Photo courtesy of White House

Top 10 Astonishing Facts about Barack Obama


Barack Obama was the 44th president of the United States. This remains to be historic because he is the first African-American citizen to hold the highest office in the United States.

Obama grew up in a middle-class family. His parents divorced when he was two and his mother remarried. They moved to Indonesia before moving back to Hawaii where he lived with his maternal grandmother.

At school, Obama was a hard-working and talented student. He took part in several school activities and loved playing basketball. Obama believed that to whom much is given, much is expected. He lived by this mantra and lived in service to others.

 Barack Obama was elected president of the United States in 2008. He served for two terms. Here are some astonishing facts about Barack Obama.

1. Obama is the first American president born out of the 48 contiguous states

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Malia and Sasha, sit for a family portrait in the Green Room – Wikimedia

Barack Hussein Obama Jr. was named after his father who was Kenyan. Obama was born on August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

This makes him the first American president to have been born and grow up outside the 48 adjacent states. Barack is an Arabic name meaning a blessed one. His grandmother used to fondly refer to him by the nicknamed Barry.  

2. Obama supports the Chicago White Sox

Obama is a supporter of the Chicago White Sox. He had a chance to throw out the first pitch at the 2005 ALCS. This was when he served as a senator.

The second time he did it was in 2009 when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the All-Star Game. For this game, Obama wore a White Sox jacket.

That is not the only sports team Obama supports, he is also a fan of Chicago Bears football. During his teen years, Obama supported Pittsburgh Steelers. He rooted for their victory in the 2009 Super Bowl XLIII.

In 2011, President Obama invited the 1985 Chicago Bears team to the White House. This team had failed to visit the White House after their win in 1986.

The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster had happened that same year, preventing the team from visiting.

3. He won a Grammy Award

By White House – Kenya

Obama has two Grammy Awards under his name. His first Grammy was in 2006 for his spoken word album, Dreams from My Father.

The second one was in 2008, for his spoken word album The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.

He beat two other former presidents nominated for the same award: President Bill Clinton and former President Jimmy Carter.

That same year he won his second Grammy, the Time Magazine named Obama as the Person of the Year. He received the nomination again in 2012.

4. He was the first black president of Harvard Law Review

In 1990, Obama became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review.  He got interviewed by the New York Times on his new position.

Obama said that although there are several black students qualified for the job, they do not get the chance.

5. Obama published his first book in 1995

By Pete Souza – Wikimedia

The memoir, Dreams from My Father was Obama’s first book that was published in 1995. This book tells Obama’s life story in search of his biracial identity.

It takes the reader to his family, his father and the extended family-based in Kenya. So far, Obama has published more than 30 books. These books The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (2006), Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (2007), and Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters (2010).

His latest book is A promised land (2020). The book is a memoir of his time as president from 2009 to 2017.  

Obama senior was also a published author who wrote on adult literacy programs in Africa.

6. His professors encouraged him to study more

Obama went to Occidental College in Los Angeles for two years. He later transferred to Columbia University in New York City.

Obama graduated in 1983 and was awarded a bachelor’s degree in political science. His professors saw the potential in him and urged him to take his studies seriously.

He enjoyed reading literature and philosophy from authors like William Shakespeare, Friedrich Nietzsche, Toni Morrison, and several others.

Obama received his law degree and went to Chicago where he became active in the Democratic Party. He was part of the team that helped Bill Clinton win Illinois as well as the 1992 presidency.

7. Obama has several half-siblings

By Andreas Keller – Wikimedia

He was the only child of his Kenyan father, but he also had half-siblings back in Kenya. The siblings are Malik Abongo or ‘Roy,’ Auma, Abo, Mark, David, and Bernard.

His mother was Obama senior’s second wife. After his parents divorced, his mother got married and she got Obama a baby sister named Maya.

8. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize

In October 2009, Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. He got this award due to his extraordinary efforts in strengthening international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.

The Nobel Committee saw special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons. This Award was controversial and many were opposed to it.

In his speech, Obama said he felt he didn’t deserve it but accepted it because of what the Award represented.

9. As President, Obama lifted the ban of travel to the United States by people living with HIV

One of the important policy changes brought about by Barack Obama as president was the National AIDs Policy. He lifted a 20-year ban on HIV positive people from visiting or entering the United States.

He also introduced widespread testing of the virus and allowed HIV positive persons access to healthcare. This move was applauded as a human rights campaign.   

Human rights activists celebrated this move that had violated human rights for decades. HIV positive non-American citizens had the right to apply for permanent residence.   

10. After legalizing same-sex marriage, the white house was illuminated in rainbow colours

By tedeytan – Wikimedia

The White House was illuminated in rainbow colours on the evening of the Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling, June 26, 2015.

When he was a senator, Obama fought for the legalization of same-sex marriages in the United States.

In 2004, Obama supported civil unions and domestic partnerships for same-sex partners but opposed same-sex marriages. In his statement, he said that he believes marriage should happen between a man and a woman.

Later in 2012, after he got elected for the second and final term, Obama fully supported gay marriage stating that his earlier statement had changed.  

As a president of many firsts, Obama was the first American president to legalize same-sex marriage.