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Senator Barack Obama

January 26, 2007
Barack Obama

Senator Barack Obama

United States Senator for Illinois
Sworn into office: January 4, 2005

Born August 4th, 1961, in Hawaii
Political party Democratic

As many of you know, over the last few months I have been thinking hard about my plans for 2008. Running for the presidency is a profound decision - a decision no one should make on the basis of media hype or personal ambition alone - and so before I committed myself and my family to this race, I wanted to be sure that this was right for us and, more importantly, right for the country.

I certainly didn't expect to find myself in this position a year ago. But as I've spoken to many of you in my travels across the states these past months; as I've read your emails and read your letters; I've been struck by how hungry we all are for a different kind of politics.

So I've spent some time thinking about how I could best advance the cause of change and progress that we so desperately need.

The decisions that have been made in Washington these past six years, and the problems that have been ignored, have put our country in a precarious place. Our economy is changing rapidly, and that means profound changes for working people. Many of you have shared with me your stories about skyrocketing health care bills, the pensions you've lost and your struggles to pay for college for your kids. Our continued dependence on oil has put our security and our very planet at risk. And we're still mired in a tragic and costly war that should have never been waged.

But challenging as they are, it's not the magnitude of our problems that concerns me the most. It's the smallness of our politics. America's faced big problems before. But today, our leaders in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical, common sense way. Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence, that we can't tackle the big problems that demand solutions.

And that's what we have to change first.

We have to change our politics, and come together around our common interests and concerns as Americans.

This won't happen by itself. A change in our politics can only come from you; from people across our country who believe there's a better way and are willing to work for it.

Years ago, as a community organizer in Chicago, I learned that meaningful change always begins at the grassroots, and that engaged citizens working together can accomplish extraordinary things.

So even in the midst of the enormous challenges we face today, I have great faith and hope about the future - because I believe in you.

And that's why I wanted to tell you first that I'll be filing papers today to create a presidential exploratory committee. For the next several weeks, I am going to talk with people from around the country, listening and learning more about the challenges we face as a nation, the opportunities that lie before us, and the role that a presidential campaign might play in bringing our country together. And on February 10th, at the end of these decisions and in my home state of Illinois, I'll share my plans with my friends, neighbors and fellow Americans.

In the meantime, I want to thank all of you for your time, your suggestions, your encouragement and your prayers. And I look forward to continuing our conversation in the weeks and months to come.

Sincerely,
Barack Obama Sig.
U.S. Senator Barack Obama

About Barack

“The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them…We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America”

Barack Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4th, 1961. His father, Barack Obama Sr., was born and raised in a small village in Kenya, where he grew up herding goats with his own father, who was a domestic servant to the British.

Barack’s mother, Ann Dunham, grew up in small-town Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs during the Depression, and then signed up for World War II after Pearl Harbor, where he marched across Europe in Patton’s army. Her mother went to work on a bomber assembly line, and after the war, they studied on the G.I. Bill, bought a house through the Federal Housing Program, and moved west to Hawaii.

It was there, at the University of Hawaii, where Barack’s parents met. His mother was a student, and his father had won a scholarship that allowed him to leave Kenya and pursue his dreams in America.

Barack’s father eventually returned to Kenya, and Barack grew up with his mother in Hawaii, and for a few years in Indonesia. Later, he moved to New York, where he graduated from Columbia University in 1983.

“My mother was from Kansas, which is where I got my accent from."

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 with a church-based group seeking to improve living conditions in poor neighborhoods plagued with crime and high unemployment.

“The best education I received was working with people in the community on a grassroots basis. Because what it taught me was that ordinary people, when they are working together can do extraordinary things."

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, he needed the skills that only a more professional education could offer.

He went on to earn his law degree from Harvard in 1991, where he became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. Soon after, he returned to Chicago to practice as a civil rights lawyer and teach constitutional law. Finally, his advocacy work led him to run for the Illinois State Senate, where he served for seven years.

2004 Senate Race

In 2003, Barack launched his improbable race for the United States Senate. Even with many primary contenders, an imported Republican challenger and a budget six times smaller than his opponent’s, Barack won a landslide victory. Even then, he stood out alone among the major candidates, opposing the war in Iraq.

As a US Senator, Barack has continued to work on the issues that represent the ideals and aspirations of so many. He’s helped pass major measures that combat the international trafficking of nuclear weapons, promote the use of alternative fuels, and open up the budget process to greater public scrutiny.

The Obama Family
In all of these efforts, he’s brought Democrats and Republicans together for the common good.

Above all his accomplishments and experiences, Barack is most proud and grateful for his family. His wife, Michelle, and his two daughters, Malia, 8, and Sasha, 5, live on Chicago’s South Side where they attend Trinity United Church of Christ.