Barack Obama

Barack Hussein Obama is the first African-American and 44th president of the United States. He was born Aug. 4, 1961 in Hawaii to a Black father from Kenya and white mother from Kansas. In law school, he became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. As an Illinois state senator he helped passed ethics reform, cut taxes for working families and expanded health care access. He and First Lady Michelle Obama are parents to daughters Sasha and Malia.

Barack Obama

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Obama on the Issues

As dozens of states attempt to pass new voting laws, the Obama administration is putting the microscope on laws that may dampen minority voter turnout. The Justice Department is aggressively reviewing laws like voter ID restrictions which could disenfranchise African-American voters.  

President Obama inherited an economy that was losing 700,000 jobs per month. His American Recovery and Reinvestment Act cut taxes for small businesses and working families. Though nearly four million private-sector jobs have been added, the Black unemployment rate remains in the double digits, higher than the overall rate. 

President Obama came to office during a time when the economy was in steep decline. He pushed for bailout loans to auto manufacturers, allowing the industry to bypass a total collapse and saving more than 1.4 million jobs. Despite all his efforts, the economy continues to struggle.

President Obama has promoted civil rights laws and principles that are core to the nation. Under Obama, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed, the Pigford lawsuit brought by African-American farmers was settled and the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduces sentencing disparities, was signed into law.

President Obama’s administration has allowed states greater flexibility to address achievement gaps.  His Race to the Top Challenge provides $500 million in state level grants to districts focused on improving learning programs for vulnerable children. He has also overhauled the student loan program.

Since March 2009, the White House reports that 2.4 million African-American seniors with Medicare have received free preventive services, 410,000 young African-Americans got coverage and 5.5 million African-Americans with private insurance now have coverage for preventive services under the  Affordable Care Act. 

President Obama has promised to build a fairer criminal justice system. He pushed for stronger federal hate-crime legislation and called for an end to racial profiling. He supports funding for drug courts, giving first-time, non-violent offenders a chance to serve their sentence in drug rehabilitation programs. 

President Obama’s critics have called him the “Welfare President” for his defense of social programs. While by and large Social Security, Medicare and low-income programs like food stamps have been protected, there have been reductions by Obama's administration.

Since taking office, the United States has brought an end to the war in Iraq, eliminated Osama bin Laden and started to steadily wind down the war in Afghanistan. President Obama has been criticized for not encouraging more engagement with Africa.