Barack Obama
Barack Obama.jpg
Airdate April 26, 2013
Remake: July 28, 2017
Curriculum Social Studies

Barack Obama launched in BrainPOP Social Studies and Was Written by Paul Larson and released April 26, 2009 .

Summary[edit | edit source]

The movie starts with Tim and Moby on the White house on a winter day and Moby wore earmuffs, Tim talks about former president Barack Obama. At the end, Moby drinks hot cocoa.

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Transcript[edit | edit source]

Quiz[edit | edit source]

FYI[edit | edit source]

Arts And Entertainment[edit | edit source]


Barack Obama’s first book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, was published in 1995, before Obama entered politics. It’s a personal memoir that details his struggles to define his own identity.

In Dreams, Obama writes that when he was growing up, he never quite understood who he was, or what he was supposed to be. He felt like an outsider in search of a community. He blames much of this difficulty on the fact that he didn't know his father: Obama's parents divorced when he was two years old, and his dad moved back to his native Kenya. Obama describes his father as a ghostly presence in his life, existing only in the stories his mother and grandparents would tell.

The only substantial time Obama spent with his father came when he was 10 years old, when his dad visited Hawaii. Although the two exchanged letters regularly, they never reunited before the senior Obama died in 1982.

Five years later, Obama visited his father’s village in Kenya, and met his grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. He wrote that the experience was transformative: "I saw that my life in America... was connected with this small plot of earth an ocean away, connected by more than the accident of a name or the color of my skin."

The New York Times called Dreams “evocative, lyrical, and candid,” and Time magazine said that it "may be the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician." The book became a best-seller, and the audiobook version even won Obama a 2006 Grammy Award!

Trivia[edit | edit source]


Here are some interesting things you might not know about America’s 44th President:

  • The name Barack means "one who is blessed" in Swahili, Obama’s father's native language.
  • Obama was the first U.S. President born in Hawaii. It became a state in 1959 — only two years before the future President was born!
  • While Obama lived in Indonesia as a boy, he had a pet ape named Tata.
  • In school, Obama was teased over his initials, BO. But later, he earned the nickname "O-Bomber" for his basketball skills.
  • As a young man in Hawaii, Barack Obama worked at a Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor.
  • While a student at Harvard Law School, Obama became the first African-American president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review.
  • When Barack and Michelle Obama met in 1989, they bonded over their shared love of Stevie Wonder. When the pair married three years later, the singer's "You and I" was their wedding song. Wonder's music formed an unofficial soundtrack to the Obamas' public life, too: It played at campaign rallies, the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and milestone birthdays—sometimes performed by the crooner himself. In 2014, President Obama awarded Wonder the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • As the father of two young daughters, Obama has read all of the Harry Potter books.
  • Obama has two Grammy awards, both for Best Spoken Word Album. They were awarded for the audio versions of his books, Dreams from My Father, in 2006, and The Audacity of Hope, in 2008. And he's not the only President with a Grammy: Bill Clinton has two, as well! Hillary Clinton also has one, for her 1997 book, It Takes a Village.
  • Obama’s favorite movies include Casablanca, The Godfather, and Lawrence of Arabia. His favorite books include the Bible and Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison.
  • Obama was the first President to use Twitter while in office. For most of his presidency, he tweeted using both a personal handle, @BarackObama, and the official White House account, @WhiteHouse. In May 2015, he sent the first tweet from the U.S. President's official Twitter account, @POTUS.

Quotables[edit | edit source]


Barack Obama's flair for oratory was central to his appeal both as a candidate and as President. He used speeches to communicate his priorities, his worldview, and ultimately, his legacy. Here is a sampling of his words:

  • “Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it's not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won't. It's whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.” — Campus Progress Annual Conference, 2006.
  • "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." — campaign speech, 2008.
  • "In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination — and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past — are real and must be addressed." — speech on race at the National Constitution Center, 2008.
  • "Where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can." — victory speech, 2008.
  • "All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort—a sustained effort—to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings." — speech delivered to the Muslim world, 2009.
  • "We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what's in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense." — Democratic National Convention speech, 2012.
  • "This is our first task — caring for our children. It's our first job. If we don't get that right, we don't get anything right. That's how, as a society, we will be judged." — prayer vigil after Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, 2012.
  • “Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity — the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.” — Farewell Address, 2017.

Myths[edit | edit source]


Politicians are often subjected to smears, half-truths and lies used to discredit them. When Barack Obama was running for President, he was slandered by a number of smears. Two of them were particularly nasty, and both were outright lies. But his political opponents worked hard to keep these rumors alive.

