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.
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 eight years. In 2004, he became the third
African American since Reconstruction to be elected to the U.S.
It has been the rich and varied experiences of Barack Obama's life -
growing up in different places with people who had differing ideas -
that have animated his political journey. Amid the partisanship and
bickering of today's public debate, he still believes in the ability to
unite people around a politics of purpose - a politics that puts solving
the challenges of everyday Americans ahead of partisan calculation and
In the Illinois State Senate, this meant working with both Democrats
and Republicans to help working families get ahead by creating programs
like the state Earned Income Tax Credit, which in three years provided
over $100 million in tax cuts to families across the state. He also
pushed through an expansion of early childhood education, and after a
number of inmates on death row were found innocent, Senator Obama worked
with law enforcement officials to require the videotaping of
interrogations and confessions in all capital cases.
In the U.S. Senate, he has focused on tackling the challenges of a
globalized, 21st century world with fresh thinking and a politics that
no longer settles for the lowest common denominator. His first law was
passed with Republican Tom Coburn, a measure to rebuild trust in
government by allowing every American to go online and see how and where
every dime of their tax dollars are spent. He has also been the lead
voice in championing ethics reform that would root out Jack Abramoff-style
corruption in Congress.
As a member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, Senator Obama has
fought to help Illinois veterans get the disability pay they were
promised, while working to prepare the VA for the return of the
thousands of veterans who will need care after Iraq and Afghanistan.
Recognizing the terrorist threat posed by weapons of mass destruction,
he traveled to Russia with Republican Dick Lugar to begin a new
generation of non-proliferation efforts designed to find and secure
deadly weapons around the world. And knowing the threat we face to our
economy and our security from America's addiction to oil, he's working
to bring auto companies, unions, farmers, businesses and politicians of
both parties together to promote the greater use of alternative fuels
and higher fuel standards in our cars.
Whether it's the poverty exposed by Katrina, the genocide in Darfur,
or the role of faith in our politics, Barack Obama continues to speak
out on the issues that will define America in the 21st century. But
above all his accomplishments and experiences, he 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.
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