Barack Obama becomes the FIRST African-American major party presidential candidate in the nation's history.
If Obama is elected president, he will be, at 47, among the youngest presidents in history. His Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would be the oldest presidential candidate to win a first term in office at age 72.
Obama became the fifth African-American senator in U.S. history.
He was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review.
Born to a white, American mother and a black, Kenyan father, Obama has spoken openly of his struggle to find acceptance in the black community.
Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4, 1961, to Barack Obama, Sr. (born in Nyanza Province, Kenya) and Ann Dunham (born in Wichita, Kansas).
His parents met while both were attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where his father was enrolled as a foreign student. Barack Obama’s birthname is Barack Hussein Obama. She married Barack Obama Sr. three months after she becomes pregnant with his child. They were both students at the time. He was a dynamic, captivating, mesmerizing intellectual and the first black student at the University of Hawaii. He left Hawaii and his family when Barack was one year old and went to Harvard to further his education.
Barack Obama, Sr.was born in 1936 in Nyangoma-Kogelo, Siaya District (now in Bondo District), Kenya. His father, Hussein Onyango Obama (c. 1895-1979), belonged to the Luo tribe. Barack Obama Sr. died age 46, from injuries received in an automobile accident.
Barack Obama Sr. poses with his son in the Honolulu airport during Obama Sr.’s only visit to see his son while he was growing up in Hawaii. Young Barack was in the 5th grade when the photo was taken.
Barack Hussein Obama shown with his mother who was born late in November 1942, in Wichita. She died of cancer in 1995.
First living in Hawaii, Obama's family moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, when he was 6, where he lived for a time with his mother and Indonesian stepfather.
At their home in Jakarta, Ann Dunham poses in this undated photo with her second Indonesian husband, Lolo Soetoro, their daughter, Maya, and Barack Obama.
Barack poses with his mother, Ann, half sister, Maya, and maternal grandfather Stanley Dunham in Hawaii in the early 1970s after the family returned from Indonesia. Neighbors remember the close relationship between young Barack and his grandfather
Barack Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, is shown here with her husband, Konrad Ng, and their daughter, Suhaila.
Maya Soetoro-Ng, Barack Obama’s half sister, shown teaching her Education in American Society class at the University of Hawaii.
BARACK WITH HIS KENYAN GRANDMOTHER, SARAH HUSSEIN OBAMA
BARACK OBAMA AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY DURING HIS GRADUATION DAYS WITH GRANDPARENTS, STANLEY AND MADELYN DUNHAM
At his high school graduation, Barack Obama gets a hug from his grandmother Madelyn as his grandfather Stanley beams. His maternal grandparents raised Obama in Hawaii while his mother was living in Indonesia
He has credited his upbringing for making him sensitive to America's flagging image abroad.
Attending Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Obama worked as a community organizer, a constitutional law professor, and a lawyer in Chicago before becoming a senator in the Illinois state Senate in 1996.
He also developed a reputation as someone willing to reach across the aisle to build consensus.
Charismatic and Inspirational
Many Americans -- indeed, many Democrats -- had never heard of the charismatic politician before he delivered a stirring speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in July 2004.
He called on Americans to leave behind party polarization, saying, "There is not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America."
Obama's newfound stardom and oratory skills made him a draw at political events and fundraisers across the country, able to attract media attention and raise money for other Democrats.
Expanding on his speech, Obama's 2006 book, "The Audacity of Hope:Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream," rocketed up The New York Times best-seller list.
Even his candid admission that he used cocaine and smoked pot in high school and college , in his first book, "Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance," did little to tarnish his image as an up-and-coming political phenomenon.
Announcing his presidential bid in February 2007 on the steps of the Illinois state legislature where Abraham Lincoln gave a famous speech condemning slavery and calling for the United States to unite, Obama said that as president he would heal a divided nation.
"I know that I haven't spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I've been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change," Obama said.
A Front-Runner Falters
Last year, Clinton was considered the front-runner, with big-money donors backing her bid, not to mention a political team mirroring her husband's inner circle and an organized effort to attract women voters.
But Clinton's message of experience, Washington resume and her front-runner strategy left some Democrats cold and open to Obama's and Edwards' anti-Washington message.
Waging an outsider campaign, Obama's campaign raised a record-breaking $58 million during the first half of 2007, and boasted record-breaking support among people donating $200 and less.
Obama also attracted high-profile celebrity endorsements from talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey, and won highly sought-after Democratic establishment support from Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of former President John F. Kennedy, Sen. John Kerry. D-Mass., and California first lady Maria Shriver.
In March tapes surfaced of incendiary sermons by Obama's longtime pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in which the pastor said, "God Damn America" for the way it treats blacks, and said the United States brought on the 9/11 attacks with its own "terrorism."
The controversy led Obama to make one of the most stirring speeches of his campaign on the issue of race. Standing in the Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Obama condemned Wright's remarks, and then offered a historical perspective, citing "the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through."
"Race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that the Rev. Wright made in his offending sermons about America -- to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality," Obama said.
Obama's speech on race prompted New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to endorse Obama, and other superdelegates followed.
Obama vs. McCain
Obama goes into the general election as the new kid on the block, younger and less experienced but armed with an appealing message of hope and change against a Republican tied to the Iraq War.
The Democratic presidential candidate may also benefit from a Republican president with record-low approval ratings, and 82 percent of Americans who say the country is seriously on the wrong track.