One of the best things about finishing grad school is getting to catch up on books that I’ve wanted to read for 3 years! I just finished Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama.
It’s refreshing to read his words from before he received national fame. The book outlines his childhood, from being born in Hawaii, to his 3 years in Indonesia when his mom remarried, to high school years in Hawaii, and then his attempts to make it in NYC before going to Chicago to become a community organizer on the South Side, primarily with residents in a public housing complex.
The book has raw honesty, from various lifestyle choices that he made along the way, mistakes and victories in his personal and professional life, and the beginnings of consciousness of having dark skin in America and Chicago. The story concludes with meeting relatives for the first time in his father’s homeland of Kenya, where more puzzle pieces in his life seem to contradict rather than fit together – perhaps a prelude to how it is to live and relate to all the diverse needs in the United States.
Perhaps one of the most illuminating parts of the book are Obama’s firsthand accounts of the first time he heard of and then met Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the retired pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Of course, Rev. Wright now has the claim to fame of causing so much political unrest for Obama with his controversial statements. However, from the outset in conversations between the two, Wright made it clear to Obama that the congregation was not just about him as the pastor. It was about facilitating leadership among the congregation’s members, with all the various opinions and interests that make up such a large congregation.
I figure it’s great to read the firsthand words and accounts from anyone who is running in this election. His first book, written just out of law school, is a bit long-winded but it’s great to learn how one presidential candidate came of age and formed his consciousness.