The life of Barack Obama

The path of the president-elect, from childhood to party leader

This 1960's photo shows Obama with his mother, Ann Dunham. Dunham met Obama's father, Barack Obama Sr. when both were students at the University of Hawaii at Manoa; they married in 1960.

Anonymous / Obama presidential Campaign

Barack Obama, 9, right, posed with his mother, his Indonesian step-father Lolo Soetoro, and his less than one-year-old sister Maya Soetoro in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1970.

Anonymous / Obama presidential Campaign

Obama's father, left, also named Barack Obama, left the family to study at Harvard when Barack was just two, returning only once. Obama wrote poignantly about this visit in his memoir, remembering the basketball his father gave him, the African records they danced to, the Dave Brubeck concert they attended. Obama, then 10, never saw his father again.


Barack Obama, second row center, in this 1977 yearbook photo of his Honolulu junior varsity basketball team, played forward and was dubbed "Barry O'Bomber." He favored a left-handed double pump shot. During his senior year, the varsity team captured the state championship.


Barack Obama's maternal grandparents, Stanley Armour Dunham and his wife Madelyn Payne Dunham, both natives of Kansas, attended Obama's 1979 high school graduation in Hawaii. His grandmother died Monday, Nov. 3, in Hawaii, a day before Obama was to stand election for the presidency. She was 86.

Anonymous / Obama presidential Campaign

Barack Obama and his bride Michelle Robinson, a fellow Harvard Law School graduate, on their wedding day Oct. 18, 1992, in Chicago, Illinois.


In 1995, Barack Obama visited with his step-grandmother, Sarah Ogwel Onyango, 83, who raised Obama's father Barack Obama Sr., outside of her house in Nyang'oma, in Western Kenya.

Newly-elected president of Harvard Law Review, law student, & former community program director Barack Obama.

Steve Liss / Time Life Pictures

After Harvard Law School, Barack Obama returned to Chicago, joined a small civil rights firm, ran a voter registration drive, and lectured on constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School.


Illinois State Senator and U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Obama leans over to kiss his daughter Sasha, 2, while wife Michelle looks on at Chicago's Salem Baptist Church in March of 2004.

Steve Matteo / AP

On July 27, 2004, Senate candidate Barack Obama, spoke to delegates during the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Some call it "The Speech", a 17-minute star-making turn. Obama walked on stage an unknown, and walked off as a star. Four months after the convention, Obama won the U.S. Senate seat in a landslide.

Kevork Djansezian / AP

On Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2004, the Illinois U.S. Senator-elect, holds his daughter Malia, 6, along with his wife Michelle, holding their daughter Sasha, 3, as they are covered in confetti after Obama, only the fifth black U.S. Senator to be elected in history, delivers his acceptance speech in Chicago.

M. Spencer Green / AP

As he said goodbye to his former colleagues at the State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Nov. 8, 2004, before heading off to Washington, Barack Obama, back to camera, got a hug from state Sen. James T. Meeks, while lawmakers gave him a standing ovation in the Illinois Senate.

Seth Perlman / AP

Senator Obama stands in an elevator after a May 10, 2005 meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images North America

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., left, speaks with 2008 presidential opponent Sen. Obama, during the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on Wednesday, July 19, 2006 in Washington.

Evan Vucci / AP

Sen. Obama visits a tent camp for people displaced by floods in Dire Dawa in eastern Ethiopia on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2006, promising the American military would continue to help the devastated region.

Les Neuhaus / AP

Enthusiastic supporters crowd in to be seen with and hear Obama, the featured speaker at Senator Tom Harkin's 29th-annual Steak Fry, Sept. 17, 2006, in Indianola, Iowa - a critical testing ground in the presidential nomination process.

Danny Wilcox Frazier/redux / Redux

Obama shakes a hand while signing copies of his new book "Audacity of Hope" at the Barnes & Noble bookstore October 18, 2006 in Skokie, Illinois.

Tim Boyle / Getty Images North America

Obama speaks at a Democratic Party election celebration in Manchester, New Hampshire on December 10, 2006 - his first visit to the political proving grounds state - stoking the growing buzz about a possible 2008 White House bid.

Brian Snyder / X90051

On Feb. 10, 2007, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., waves to spectators as he arrives to announce his candidacy for president of the United States at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill.

Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

Sen. Barack Obama greets supporters during his caucus night rally at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 3, 2008. Obama surged to victory in the first nominating contest, dealing a severe blow to Sen. Hillary Clinton's bid and proving to skeptics that he was a viable presidential candidate.

Saul Loeb / AFP

Obama bowling on March 29, 2008 an Altoona, Pa. Some observers questioned his ability to appeal to blue-collar voters. Exit polling in Pennsylvania showed that his rival Hillary Clinton won 55 percent of voters with incomes under $50,000 and 64 percent of those voters with only a high school diploma. At a fundraiser in San Francisco, Obama said small-town residents "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” out of bitterness over lost jobs, a comment which increased the perception that he was an elitist.

Stan Honda / AFP

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., arrives for a news conference in Winston-Salem N.C. on April 29, 2008 where he denounced his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. "I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened by the spectacle that we saw yesterday," Obama said. Wright had spoken at the National Press Clubn the previous day and repeated his assertion that the U.S. government created HIV to wage genocide against black people. "I believe our government is capable of doing anything," he said.

Jae C. Hong / AP

Sen. Barack Obama claimed the Democratic presidential nomination June 3, 2008 at a long-time-coming victory speech in St Paul, Minn. becoming the first major party African-American presidential candidate in U.S. history.

Chris Carlson / AP

President-elect Barack Obama, wife Michelle, and daughters Sasha and Malia take the stage at Chicago's Grant Park for his victory speech.

Timothy A. Clary / AFP