1. What number president is Barack Obama?
2. When did Barack Obama become president?
3. How old was Barack Obama when he became president?
These are all very commonly posed questions about Barack Obama, and there are many other issues that the public is eager to know. So, let’s answer those first three (of our 27 questions about him) in order to start building your collection of Barack Obama facts.
American President #44
Barack Obama was America’s 44th president and the winner of two presidential elections. He became president on January 20, 2009, after winning the 2008 election. He won again four years later, in 2012, and was again sworn in on January 20, 2013. At the time he won the first election he had not yet celebrated his 48th birthday, though would in the summer of 2009.
That means he served eight years in office and received a tremendous amount of attention from even before announcing his intention to run for the highest office in American politics. As the very first President of African American heritage, he faced a lot of challenges on his journey to the White House, and even though he is no longer President, many people have a lot of questions and interest in him.
In this article, we’ll examine 27 different Barack Obama facts as well as seeking to answer most of the most common questions asked about him, his political life and his private life. Politics makes it impossible to separate a great deal of the public life from the private life, and so we will look at many issues that seemingly have no real relevance on his role in government, such as the origins of his parents, his middle name and more.
Many of the Barack Obama facts look at his early life. This is due to some controversy around his origins and whether or not he had the legal right to run for the office of President of the United States. Known to the public as the “birther” issue, this controversy is about whether or not he is a natural born citizen. Let’s consider some questions and the facts or answers that relate to them:
4. Who is Barack Obama?
5. Where was Barack Obama born?
6. Where is Barack Obama from?
7. When was Barack Obama born?
8. What is Barack Obama’s real name?
9. What race is Barack Obama?
10. Is Barack Obama Muslim?
11. Was Barack Obama a Boy Scout?
So, just who is Barack Obama? He is the son of Stanley Ann Dunham and Barack Obama, Sr. Ms. Dunham was born and raised in Kansas, and Mr. Obama, Sr. was born in Africa and became the first African Student to attend the University of Hawaii. The pair wed in 1961, but their educational goals kept them separated for many years at a time. Barack Obama, Jr. was born August, 4 1961
His full name is actually Barack Hussein Obama II (rather than Junior, but this is a common way to differentiate between himself and his father taken up by the press and public), and throughout his early years went by the nickname “Barry”.
He was born in Hawaii, but his mother moved with him to Seattle, Washington not long after his birth and remained their remained there for a year before returning to Hawaii. He remained in Hawaii and he would see his father very little throughout his childhood, losing him at the age of 21 when Obama, Sr. was killed in an auto accident in 1982.
By that time his parents had divorced, and both would remarry before Obama, Sr. was killed. His mother married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian East-West Center graduate student studying geography, when Barack was around four years old. With him, they relocated to Indonesia when Barack was around six years old, making a home in Jakarta.
So, though he was born in Hawaii in 1961, before the age of ten he had called the city of Seattle home as well as Hawaii and then the Indonesian region of Jarkata.
Because of his early years moving about so often and because of the mixed races and citizenships of his parents, there have been far too many misunderstandings about Barack Obama, whether or not he’s a natural born American and even his race.
Let’s clarify: His mother is of the Caucasian race, his father is of African descent, and Mr. Obama himself has said that his family looks like “a little mini-United Nations” because it features so many races. He has white relatives with ancestry reaching back to Ireland and the U.K. and he has ancestry of purely African descent. He is a distant relation to Jefferson Davis (the Confederate President during the American Civil War, as well as sharing ancestors with George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States).
So, he is not a single race (as is so often the case with many modern Americans) but is a mixed race of both African and Caucasian descent.
Born in Hawaii in 1961 (the islands became the State of Hawaii in 1959) makes him a natural citizen of the United States, and as his mother is also a full citizen, he is a full American citizen. This is because the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States makes it so:
— If both parents are U.S. citizens, the child is a citizen if either of the parents has ever lived in the U.S. prior to the child’s birth.
— If one parent is a U.S. citizen and the other parent is a U.S. national, the child is a citizen if the U.S. citizen parent has lived in the U.S. for a continuous period of at least one year prior to the child’s birth.
— If one parent is a U.S. citizen and the other parent is not, the child is a citizen if: the “U.S. citizen parent” has been “physically present” in the U.S. before the child’s birth for a total period of at least five years, and at least two of those five years were after the U.S. citizen parent’s fourteenth birthday.”
