This Black History Month, we’re sharing some of the figures that have inspired us. We’d like to celebrate their contributions and efforts, which have resulted in meaningful change being made. These are only a few of the figures who have inspired us, with many more continuing to pioneer progression in society. To read more on the importance of Black History Month, visit https://www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk/
Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, in 1961, to a Kenyan father and an American mother. He worked through college relying on scholarships and student loans, eventually moving to Chicago.
Obama went on to attend Harvard law school, where he became the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review. After graduating in 1991, he moved back to Chicago and took up a position at the University of Chicago teaching Constitutional Law. He was active in politics in these years, directing Illinois’ Voter Registration Campaign, aimed at registering unregistered African Americans to vote. Soon afterwards, Obama joined a law firm specialising in civil rights litigation and neighbourhood economic development.
Early Political Career
In 1996, Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate, where he gained support for laws that would reform healthcare and ethical legislation. He was re-elected for several terms, eventually becoming the chairman of the Illinois Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee. In this role, he sponsored a bipartisan policy to require police officers to record the race of drivers that they detained, in an effort to curb racial profiling. He was elected to the Senate in 2005.
Obama declared his entry in the Presidential race in 2007, with a view to ending the Iraq war, reforming the healthcare system, and increasing America’s energy independence. After battling Hillary Clinton, he became the leader of the Democratic Party, leading the Party to election victory. This was a monumental moment as Obama became the first Black President of the United States.
‘My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too.’
In his years in office, President Obama ended the Iraq war, appointed two women to serve on the Supreme Court, and expanded the Hate Crimes Act to include acts motivated by someone’s gender or sexuality. He urged the Supreme Court to rule in favour of legalising same sex marriages and relaxed the statute of limitations on equal pay lawsuits. He continued his plight to achieve more equality in relation to healthcare, passing the Affordable Care Act subsidising health insurance policies for those in poverty.
‘If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists – to protect them and to promote their common welfare – all else is lost.’
Since leaving his Presidential office, President Obama has remained focused on the Obama Foundation, which he has stated that he intends to be more consequential than his time in office.
Having done so much with his power as President to improve American Healthcare and advance the rights of the LGBTQ Community and women’s rights, President Obama is an inspirational figure. Having fought the adversity to become the first Black President of the United States demonstrates his resilience and his desire to make change in the world.
Read about our other inspirational figures on our blog page.