Barack Obama is a politically successful man, despite what the statistics indicate of his race and circumstances. How did he achieve this success? Certainly, a major factor of his success today is the dramatic change in racial viewpoints since Barack’s birth in the early 1960’s. However, in order for him to have risen to this stature, we have to look at the factors surrounding his youth, which paved the path to his success today. There are three major contributing factors, which lead to Barack as a successful person, environment, education and family.
Barack was born in 1961, during a decade of tremendous racial turmoil. These years were a time of great change for America. The country was literally redefined as people from all walks of life fought to uphold their standards on what they believed a true democracy is made of; equal rights for all races, freedom of speech, and the right to stay out of wars in which they felt they didn’t belong.
Yet, much of this turmoil was unfelt by Barack and his family as they lived in Hawaii, which itself had become the new melting pot of the United States. Though he was not entirely isolated from racism, his mother and grandparents, being white, shielded him from much of the effects.
At the age of six, he moved to Jakarta with his mother and new stepfather. Life in Indonesian, an impoverish country, was difficult, made better by the fact that his stepfather Lolo was relatively financially secure. However, Barack was able to see the effects poverty has on a people. Corruption existed in every level of society and limited educational opportunities. Corruption is the way of life in Jakarta, success or failure depends on the willingness of a person to use it. The next person, hungry for power, removes those who are weak, often times in a violent manner. For Barack’s safety and educational concerns, his mother arranges for him to move back to Hawaii and attend the esteemed Punahou Academy.
This unusual combination of residence and cultures factors enabled Barack to grow up without much of the stigma, attached to young black males of this era. This also contributed to his ability to take advantage of educational opportunities that otherwise may not have been available.
From an early age, Barack learned that a good education would get him far in life. His mother would wake up at four in the morning to drill him in English and studies outside of his normal classes. Reminding him, “This is no picnic for me either, buster,” whenever Barack tried to resist this regiment (Obama, p. 48).
Barack’s unique circumstances allowed him to become educated at some of the best schools available. Having both his parents being college graduates, was a major factor in getting Barack into better schools. Unlike many of the black children whose parents probably did not graduate high school, let alone attend college. In 1955, only 4.9% of college students were black (Stephanopoulos 2.4). This gave Barack the...