Keep in mind, though that anyone born in Hawaii after the year 1900 is a citizen because the Immigration and Nationality Act, Title III, SEC. 305. [8 U.S.C. 1405], says that “A person born in Hawaii on or after April 30, 1900, is a citizen of the United States at birth.” And it is significant to note that this same act is what allowed the late Senator John McCain to also claim citizenship. He was born on a U.S. Military Base in Panama and also ran for President while serving many years as a Senator after an illustrious and heroic military career.
So, he is undoubtedly a citizen of mixed race (or biracial heritage, multiracial, etc.), not unlike millions of other Americans, and he attended and graduated from an American high school on the island of Oahu.
Many people have asked whether he is a practicing Muslim due to his family origins. Indonesia is a country known as a secular state officially, but as a land in which Islam is a dominant faith. Because of this, many claim that Barack Obama is a follower of Islam, or Muslim. There is no evidence of this, and in fact, his parents’ religious views speak otherwise. His mother was raised without any formal religious practice, his biological father was a confessed and outspoken atheist and his step-father repeatedly indicated that religion was “not particularly useful”.
Because of these parental perspectives, Barack Obama was raised without any religious practices or studies at all. He says his childhood and teen years were non-religious and “detached” from any sort of religious practices or beliefs. He has said his mother was one of the most spiritually awakened human beings he’s ever known, but that it wasn’t defined by any specific religion.
It was when he began work as a community organizer (see below) that he began to interact with the many black church communities in his Chicago neighborhoods that he recognized the power or religion. Today, he indicates that he is a “devout Christian” who believes in the “redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus” and that “faith gives a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life”.
Because there were still many questions about his faith after his first win in the presidential election of 2008, he went on record two years later stating that he is a Christian by choice” and that he’d come to his faith later in his life (during his 20s and onward) because the “precepts of Jesus” spoke to him in “terms of the kind of life [he] would want to lead” i.e. being a keeper of fellow humankind, living by the Golden Rule, and so on.
So, no, he is not Muslim, but is a devout Christian who has belonged to several Protestant churches in the Washington DC and Chicago areas, including the Shiloh Baptist Church.
Another odd question asked about him, and which we should answer here is whether or not he was a Boy Scout, as in a full-blown member of the Boy Scouts of America. The short answer is now. However, an official statement from the Boy Scouts of America says this, “John F. Kennedy was the first U.S. President to be a Boy Scout, reaching the level of Star Scout. Gerald Ford was the only President to reach the level of Eagle Scout. Both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were Cub Scouts. Barack Obama was not a part of the Boy Scouts of America; rather he was a member of Gerakan Pramuka, the Indonesian Scout Association, and was the equivalent of a Cub Scout.”
Keep in mind that he was in Indonesia from the age of six to the age of ten, making it impossible to participate in classic American Scouting. He did issue a famous statement praising the organization on the advent of its first 100 years of service in 2010. He sent a video statement to the National Scout Jamboree and commended them on their century of public service. In that speech and at all other times, Barack Obama has never claimed to have been a member of the Boy Scouts of America.
12. Where did Barack Obama go to college?
13. What is the title of Barack Obama’s 1995 memoir?
14. What is Barack Obama’s IQ?
Because of this, his education has been quite impressive and diverse. He is fluent in Indonesian because of his years there, but he did return to Hawaii within four years of traveling to Jakarta and lived with his maternal grandparents until his mother returned to Hawaii to pursue further studies. He remained in Hawaii until completing high school, though his mother returned to Indonesia.
He finished high school in 1979 and then went to college in Los Angeles, attending occidental College where he already showed signs of a life to be spent in the public eye, making an anti-apartheid speech and calling for the school to divest in any South African holdings. He transferred out of Occidental for his Junior year, opting to attend Columbia University in New York City, focusing on political science and international relations as well as English Literature.
He completed undergraduate studies in 1983 and worked for a time as a market researcher and then as a community organizer. This inspired his return to school in 1988, when he attended Harvard Law School, from which he graduated with a law degree in 1991. He then went on to teach at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004, and it was during this time that his real political life began.
He directed a project known as “Illinois’ Project Vote” that worked to register voters, ensuring that more than 150k unregistered, mostly African American, voters appeared on the registration roles. He also became the director of the Developing Communities Project while he was still teaching and began to build up the community by organizing tenants’ rights groups, job training programs, and even teaching others how to organize in their communities.
