As the 44th and first African American President of the United States, many have wondered his origin stories before he made history.
Barack Hussein Obama II was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1961. His mother moved them to Seattle, Washington shortly after his birth, until a year later when they went back to Honolulu. In 1967, he moved to Jakarta, Indonesia before heading back to Hawaii in 1971 and going to college in Los Angeles in 1979.
Let’s take a much closer look at where Obama spent his early years before becoming the first President to be born outside the continental United States.
Birthplace, Seattle, and Indonesia
Born on the 4th of August in 1961, Barack’s parents were his mother, Ann Dunham, and his father who shared the same name, Barack Hussein Obama.
Ann had a European background and was from Wichita, Kansas. Her father had served in the US Army during World War II, and she was actually born on an Army base in 1942.
Obama Sr. was African of Luo descent in the Nyanza Province in Kenya. He had been herding goats while growing up, and ended up being granted a scholarship that let him go to America and attend university in Hawaii.
That’s where the couple met – at the University of Hawaii in Manoa – and they eventually were married on the 2nd of February 1961. In Honolulu just six months after, Barack Obama II entered the world.
As an infant, he grew up on Kalanaiana’ole Highway in Honolulu, until then-18-year-old Ann moved her son to Seattle. She rented her own apartment in Capitol Hill, and went to the University of Washington from 1961-62.
During their time in Seattle, Obama and his mother lived in a 500-square-foot apartment. One of her neighbors, Mary Toutonghi, often babysat Barack and recounted that he was “very large and very curious and very alert … I don’t remember any undue fussing at all.”
Not long after the young boy’s birthday, Ann decided to move them both back to Honolulu. It was around 1963 that Ann and Barack Sr. divorced, and he moved away to Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Barack spent five years growing up in Honolulu, before he made the move to Jakarta in 1967. The exact address where he was said to live isn’t on any records, but he was in an area called the Menteng neighborhood.
You can get a glimpse into what the area looked like in the video below:
His mother had met an Indonesian fellow named Lolo Soetoro before making the move to Jakarta – she had married him in 1965.
Obama lived with his mother and new stepfather in Jakarta, and she got a job at the US embassy. Maya Soetoro, the half-sister of Obama, was born while they were living in Jakarta in 1970.
Pre-Teen Years & Beyond
A year after his half-sister was born, Barack went back to Hawaii and went to Punahou School in Honolulu at 10 years old.
He was visited briefly by Obama Sr. in 1971, whom Obama Jr. had not seen since he had left in the early ‘60s. It was the last time that he would see his father, as he later tragically died in a car collision in November 1982.
The absence of a relationship with his father was something he later reflected on. “[My father] had left paradise, and nothing that my mother or grandparents told me could obviate that single, unassailable fact,” he once said.
In a memoir, Barack shared his experiences growing up in a middle-class family, and that his memory of his father came mostly from old photos and stories.
In 1979, he moved to Los Angeles and went to Occidental College, before graduating in ‘83.
He then went to Columbia University in New York City, moved to Chicago in 1985 at 24 years old, and met Michelle LaVaughn Robinson (his soon-to-be wife Michelle Obama) at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1989.