Сетевая библиотекаСетевая библиотека
Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama David J. Garrow The definitive account of Barack Obama’s life before he became the 44th president of the United States – the formative years, confluence of forces, and influential figures who helped shaped an extraordinary leader and his rise – from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of ‘Bearing the Cross’.Barack Obama's keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention instantly catapulted the little-known state senator from Illinois into the national spotlight. Three months later, Obama would win election to the U.S. Senate; four years later he would make history as America’s first black president. Now, at the end of his second presidential term, David J. Garrow delivers the most compelling and comprehensive Obama biography – as epic in vision and rigorous in detail as Robert Caro’s ‘The Power Broker’.Moving around the globe, from Hawaii to Indonesia to the American Northeast and Midwest, ‘Rising Star’ meticulously unpacks Obama’s life, from his tumultuous upbringing in Honolulu and Jakarta, to his formative time as a community organizer on Chicago’s South Side, working in some of the roughest neighborhoods, to Cambridge, where he excelled at Harvard Law School, and finally back to Chicago, where he pursued his political destiny. In voluminous detail, drawn from more than 1,000 interviews and encyclopedic documentary research, Garrow reveals as never before the ambition, the dreams, and the all-too-human struggles of an iconic president in a sure to be news-making biography that will stand as the most authoritative account of Obama’s pre-presidential life for decades to come. COPYRIGHT (#u5a279e77-5327-5547-ab6a-eb750d6cc7ef) William Collins An imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 1 London Bridge Street London SE1 9GF WilliamCollinsBooks.com (http://www.WilliamCollinsBooks.com) This eBook first published in Great Britain by William Collins in 2017 Copyright © 2017 by David J. Garrow David J. Garrow asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Cover photograph © 1990 John Goodman A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins Source ISBN: 9780008229375 Ebook Edition © May 2017 ISBN: 9780008229382 Version: 2018-05-24 For Darleen, who endured Praise for Rising Star: ‘Phenomenal . . . one of the most impressive and important books of the year. It’s a masterwork of historical and journalistic research, Robert Caro-like in its exhaustiveness, and easily the most authoritative account of Obama’s pre-presidential life we’ve seen or are likely ever to see. It’s also a terrific read’ Politico ‘Revealing . . . Probing . . . [Garrow] tells us how Obama lived, and explores the calculations he made in the decades leading up to his winning the presidency’ Washington Post ‘Impressive . . . [A] deeply reported work of biography . . . Garrow made the inspired decision to open the book on the economically ravaged South Side of Chicago in 1980 – five years before Obama showed up as a novice community organizer – thus giving us a sidewalk-level view of the joblessness, environmental degradation and failing schools that formed day-to-day reality. We see right away what our hero is up against in his altruistic quest to “create change” . . . The depth of detail allows the reader to see familiar parts of this story with fresh eyes’ New York Times Book Review ‘[Contains] intriguing insight into the growing pains of a 20-something who would go on to become the leader of the free world’ Time ‘A tour de force . . . An epic triumph of personal and political biography’ New York Journal of Books ‘The authoritative biography of Barack Obama’s pre-presidential years . . . Illuminating . . . Impressively researched . . . Readers will be richly rewarded’ Library Journal ‘A convincing and exceptionally detailed portrait . . . Political history buffs will be fascinated’ Publishers Weekly ‘Garrow is a demon for research . . . Eminently solid . . . Consistently readable – an impressive work’ Kirkus Reviews CONTENTS Cover (#ubfc93148-327e-5a0e-b280-02ffd9251ab0) Title Page (#ucf8a2f78-415d-5501-ac26-d777f0cb7e17) Copyright Dedication (#u70d2c265-3935-5d3d-ac0b-73bf9f635009) Chapter One THE END OF THE WORLD AS THEY KNEW IT: CHICAGO’S FAR SOUTH SIDE MARCH 1980–JULY 1985 Chapter Two A PLACE IN THE WORLD: HONOLULU, SEATTLE, HONOLULU, JAKARTA, AND HONOLULU AUGUST 1961–SEPTEMBER 1979 Chapter Three SEARCHING FOR HOME: EAGLE ROCK, MANHATTAN, BROOKLYN, AND HERMITAGE, PA SEPTEMBER 1979–JULY 1985 Chapter Four TRANSFORMATION AND IDENTITY: ROSELAND, HYDE PARK, AND KENYA AUGUST 1985–AUGUST 1988 Chapter Five EMERGENCE AND ACHIEVEMENT: HARVARD LAW SCHOOL SEPTEMBER 1988–MAY 1991 Chapter Six BUILDING A FUTURE: CHICAGO JUNE 1991–AUGUST 1995 Chapter Seven INTO THE ARENA: CHICAGO AND SPRINGFIELD SEPTEMBER 1995–SEPTEMBER 1999 Chapter Eight FAILURE AND RECOVERY: CHICAGO AND SPRINGFIELD OCTOBER 1999–JANUARY 2003 Chapter Nine CALCULATION, COINCIDENCE, CORONATION: ILLINOIS AND BOSTON JANUARY 2003–NOVEMBER 2004 Chapter Ten DISAPPOINTMENT AND DESTINY: THE U.S. SENATE NOVEMBER 2004–FEBRUARY 2007 Epilogue THE PRESIDENT DID NOT ATTEND, AS HE WAS GOLFING Notes Bibliography Acknowledgments About the Author Also by David J. Garrow About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter One (#u5a279e77-5327-5547-ab6a-eb750d6cc7ef) THE END OF THE WORLD AS THEY KNEW IT (#u5a279e77-5327-5547-ab6a-eb750d6cc7ef) CHICAGO’S FAR SOUTH SIDE MARCH 1980–JULY 1985 Frank Lumpkin never forgot the first