The first concentrated wave of baby Baracks was born in 2008, making President Barack Obama — their namesake — the only POTUS these young men have ever known.
Hopeful parents named their sons for the first black president, whose first name is a variation of the Hebrew name Baruch, which means “blessed” in English. The Barack name trend peaked in 2009 with 69 baby Baracks, according to the Social Security Administration. Many used Barack as a middle name.
Will it ever be as popular as Thomas or Liam? Not quite yet, but one thing is for sure: Given Obama’s historical significance, his first name is about as American as it gets.
Barak Troutman’s parents were on the Barack bandwagon long before the presidency. Now 10, the self-proclaimed future astronaut is named for both the young Chicago senator who ran against an elder statesman, Bobby Rush, for a Congressional seat and he is also named for his grandfather, Benjamin. Barak’s dad blended the two names together, but family and teachers simply call him Barak.
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“In the year 2000, my husband and I had a chance to hear Barack Obama speak at the office of then Alderman Arenda Troutman,” says Linda Troutman, Barak’s mother. “He was very charismatic. I wondered how a Black guy with such a different name could run against the 'Mighty' Congressman Bobby Rush. When I heard him speak, I understood. I told my husband then that this guy was going to do big things.”
The couple knew that if they ever had a son, his name would include the name Barack.
The ten-year-old just ran for class president and wrote a campaign speech all by himself. “We will be organized,” says Barack Troutman, 10, in a very determined manner. “We will work even harder each day… I have 100 percent faith in this class.”
Troutman thinks this go get it attitude will take her son far.
“[My husband] named our son Barakbanyahman which translates as 'blessed son of my right hand,” says Troutman. “President Barack Obama is definitely blessed, and so is my son.”
This seven-year-old bubble of sunshine is already a budding triathlete. He likes to swim, bike and compete. He has already tried his hand at basketball, soccer and baseball. He’s great at math and enjoys tinkering with things. He’s also in the second grade.
“It was 2008 and my husband and I were getting re-energized with politics and all of the primaries,” says Martina Davis Taylor, 39. “When Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination we were thinking, ‘ok. Let’s go ahead and we’re gonna settle in on this name.’ I started looking stuff up and found that Barack means blessed and Amari means eternal. So, eternal blessings.”
The baby was named well before he was born in March 2009. “We saved all the newspaper clippings so he could read about how important he was, to have won the Democratic nomination that year,” says David Taylor, a high school algebra teacher. “We had the birth all planned out, to be natural, but then I wound up with an emergency C-section. They took him out and he wasn’t breathing. It seemed like a lifetime and we were just in panic mode and finally we heard him cry. I said, ‘oh God, thank you.’ That was not an easy way for him to get here at all.”
Jordan Barack Treasure made national news when he was the focus of a New York newspaper article about babies named for President Obama. To this day, his mom says, he gets a kick out of sharing such a famous name.
“He’s eight years old and it’s two terms so all he knows is President Obama,” says Stephanie Treasure, 37, who is a secretary in the infant and baby unit for a New York hospital. “When he found out that we watched the election recently and he saw that Trump won he was devastated, but we told him that Obama did his two terms and the time is up.”
Jordan Barack is learning Mandarin, is an ace at math, likes red snapper and beef kidney and is a fan of seafood restaurants. He just doesn’t have a taste for hamburgers, fries and hotdogs, the more traditional foods of American youths. He wants to be both a dentist and an animator. And he likes watching YouTube more than watching regular old TV. He’s “kind of a nerd.” And that’s a plus in his book.
He has tremendous pride in his name and it also provides some fun with friends at school. “He told his classmates he was in the newspaper and they don’t believe him so they’ll google it to see that article eight years ago,” says Treasure. “It’s cute. He swears he’s a celebrity.”
Adrienne Samuels Gibbs
Adrienne Samuels Gibbs is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald, Takepart.com, Ebony magazine and The Chicago Sun-Times. Follow her @adriennewrites.