Barack Obama: “The American Promise”


About the Author

Barack Obama was born in Honolulu on August 4, 1961, and spent most of his youth in Hawaii. His father, who came to the United States from Kenya, left the family when Obama was two years old and eventually returned to the country of his birth; Obama’s parents divorced in 1964. His mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, later married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian who was studying at the University of Hawaii. In 1967 the family moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, and Obama became familiar with the nation’s culture and society. For the first time, he saw widespread want and deprivation, as beggars “seemed to be everywhere, … some without arms, others without feet” (Obama, Dreams from My Father, p. 38). He later said that living in Indonesia made him “more mindful of … the ways that fate can determine the lives of young children, so that one ends up being fabulously wealthy and another ends up being extremely poor” (Mendell, p. 33). His mother supplemented his formal schooling with...