phone call that afternoon. Although he was off work that Friday with a broken foot, he had stopped by the pay office at Wisconsin Steel, where he’d labored for more than thirty years, to pick up checks totaling $8,084.57, money he was due in back vacation pay. He still had thirteen weeks of vacation coming, accumulated over five years, and he was about to take a long-planned trip to Africa. But March 28—“Black Friday,” as it would be called—was about to become absolutely unforgettable. Wisconsin Steel’s hulking metal sheds stretched south and a bit eastward from the intersection of Torrence Avenue and East 106th Street in a neighborhood that most residents called Irondale, even if Chicago city maps labeled it South Deering. William Deering was a long-forgotten industrialist who had cofounded International Harvester Company in 1902; Wisconsin’s oldest corporate ancestor, Brown’s Mill, dated from 1875 and had been South Chicago’s first steel plant. Six years later, Andrew Carnegie opened a larger mill just north from where the Calumet River flowed into Lake Michigan, and by the dawn of the twentieth century the southwestern crescent of that lakeshore, stretching from the Calumet eastward across the Indiana state line to Gary and Burns Harbor, had become the most dense concentration of steel mills in the world. Steelmaking was dangerous and strenuous work, as Frank Lumpkin well knew, but steelworkers had significant freedoms. “There were no time clocks, and they could come out for lunch,” a nearby barber recounted. “The workers figured that they could get their hair cut on company time because it grows on company time.” By 1980 the region’s mills had sustained generation after generation of working-class families whose breadwinners didn’t need to graduate high school to get jobs that paid three times what college graduates could earn as public school teachers. Frank and his wife Bea had raised four children during their thirty-one years of marriage, and they had just moved to South Shore, a middle-class neighborhood a bit northwest of where Carnegie’s mill—now United States Steel’s huge South Works—employed almost three times the 3,450 men who worked at Wisconsin. South Shore was a comfortable area for an interracial couple—Frank was black, Bea white—and tolerant too of a couple who had spent many years as dedicated members of the Communist Party USA. Frank’s fellow workers at Wisconsin—black, white, and Hispanic—didn’t view him as a radical, just an outgoing man who had worked his way up through the odd series of job titles a steel mill offered: chipper, scarfer, millwright. A little after 3:00 P.M. that Friday, Frank limped across Torrence Avenue to the Progressive Steel Workers (PSW) union hall, just north of 107th Street. The PSW was a so-called “independent” union, not part of the United Steelworkers of America or any labor federation, but it was actually no more “independent” than it was “progressive.” Its first president, William Reilly, was a Wisconsin steelworker, but he left his union post to become chief labor spokesman for International Harvester, Wisconsin Steel’s corporate owner. PSW’s current president, forty-three-year-old Leonard “Tony” Roque, had been in office since 1973, and he had engineered an almost 50 percent increase in union dues, increased his own salary by thousands of dollars, and was overseeing a $150,000 expansion of the union hall. Roque was widely seen as nothing more than a flunky for the political king of South Chicago, 10th Ward alderman Edward R. “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak, whose law firm received an annual retainer of $30,000 from the PSW and whose election campaigns the union also contributed to. Vrdolyak was a graduate of the University of Chicago’s highly prestigious law school, but some acquaintances remembered him more for the charge of attempted murder that had been filed against him, and then dropped, during his law school years. The phone call Frank would always remember came when he was speaking with union vice president Steve Plesha at about 3:30 P.M. The message was abrupt: Wisconsin Steel was closing, the workers were being sent home, and the gates were being locked. “He looked at me and I looked at him because I couldn’t believe it. I had just been there twenty minutes ago,” Frank recalled a decade later. What’s more, just the night before PSW had held a meeting where both Roque and Ronald K. Linde, board chairman of Wisconsin Steel’s new owner, Envirodyne Industries, had reassured some fifteen hundred members that reports about Wisconsin possibly closing were incorrect. But the 3:30 P.M. phone call should have been less surprising than it was. Three weeks earlier, Crain’s Chicago Business—in fairness, a publication not often read by South Chicago steelworkers—had reported that Wisconsin faced “imminent bankruptcy” because its former corporate owner, International Harvester, which still bought some 40 percent of its steel from Wisconsin for use in Harvester’s farm equipment, was increasingly crippled by an ongoing United Auto Workers strike that had begun on November 1, 1979. Ironically, November 1 had also been the date when Wisconsin’s new owner, Envirodyne Industries, secured a package of loans, guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), to modernize its plant. International Harvester had begun trying to sell Wisconsin in 1975, and for good reason: in 1976, Wisconsin lost $4.6 million, bringing its cumulative losses since 1970 to $77 million. By early 1977 Harvester was in serious