Barack Obama

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich
WUIS/Illinois Issues

In the same 35-day span, the world saw two remarkably different faces of the Land of Lincoln.

One was Barack Obama, savoring his historic win before more than 100,000 admirers in Chicago’s Grant Park, standing as a polished and inspiring symbol of change for Illinois and America, the first African-American president. A man of honesty, the masses hoped.

Presidential Poetry

Dec 1, 2008
Barack Obama
WUIS/Illinois Issues

In October, as Illinois’ adopted son Barack Obama rose in the national presidential polls, a group of Chicago poets gathered for an “Obama open mic,” as part of an event called Poets for a Better Country. Organized by Toi Derricotte and Judith Vollmer, poets and professors at the University of Pittsburgh, the event was held simultaneously in cities across the country, including Chicago, Falmouth, Mass., New York City, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. “As poets, we have a historic duty to express the unspoken passion, rage, desires and hopes of our country.

Dana Heupel
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Not long ago, I was complaining to a friend and colleague about a previous political campaign. “Why does it have to be so incredibly negative?” I grumbled. His simple reply: “It works.”

My friend, one of the better-known political writers in the state, is a pragmatist. He wasn’t endorsing the tactic; just stating a fact.

Well, it doesn’t work for me. After months of following the backs-and-forths of this year’s presidential campaign like a political tennis match, I am so sick of the negativity — from both camps — that I’m ready to check “None of the above” on the ballot.

Now that the Land of Lincoln — and Grant and Reagan — faces the possibility of another Illinois resident moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C., many Illinoisans want to know what a Barack Obama presidency would mean for his home state.

There is, of course, the obvious: Fellow Illinoisans would follow Obama to the White House to serve as advisers and aides; the nation would take a closer look at Illinois politics; and a presidential library eventually would draw tourists and academics after Obama left office. 
 

Barack Obama in February 2007 as he announces his intention to run for president
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Editor’s note: Barack Obama wrote this article for Illinois Issues in 1988, while he was a community organizer in Chicago. It later became part of a book, After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois, published by Illinois Issues in 1990. We are republishing it this month to show, in his own words, some of the Democratic presidential candidate’s earliest influences in Illinois.

 

Dan Fisher met Barack Obama only once. It was three years ago, when Obama stopped in Gillespie, a town about 50 miles south of Springfield, during his campaign for the U.S. Senate. As he left the stage, Obama turned to Fisher, who was standing nearby holding an empty beer cup. Their conversation lasted just a few minutes.

Obama: He puts ethics on the agenda

Feb 1, 2007

Barack Obama says the "extremely good fortune" that launched him, seemingly without effort, into the top tier of American politics has helped him steer clear of entanglements with special interests and donors.

"I'm not sure that's a typical experience. But it allows me even more independence now that I'm a sought-after politician because I get to talk to the voters directly," Obama said in an interview shortly after the November election.

Barack Obama's election to the U.S. Senate from Illinois may prove to be one of the most significant in American history. Perhaps not since the Senate election of 1858, when Stephen Douglas defeated Abraham Lincoln, has one Senate election had such an impact on the national leadership cadre. Although Lincoln lost that election, his speeches and debates with Douglas over slavery and the future of the Union ensured his place as a national leader of the young Republican Party and then as a leading contender for the Republican nomination in 1860.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Will he or won't he? By the time you read this, you're likely to know. But in mid-January, as we get the issue ready for the printer, we don't have that advantage — despite lots of telephone conversations with and e-mails from Dan Vock, who wrote our cover story out of D.C., Webgrams from any number of sources and early reports by Anderson Cooper. 

If next month's election turns out the way just about everyone expects, Illinois will send one Harvard-educated African American to Washington, D.C., and another back to Maryland.

In education and race, Barack Obama and Alan Keyes share common backgrounds. But the similarities stop there with these two competitors for the state's open U.S. Senate seat.

Pages