By 1993, he moved from teaching to work as a civil rights attorney, beginning as an associate and then moving on to serving as a counsel for eight years. This entire time he was also writing and was able to publish his own autobiography in 1995 “Dreams from My Father: A story of Race and Inheritance”.
It is interesting to note that he had yet to attain the public’s attention when this memoir appeared, and it is a book focused on his life as a high school student in Hawaii as well as his emotional life growing up without a father figure. He has written other works since then, including the best-selling “The Audacity of Hope”, “Change We Can Believe In” and “Of Thee I Sing” the last of which was written for his two daughters.
His rise to fame in the political world did not begin until the late 1990s when he ran for and won a seat in the Illinois State Senate in 1996. He represented Chicago’s south side neighborhoods, and “sponsored and participated in and provided bipartisan support for many laws for ethics, health care, childcare, payday loan regulations and predatory mortgage lending.”
Only a few years after that he ran for the United States Senate, and in 2004 his meteoric rise to national fame began when he gave the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. He won his Senate race that same year and became a senator in January of 2005, and two years later announced his intention to run for President.
Clearly, all of this success makes it clear that he is a very intelligent man, and yet many want official statistics and figures about his “IQ”. This is a bit difficult to determine for a few reasons:
- Barack Obama has not taken or released any official figures from an actual IQ test
- There is a great deal of noise and controversy around presidential IQs since the election of Donald Trump; making it very difficult to get even accurate estimates
So, let’s try to get the facts about Barack Obama in as clear and accurate a manner as we can.
First, if we accept the common statistics that most college graduates have IQs averaging at 113, we have a good starting point. Yet, it is also true that the average IQ of “Ivy League” graduates (and Barack Obama did graduate from Harvard) is 142. So, at the very least, it is fair to say that Obama’s IQ is equal to other Ivy League graduates and stands at roughly 140 to 142.
Unfortunately, the 2006 study that used a large amount of aggregate data about every U.S. President in order to determine their IQs did not include Obama or Donald Trump. What it did indicate, however, is that Obama’s IQ would probably exceed the average because he is able to master a lot of complex and detailed information, display remarkable logic and sophistication in his thinking and express himself with great eloquence. Because he also never claims to be a genius or draw comparisons between himself and his predecessor, it only enhances the notion that his intellectual powers are substantial along with his emotional intelligence and maturity.
So, there is no official answer to the question of his IQ, but we can reasonably say that it has to be higher than the average Ivy League graduate, which means his IQ would be in the top ten or twenty of all U.S. Presidents, likely falling above that of FDR and Abraham Lincoln, while not exceeding the estimated IQs of people like Jefferson and John Quincy Adams (who is rated as the smartest President, thus far, in U.S. History).
And, though these Barack Obama facts represent some of the most frequently requested or sought after, there are a lot more to consider, and many don’t seem at all related to his political life or competency. Let’s look at the questions that seek out those oddball facts:
15. When did Barack Obama get married?
16. How old is Barack Obama daughter?
17. Does Barack Obama smoke?
18. Is Barack Obama left handed?
19. How tall is Barack Obama?
Many U.S. presidents have wives that obtain almost as much celebrity or fame as they have themselves. Barack Obama’s wife, Michelle Obama is one such First Lady. The pair met while working in the same law firm, Michelle oversaw Barack’s work, and wed in 1992. They have since had two daughters, so the question above (How old is Barack Obama daughter?) is a bit off the mark since there are two:
Malia, born in 1998 and Natasha (known by most as Sasha) born in 2001. This means they are currently 20 and 17, respectively.
Interestingly enough, a lot of attention was focused on Obama’s bad habit of cigarette smoking, and even photos of him in his early years seeming to smoke marijuana. In a 2017 article in Newsweek, it was reported that Obama had “quite his daily habit by the time he became president” but has admitted to struggling with his cravings. It was also noted in that same article that photographers seem to have caught their oldest daughter smoking during a Harvard-Yale football game in November of that year. This was noted because the rest of the article focused in on inherited habits, and whether smoking is something we might genetically inherit from parents.
One thing that is known to be genetically inheritable is the hand we favor (i.e. right-handedness or left-handedness), and Barack Obama is one of the country’s most famous “south paws”, i.e. he writes with his left hand. Other presidents who were left handed include James Garfield, Herbert Hoover, Henry Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, too.
