Dreams from My Father


Dreams from My Father

Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance is a rather captivating work. It focused on Obama’s life in Hawaii, living conditions in New York, experiences in Chicago, trip to Kenya, and his marriage to Michelle.

Life in Hawaii and Indonesia was dominated with details of his early life. Obama benefited from an education at exclusive schools. He worked hard and did well. All along he was encouraged by his mother Anna, grandfather Gramps, and grandmother Toot. Insights were given concerning his adolescent years, his friends at Punahou school, and boyhood misdeeds. But he was able to stay out of trouble.

After graduating from Occidental College in Los Angeles, Obama moved to New York City where he attended Columbia University. Readers learned of his struggles while living in Harlem, graduation, and jobs in the city. But his goal was to become a community organizer. He later got this chance and relocated in 1983 to Chicago.

Community organizing in Chicago was rather challenging. Obama endeavored to work with a number of organizations and churches. But the politics in the city was quite polarized. How could he pull the various factions together to help the poor? There were hurdles to clear. Obama was able to work with some predominantly black churches to achieve these goals. His work also led him to support the Altgeld Gardens Public housing project that sat at Chicago’s southernmost edge. Fortunately, he had glimmerings of success in some of his endeavors.

While living in Chicago Obama was able to connect with two of his siblings from Kenya. A sister Auma, who was studying linguistics in Germany spent some time with him. He also took some time off from his schedule as a community organizer to visit his eldest brother Roy in Washington DC. Both siblings filled him in on information about his father who they called the “Old Man” that Obama only met when he was ten years old in Hawaii.

The last part of this book is filled with an account about his trip to Kenya. Obama wrote about Nairobi, relatives in Alego, his relationship with his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. He was able to bond with some of his half-brothers. The “Old Man” had been married to three different women with whom he had fathered children. Two of those women were white Americans. Another was a Kenyan. Both of his white wives ended up divorcing him. On Obama’s return to America, he attended Harvard University and married Michelle, who was also a Harvard law school graduate.

They exchanged vows at Trinity United Church of Christ with Reverend Jerimiah Wright officiating. Many members of the Obama clan were present to witness this ceremony. Michelle, Anna, Gramps, and Toot were able to meet some of their Kenyan relatives. Obama was to work at a legal firm in Chicago, and taught law at the University of Chicago. He and his wife Michelle would live in the city where he would continue as a community organizer before seeking elected office.       



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