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Dreams and Audacity

(Originally published on Red Room on February 11th, 2008. Updated on January 20th, 2009.)

President Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois, is the newest author to join Red Room. We are honored and excited to welcome such an esteemed author whom many call the most inspiring new political voice to emerge in a generation. While most people are aware of President-elect Obama's incipient presidency, some may not know that he is also an accomplished and award-winning author of two books.Dreams From My Father

President Obama's first book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (1995, Three Rivers Press) is a memoir published after Obama was elected the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review, but before the birth of his political career. The book was rereleased following Obama's widely admired keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention; the 2004 edition includes a new introduction by Obama as well as his notable address. The audio version earned Obama a 2006 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album.

In Dreams from My Father, Obama tells the story of his life up to his entry into Harvard Law School. He was born in Honolulu to Harvard University-educated economist Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., of Kenya, and Ann Dunham of Wichita, Kansas. At the time of Obama's birth, both of his parents were students at the University of Hawaii. Obama's parents separated when he was two years old, and later divorced. In the absence of his father, Obama formed an image of his father from stories told by his mother and grandparents. After some years of elementary education abroad, Obama returned to Hawaii, where his first weeks in an American school made him conscious for the first time of racism and what it means to be an African American. At this point, his father came to visit him and his family; it was the last time that Obama would see him before his death in a car accident in 1982.

Dreams from My Father goes on to describe Obama's years adrift as a Los Angeles undergraduate, his maturity upon transferring to Columbia University, and his community organizing in the Altgeld Gardens housing project on Chicago's South Side. Obama recounts the difficulty of the experience as his efforts faced resistance from entrenched community leaders and apathy on the part of the established bureaucracy. He decided at that time that change would only come from direct participation in politics-in his case, by running for office. Before he left Chicago to attend Harvard Law, Obama decided to visit relatives in Kenya. The book concludes with an emotional scene in which Obama visits the graves of his father and paternal grandfather.Audacity of Hope

Obama was a candidate for the United States Senate when delivered the keynote address on the floor of the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Entitled The Audacity of Hope, the speech propelled him to national prominence. In 2006, Three Rivers Press published The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, a book-length account in which Obama expanded upon many of the same themes he originally expressed in the convention speech.

Upon its release, the Chicago Tribune called The Audacity of Hope a "political biography that concentrates on the senator's core values." The New York Times noted that it is "much more of a political document" than Dreams of My Father, "devoted to laying out Mr. Obama's policy positions on a host of issues, from education to health care to the war in Iraq." An excerpt from Obama's speech at the 2004 convention best encapsulates the message of The Audacity of Hope:

"In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism here—the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don't talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope!"

The book has remained on The New York Times Best Seller List since publication. The audio version recently won the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album.

Red Room author Ayelet Waldman recently wrote an exclusive account of a recent event where Obama inspired her and other authors. Since the primary and general elections, and the inauguration, many of our authors have been writing extensively (and from various points of view) on their Red Room blogs about the President. Red Room is thrilled to welcome the President to our community, and we encourage our members to visit Barack Obama's Author Page.

Huntington W. Sharp, Editor, Red Room

Read more Red Room original content.

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7 Comment count
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Welcome to Texas

Dear Senator Obama,

I have read your two books and my wife and I have voted for you in the Texas primary.
I am in the process of becoming a member-writer with Red Room. We are all thrilled that you joined.
I will be reading at the Artists for Obama on Thursday at Ruta Maya in San Antonio.
We are with you all the way. Congrats on your beautiful books and upcoming victory.