  • MYTH: The lie known as birtherism claimed that Obama wasn’t born in the United States, and is not a U.S. citizen. This would disqualify him from serving as President.
  • FACT: Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 4, 1961. This is confirmed by Obama's birth certificate, which has been made public, and by birth announcements that appeared in Honolulu’s two major newspapers. Moreover, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, has testified that Obama’s birth certificate is on file, and that Obama is a natural-born American citizen.
  • All of this has not stopped disbelievers from launching lawsuits claiming that Obama is a non-citizen, and should not have been allowed to serve as President. Every one of these suits has been thrown out in court.
  • MYTH: Obama is a Muslim, and attended a Muslim school in Indonesia.
  • FACT: Obama is a Christian. When he lived in Indonesia, he studied at both a Catholic school and a public one. Many of the public school’s students were Muslim because Indonesia has a large Muslim population. But it was not a religious school.
  • Obama joined Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ in the 1980s. He was married at the church, had his children baptized there, and attended weekly worship services for close to 20 years.

Why did these particular lies stick? It's difficult to pinpoint a single explanation, but here's one convincing theory: The rumors about Obama played on fears prevalent among certain sections of the American public. Prior to 2008, every President had been a white, Christian man. Obama's candidacy represented a major shift in American leadership: For the first time, the nominee of a major political party was an African-American man with a foreign-sounding name. Falsely claiming that Obama was a foreigner preyed upon the discomfort a segment of the population felt about this change. It validated their suspicions and unease, and gave them a concrete reason to oppose Obama's candidacy.

The claim that Obama is a Muslim wouldn't have disqualified his candidacy. But the peddlers of this lie suspected that it would damage Obama's reputation. For a variety of reasons, Islamophobia, fear of and prejudice against Muslims, has been on the rise in the U.S. Using such a smear against Obama didn't just damage his standing; it helped normalize the public expression of Islamophobia, making life more difficult for American Muslims.

Real life[edit | edit source]


As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama campaigned on a pro-LGBT rights platform. He entered office on a rising tide of popular opinion in favor of being more accepting of the LGBT community. Same-sex marriage was already legal in Massachusetts, and several states had authorized civil unions for gay couples.

For much of American history, being gay has been difficult and dangerous. Until the 1970s, the American Psychiatric Association classified homosexuality as a mental illness. Those who identified ad LGBT were considered disturbed or deviant. From the 1960s onward, they fought tirelessly for social acceptance and equal rights.

One key barrier was a ban on gays in the military. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed a law that offered a kind of compromise: Under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, members of the gay community could serve as long as they kept their sexual orientation a secret.

Over the next two decades, numerous militaries — including those of Canada, Israel, and Great Britain—began allowing gay soldiers to serve openly. During his 2008 campaign, Obama promised to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He followed through on December 22, 2010.

This paved the way for additional progress. In 2012, Obama publically stated his support of same-sex marriage. The next year, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman, faced a legal challenge. The case rose all the way to the Supreme Court, which struck down the law as unconstitutional.

Two years later, the Supreme Court went further. In Obergefell v. Hodges, it ruled that the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage. That same year, the President signed an Executive Order prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity for any federal contractors.

Thanks to Obama's support, as well as the tireless work of civil rights activists, America has made monumental strides in granting equality and respect to the LGBT community. These achievements form an essential part of the President's legacy.

Politics[edit | edit source]


To win elections, political parties must assemble a coalition, a collection of different interest groups with enough in common to vote for the same candidate. In a country as large and diverse as the United States, keeping coalitions together can be difficult. Case in point: the Republican Party (or GOP) during the Obama administration.

For decades, the GOP found success by appealing to a few core principles: traditional values, small government, and low taxes. Religious Americans appreciated the message of traditional values, conservatives favored small government, and a lot of people liked the idea of low taxes!

But in 2009, the coalition began to crack. Many conservatives had long felt that Republican leaders weren't committed to limiting the size of government. Believing that the GOP had lost its way, they came together under the banner of the Tea Party. Its main goals were to cut government spending and lower taxes. Enthusiastic Tea Party voters dominated the 2010 Republican primaries, nominating extreme candidates and voting out moderates who'd held their posts for years.

Those elections handed the GOP a majority in the House of Representatives. Many of the new congresspeople opposed any negotiation with Obama. As a result, government became mired in gridlock, or non-action.

By 2012, Congress's approval rating hit a record low. But in that year's Republican primaries, Tea Party influence resulted in another batch of conservative candidates. Even the GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, voiced ideas that were far to the right of the mainstream. This time, Republicans were punished at the polls: Obama won his re-election bid, and Democrats gained seats in Congress.

Mainstream Republicans believed they lost because the public wanted to see less obstruction from Congress. But many Tea Partiers came the to the opposite conclusion: They lost seats because voters wanted them to oppose Obama even more! In 2015, this extreme wing of Republicans dubbed themselves the Freedom Caucus. They spent the last two years of Obamas presidency obstructing him as much as they could.

Then in 2016, the GOP won the Presidency and both houses of Congress. With no more Democratic President to oppose, the Freedom Caucus began obstructing their own party! In early 2017, they tanked the first major GOP legislative effort, an attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act with a new healthcare bill. This was a major blow to the Republican leadership. A second healthcare bill made it through, but only time will tell whether the GOP coalition will hold or be permanently fractured.

FYI Comic[edit | edit source]


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