Barack Hussain Obama Sr.

On this date in 1936, Barack Hussain Obama, Sr. was born near Kendu Bay, Kenya (then a British Colony). Obama Sr.’s father converted from Roman Catholicism to Islam by the time Obama Sr. was born. Obama Sr. studied at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. The university’s first foreign African student, he earned a bachelor’s in economics in 1962. Obama Sr. met Ann Dunham on campus in 1960. They married in February 1961, and their son, Barack Hussein Obama, future president of the United States, was born in August that year. President Barack Obama noted that his father was mostly absent from his childhood, since his parents divorced when he was two years old (“My Spiritual Journey,” TIME Magazine, Oct. 16, 2006). Obama Sr. earned a master’s in economics in 1965 from Harvard University. He returned to Kenya and ultimately became a senior economist in the Kenyan Ministry of Finance. Obama Sr. last saw his son Barack Obama when he was 10 years old in Hawaii. The visit lasted only a month but had a profound effect on the young boy (Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama, 1995). The last years of Obama Sr.’s life were markedly difficult, having lost his position in the Kenyan government. During the time when President Obama was working toward a bachelor’s degree at Columbia University in New York City, his father died in an automobile crash in Kenya at the age of 46. D. 1982.

“ . . . although my father had been raised a Muslim, by the time he met my mother he was a confirmed atheist, thinking religion to be so much superstition.”

—President Barack Obama remarking about his father in “My Spiritual Journey,” TIME Magazine, Oct. 16, 2006)

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

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