Peace, Robert Bonazzi

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Stupid Cancer Happy Hour

Barack, I am the Michigan Chapter leader for a young adult cancer foundation called "I'm Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation."  i[2]y, as we affectionately call it, uses a new, hip way to perform community outreach.  We call it Stupid Cancer Happy Hour.  We are throwing our first Michigan Stupid Cancer Happy Hour on 9/26 from 10pm-2am at Eden Nightclub in Ferndale.  The entire lower level of the club has been reserved for this event.  Here's a link to the RSVP site with all the details.  http://events.i2y.com/schh/2008/eden/ Would you consider stopping by to show your support?  I personally will be overjoyed to buy you a beer and hear your views on cancer and cancer research.  Since 1975, cancer survival has increased dramatically, except for the 18-39 age group.  It has remained completely unchanged because awareness and early detection are not embraced in this age group of young adults.  i[2]y is making it cool to talk about cancer...or at least removing as much of the stigma as we can.  We could sure use your help raising awareness for this event, which will provide many young adult cancer patients and survivors with a community that they can relate to.  Your mere presence would shine a spot light like no other on our event.  Our demographics are your soon-to-be voters. Thanks for considering my request.  BTW, you already have my vote! Regards, Donald A. Wilhelm, author This Time's a Charm; Lessons of a Four-Time Cancer Survivor www.thistimesacharm.com Leadership Council- Michigan Chapter, I'm Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation www.imtooyoungforthis.org

Regards, Donald A. Wilhelm, author This Time's a Charm; Lessons of a Four-Time Cancer Survivor

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i'm fascinated by the archivements of people of colour.BARACK OBOMA,PATRICE MOTSEPE,NELSON MANDELA and others whose names escape my mind, have proven that people are the same whether white or black. i'am black guy from south africa.the insecurities i see in people bother me a-lot,not only that but the closer of opportunities crack my believe in mankind.i would like to share my experiences with the global community, the only thing i'm short off is the plat-form. writing gives me pleasure.put words on paper helps me escape.even though many people have a love and hate relationship with america, i think countries like mine wont be able to survive without america.america is made by its people and no person is perfect but probably the change might do some-good,so im enthusiastic.

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Beauty in humanity

Yungsi Ernest Kiyah www.yungsibooks.com

I believe that the reason why we are all called the human race is because unlike animals, all humans are  equal. The issue of immigration still remains something that is creating a lot of sensation in the world though. That is why I wrote about it in "To immigrate or to live happily ever after-The Dilemma!" It is the story of one man with one dream but laced with many obstacles..the greatest being his greatest love!  its here http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore/ItemDetail~bookid~52987.aspx or here http://www.authorhouse.co.uk/BookStore/ItemDetail~bookid~52987.aspx

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Yes We Can! Yes We Did!

I don't know the author of this phrase, but I'd like to share it here:  "Rosa sat so Martin could walk.  Martin walked so Barack could run.  Barack ran so our children could fly."

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"We Need More Than Just Hope"

Let me first start by wishing you and your family a safe, happy, prosperous, and, productive New Year. I would also like to congratulate you on becoming the first black president of The United States of America. You speak a lot about hope which is a good thing but I would like to see hope change the paths leading to our children's future. Right now, today's youth are involved in so many things that will only hinder their growth like, gangs, bad company, and lack of Summer Youth Summer Jobs as well as After School Programs like we used to have back in the day. Sometimes, the streets too easily influence our youth so we should have positive outlets in the streets to steer their minds in a different more positive direction. Then there is the saying that goes, “Children are our Future.” Yet, their hard work and determination towards achieving a substantial future get shot down by the constant increase in tuition. The high cost of getting an education discourages a lot of today’s teens because the will and determination to succeed is there but the finances are not. The cost of getting an education is entirely too high.

With the many issues facing millions of families in the United States and helping in the journey towards our youth’s path to destruction as well as the poor mistreatment of our elderly, we will need more than just hope to achieve and accomplish a change.

As my saying goes,

"A Blind Person Can See, What Their Heart Already Know"



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President Obama in the Red Room!

Dear President Obama,

As a Burma activist and a minority person, I followed your campaign closely and voted for you.

Do you really have time to "come to the Red Room?"

I like your speeches and your selection of people.

I am a fan of yours and Michelle's and spoke to other fans in S.E. Asia.

I pray for health and long life for you and your family.

God bless.

Kyi May Kaung