We also inherit things like facial characteristics and body size, and Barack Obama’s height is indicative of such traits. Standing at 6’ 1” he is a relatively tall man, and his wife Michelle is an equally tall woman standing only a few inches shorter at 5’ 11”! Their daughter Malia is actually evidence of inherited height as she has hit the same height as her father and is over six feet tall!
The Obamas may have left the White House in 2016, but they still figure quite prominently in the press. As we learned from reading about the coverage of Malia being caught smoking, the press still follows them everywhere. They, like many other public figures, use this attention to shed light on many issues, including social and environmental issues.
Their ongoing presence causes many to ask a lot of different questions, and the Barack Obama facts below provide a lot of answers.
20. What is Barack Obama doing now?
21. Who was Barack Obama’s vice president?
22. Where is Barack Obama now?
23. What is Barack Obama’s net worth?
At this writing, the 2018 “Midterm Elections” have come and gone. During that time Barack Obama kept a relatively low profile until just a few weeks before the elections occurred. As November neared, he hit the campaign trail for many Democratic candidates and offered a lot of speeches that were far more outspoken than anything from the past. Only a short time before the elections, he also delivered a eulogy at the late Senator John McCain’s funeral, which was at the specific request of the Senator before his death.
During this time, he also had a few public outings with is former Vice-President and close friend Joe Biden. It was a low-key event that had followed the former President’s latest rounds of public speeches and campaign appearances. He had also recently returned from South Africa where he spoke at the Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture.
At this speech, it is reported that he set the tone for the remainder of his “post-presidency” period, focusing on issues like tolerance, democracy and commitment. As one journalist noted of Obama after his time as President, “Barack and Michelle Obama have been developing a much broader portfolio of projects since leaving the White House. Last May, they inked a deal with Netflix to produce a set of films and series for the streaming service.” Both have also written books, with Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” released in late 2018 at the top of the best-seller lists.
Obama has also commented on the issues he will emphasize in the future, saying “I still care about making sure that the United States and the world is a place where kids get a decent education. Where people who are willing to work hard are able to find a job that pays a living wage. That we’re conserving the amazing resources of our planet so that future generations can enjoy the beauty of this place. Like we did.”
Since leaving the White House, he has even served Jury Duty in his hometown of Chicago, though was not selected for a panel or service.
In other words, he has not been idle since leaving the White House. They remain in the Washington DC area until Malia finishes her high school education there, and have also purchased a new home in Chicago, which has always rated as their hometown.
Clearly, they have made a lot of secondary income from their time in the White House, and as of this writing, his net work is estimated at roughly $40 million. One source says this comes from:
- His six figure pension granted to him as a former U.S. President
- Millions generated from his wide-ranging, public speaking engagements
- His best-selling books, including his soon to be released memoir and subsequent royalties
- His investment strategies
- His production deal with Netflix
The Obama family entered the White House with a net worth estimated at less than $2 million, and it is believed that it has been their book writing that has so rapidly increased the family’s wealth. However, it is expected that their net worth will increase in the coming years as it is rumored that their joint book deals netted the family around $60 million. Interestingly enough, Barack Obama gave away all profits on “Of Thee I Sing” towards scholarships for children of wounded or fallen soldiers.
The former President is also rumored to earn around $400k per speaking engagement, and American University calculates that he could realistically bring in $242 million, or more, during his post-presidency period.
They are also very shrewd investors and purchased Bright Directions growth plans for each of the children. They are also heavily invested in real estate, owning their DC and Chicago homes outright.
So, the post-presidency period has been especially lucrative for Obama and his family. However, it is also very interesting in terms of his relationship to other former presidents and the U.S. public in general.
24. Who was the president before Barack Obama?
25. How many Executive Orders did Barack Obama have?
26. Will you ever come back Barack Obama?
27. Can Barack Obama run for president again?
The President before Barack Obama was George W. Bush, and though it was unknown at the time, the Obamas and Bushes had a very warm friendship between them. Since becoming President, and even after leaving, headlines have emphasized the incredibly strong ties between the Bush and Michelle Obama who share a high amount of respect and regard for one another.
Their presidencies were quite different, and they were on opposite sides of the political aisle (Bush a Republican and Obama a Democrat), and so their friendship serves as a ray of light in what have come to be some of the most tumultuous political times in recent American history.
