, Obama ordered military intervention in Iraq in response to gains made by ISIL after the 2011 withdrawal from Iraq, continued the process of ending U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, promoted discussions that led to the 2015 Paris Agreement on global climate change, brokered a nuclear deal with Iran, and normalized U.S. relations with Cuba.


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