He spoke passionately about how his mother was struggling to make ends meet to support him , while going to school and working long hours. She, like so many of us in America, was forced to take public assistance, food stamps and Medicaid to help make ends meet. President Obama spoke with pride and unbridled adoration of this mother who sacrificed for him.
This was a nice fairy tale which led the voters to believe he understood their struggles and supported them on an equal plane, something no other presidential candidate had ever done. I confess, I never thought twice about it and believed it.
The reality was a little different. Barack Hussein Obama Jr. was born on August 4,1961 in Honolulu Hawaii. His mother, Stanley Ann Dunham was born in Witchita Kansas and married his father, Kenyan born Barack Obama Sr. on February 2,1961. Stanley Ann and Barack Sr. Met in college while attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Barack Sr. was a foreign student on a scholarship. The two met during a Russian Language class . and were soon inseparable.
Shortly after Barack Jr. was born, Stanley Ann completed her undergraduate studies and in August 1961 moved to Washington State for one year to study at the University of Washington in Seattle, taking her new baby with her. Barack Sr. remained in Hawaii to finish his undergraduate work in Economics, graduating from the University of Hawaii In June 1962. He left Hawaii to attend graduate school at Harvard University , also on a scholarship. The two were divorced in March of 1963. Barack Sr. returned to Kenya in 1964, where he remarried. Young Barack met his father only once, when Barack Sr. visited his son in Hawaii in 1971. Barack Obama Sr. died in a car accident in 1982, when Barack Jr. was 21.
Stanley Ann Dunham, with son in tow, returned to Hawaii in 1962 and returned to the University of Hawaii where, in 1963, she met Indonesian Graduate student, Lolo Soetoro. The couple were married on Molokai Hawaii on March 15,1965. Barack was 4 years old. Lolo extended his J-1 visa twice, each time for a one year period, but was forced to return to Indonesia in 1966. 16 months later Stanley Ann and young Barack joined him in 1967. The family settled in Jakarta, initially living in the Tibet sub district of South Jakarta and, in 1970, when Barack was 9, to the wealth neighborhood in the Menteng sub district of Jakarta. In 1971 Barack returned to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents, Madelyn and Stanley Dunham. Young Barack won a scholarship to the prestigious Punahou school, a private college preparatory school , which he attended from 5th grade until he graduated high school in 1979.
Stanley Ann returned to Hawaii in 1972 with her young daughter, to again attend graduate school at the University of Hawaii . Barack lived with his mother and his young sister during that time from 1972-1975. When Stanley Ann returned to Indonesia in 1975,Barack remained with his grandparents in Hawaii. Stanley Ann remained in Indonesia for the next 20 years. She divorced Lolo in 1980, earned her PhD in 1992 and died in Hawaii of ovarian and uterine cancer in 1995.
When Stanley Ann lived in Hawaii, she lived with her parents. They appear to have been upper middle class or , possibly wealthy. Barack growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia, would not have been stigmatized by his mixed race. By all accounts he was accepted, nurtured and learned to value education. There were no years of poverty, no food stamps, no public assistance. In fact, Barack Obama never even saw Chicago until he went to college there. It is difficult to understand how President Obama can pretend to understand the plight of inner city children and the struggles of inner city schools, when he attended private schools his entire life.
Obama attended Occidental College in Los Angeles, Columbia University in New York, Harvard Law. He traveled extensively through Indonesia, Pakistan, and India. He was hired in Chicago as the Director of The Developing Communities Project. He remained in Chicago working as a community organizer from 1985-1988.
Barack Obama’s family or origin were not particularly religious in nature. Young Barack was not raised in any specific church or religious denomination. It was not until he was married and in political office that he began looking for a church to belong to.
But this story is not so much about the president as it is about his family and the values they instilled in him that have shaped the man he is and the presidency he has established. As mentioned, one of the strongest lessons his mother taught him was the value of education. Stanley Ann Dunham was in college all of the years of Barack’s childhood. She left her son in the care of his Grandparents so that she could pursue her education, and so that he could pursue his as well. He also learned the value of the extended family. Stanley Ann lived with her parents on and off most of her life, and Barack was essentially raised by his grandparents. This was not unique to this small family unit, but was the family culture for the Dunham family going back several generations.
Little is available regarding the family of Barack Obama Senior, other than what has been recorded in the presidential biographies. You can learn more about this part of the presidential family by following this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama,_Sr.
In our next post we will look more closely at the Dunham family that nurtured our president and instilled in him the leadership qualities he brought to his office.