While statistically, there are not tremendous differences in the amount of activity in the Bush and Obama presidencies, with Bush signing 291 Executive Orders into effect and Barack Obama signing 276, they were very different in their approaches, efforts and outcomes. Even so, there was none of the vitriol and adversarial language or behaviors that dominate the political scene today.
This is why the last two questions and Barack Obama facts we are going to examine will focus on this particular issue.
Firstly, lots of people half-heartedly ask, “Will You Ever Come Back Barack Obama?” or other similar queries. At that, it is important to note that he has never disappeared. He has been slowly re-emerging into the world of Washington DC politics and the general American political scene. It would have been unwise and unfair of him to do anything else. He has allowed the current Administration two years to establish itself and create whatever style and structure it needed.
Yet, because there has been a sense of confusion in the Administration, as well as a lot of turnover in terms of Secretaries and major figures, many people in both parties are beginning to speak out and make statements that are far more powerful and strongly worded than the public is used to hearing.
Barack Obama has never gone away, but he did step away from the spotlight. It would seem that he is slowly and steadily inching his way back into to it through his public addresses and pointed comments in his different speeches and interviews.
He did not throw his support towards any specific candidates early on in the 2018 Midterms but did strongly encourage voters to use their power to influence any changes they felt needed to be made. These elections did shift the balance of power in the United States Congress, giving the House to Democrats and allowing Republicans to hold the Senate. Now, many are talking about the people who are going to enter the fray in the next presidential election, which has caused a lot of curious onlookers and even political commentators to pose the final question above: Could he run for election again?
The short answer to that question is no, and that is because the 22nd Amendment to the United States’ Constitution limits the number of times that any one person is eligible for election to the office. Following the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his fourth term, Congress approved the amendment in 1947. This effectively prohibits anyone who has already been elected twice from being elected again. There are questions about those who succeed to the office (such as the Vice President who takes the role after the death of a President).
However, in this instance, Barack Obama cannot serve as a candidate for the office because he is ineligible for election.
Yet, a 2018 report in Vanity Fair had this to say of the former President, “Obama has been quietly re-entering Democratic politics, asserting his role as presidential kingmaker ahead of the 2020 election… Politico reports that he has met with at least nine possible Democratic presidential candidates in recent months.” At these meetings he offers advice, discusses the Democratic party and its future, campaigns and more. He has offered help with donors and used his influence for some. He seems to be very concerned about the Democratic party in general and seems to be behaving in a way that is best for its return to a more powerful position.
When asking if Obama could run, many also want to know if his Vice-President, Joe Biden could run. It is entirely legal for him to run for President, and though he would be one of the oldest candidates to historically attempt a win, it is not outside of the realms of possibility according to many in the know.
And could Barack Obama then become his Vice President? That’s an issue that has a lot of legal questions. According to one expert: “the wording of the 22nd Amendment doesn’t literally say that no one can be President for more than two terms; only that no one can be elected President more than twice”.
Technically, there are no laws that say Obama could not be chosen as Biden’s running mate, leaving it entirely possible that he could end up President should anything happen to Biden that would prevent him from finishing the term, or his resigning from office.
Lots of Barack Obama Facts and Insights
So, you now have 27 Barack Obama facts as well as very clear set of answers about the man who served as America’s 44th President. Not without controversy, he remains an incredibly popular person and political figure. He and his family are constantly in the public eye, though rarely at their own behest. The two Obama daughters are striving to complete their educations, with Malia attending Harvard and Sasha about to finish high school in Washington, DC. Michelle Obama has become a best-selling author, advocate for healthier diets and plenty of exercise, and a very famous fashion icon.
The former President remains an impressive figure who exudes confidence and intelligence whether speaking to a few reporters in a Chicago bakery or thousands of people at an international gathering. He seems to have the health and success of the Democratic party as a goal or focus, yet it is always America in general that his concern. From his time as a community organizer and civil rights lawyer to his role as the most powerful and influential person in the United States, it has always been about making America the best place it can be.
As the first African American person to be elected President of the United States, it was impossible that he would be allowed to slip into obscurity after his time in office. He has not shown any signs of wishing to do so. He has simply given his successor time to establish himself and for Midterms to come and go. Will he remain a political or socially active figure? That’s a question we cannot answer here, but based on his behaviors over the past decades, one fact seems plain: it doesn’t seem likely that he will leave the political world any time soon.