Like most Americans today, Barack's early life was filled with conflict and personal trials. Barack's parents -- a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas -- divorced when he was a child. He struggled as a teenager to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage, and lost his father to a car accident in 1982.
Remembering the values of empathy and service that his mother taught him, Barack put law school and corporate life on hold after college and moved to Chicago in 1985, where he became a community organizer for a group dedicated to improving living conditions in poor neighborhoods plagued with crime and high unemployment. Barack also spent 11 years teaching Constitutional Law as a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.
The group had some success, but Barack had come to realize that in order to truly improve the lives of people in that community and other communities, it would take not just a change at the local level, but a change in our laws and in our politics.
Obama delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention while still an Illinois state legislator. He went on to win election to the U.S. Senate in November 2004 with a landslide 70% of the vote. As a senator and presidential candidate, Obama has emphasized ending the Iraq War, increasing energy independence, funding technological innovation, and providing universal health care as major priorities.