Barack Hussein Obama II (pronounced /bəˈrɑːk huːˈseɪn oʊˈbɑːmə/; born August 4, 1961) is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama was the junior United States Senator from Illinois from January 2005 until November 2008, when he resigned following his election to the presidency.
Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review. He worked as a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree, and worked as a civil rights attorney in Chicago before serving three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. He also taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004.
He lost an election for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, and entered the 2004 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate as an underdog. He won the primary with support that surprised campaign watchers and raised his profile in the Democratic party. He was selected to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004 and gave a speech that gained him further recognition. In the November general election he won a landslide victory for a Senate seat.
He announced his candidacy for president in early 2007 and competed in a close contest in the 2008 Democratic Party presidential primaries against Hillary Rodham Clinton. He won the nomination and became the first major party African American presidential candidate. In the 2008 general election he defeated Republican candidate John McCain and was inaugurated as President on January 20, 2009.