discussions with Envirodyne, a tiny enterprise boasting just a dozen employees that focused on acquiring larger companies through stock swaps. Envirodyne had no experience in the steel industry and badly needed cash to cover an existing bank loan, but Harvester was willing to accept $50 million in notes, secured primarily by the two iron ore mines in upper Michigan, one ore ship, and coal properties in Kentucky that Wisconsin Steel also owned. More crucially, Chase Manhattan Bank was willing to provide $15 million in cash to Envirodyne. The Chicago Tribune labeled the purchase “a minnow trying to swallow a whale,” but nonetheless the sale closed on July 31, 1977, and Wisconsin’s hefty ongoing annual losses continued: $32 million on revenues of $236 million in the twelve months ending in September 1979. Thanks to EDA’s loan guarantees, six insurance companies provided $75 million, and Chase Manhattan ponied up another $15 million for current operating expenses. The Crain’s story went on to say that “without a strong infusion of working capital,” beyond the 1979 loans, “Wisconsin’s collapse is unavoidable,” and on March 27, the Chicago Tribune’s widely respected business editor, Richard Longworth, reported that the second $15 million from Chase had been expended and that the federal EDA would support additional money for Wisconsin only if International Harvester would advance Wisconsin new funds too. Harvester, which had recently sustained losses of $225 million during the first quarter of its 1979–80 fiscal year, worried that Wisconsin’s iron and coal mine assets were vulnerable to potential seizure by external creditors. Thus, earlier on March 28, Harvester foreclosed on those properties and the ore ship. But Harvester had failed to consult with Chase Manhattan before acting, and, according to Wisconsin plant manager George J. Harper, several hours later, Chase “impounded all our inventories and stopped all our shipments. At that point, we were literally dead,” Harper explained. “We had to start telling the workers that we were shut down.” As one employee recounted, “We got no warning of this closing at all. I was loading boxes and the foreman came up and just told me to go home. I figured they’d run into some kind of problem with the trucks.” As Harper remembered, “We just dumped them in the street with nothing to show for what they had done…. It was anything but honorable and anything but diplomatic…. It makes you feel sick inside.” Harper and the workers also didn’t know that Chase had frozen Wisconsin’s bank accounts. By 5:00 P.M., the foremen were instructed to tell the men on their shifts not to come back to work. Frank had returned home by that time, and his foreman telephoned him there. “Lumpkin,” he said, “don’t expect to come back to work. It looks bad.” By early Saturday morning, the news had spread to all of the workers and their families. One woman remembers being a fourteen-year-old girl when her father worked at Wisconsin. She never forgot her mother waking her on Saturday morning to tell her what had happened: “They called the ore boat back,” with the coast guard radioing it to return to South Chicago. “It was a crucial moment of rupture,” she explained, when the “widespread belief in future prosperity for oneself and one’s family” and the stability that flowed from that assumption was first called into question. Wisconsin’s closing “would tear through a fabric that had sustained generations” and portended “the collapse of the world as I had known it in Southeast Chicago.” For her dad, the mill’s demise “upended the world as my father knew it.” By midday on Monday, March 31, a sense of trauma, crisis, and fear had spread across the Southeast Side as people gradually realized that all of Friday’s paychecks were now worthless. Both of Envirodyne’s Wisconsin holding companies had filed for bankruptcy. One lawyer involved told Richard Longworth, “I pleaded with Chase to at least take care of those checks that bounced. Chase said they couldn’t see any legal responsibility. I told them there’s more than a legal responsibility involved here,” but that was rejected. Scores of other businesses—industrial suppliers closely tied to Wisconsin Steel and retail establishments patronized by Wisconsin workers—immediately began to suffer their own financial consequences. By Wednesday, April 2, the Daily Calumet was reporting that more than a thousand workers at Chicago Slag & Ballast and the Chicago West Pullman & Southern Railroad, both of which had serviced Wisconsin, had also lost their jobs. The Daily Cal’s editorial page predicted “a chain reaction within the community” as “unemployment will spread forth from the plant,” and warned its readers to grasp “the all-too-real possibility” that Wisconsin “might never reopen.” If so, “in a short time, the life and breath of the community will cease to exist, and the neighborhood will be as dead as Wisconsin Steel.” Each day the news grew worse. Before the week was out, the Daily Cal was reporting a total of “nearly 7,000 ‘ripple effect’ layoffs” by employers whose businesses had been tied to Wisconsin. The federal bankruptcy court authorized the EDA to spend up to $1 million to purchase the coal that was necessary to avoid shutting down the coke ovens—which once cooled become unstable and are impossible to restart—but as Easter weekend began, former Wisconsin workers complained that there was a two-week lag in unemployment checks, that food stamp applications were being rejected if children did not have Social Security numbers, and that Wisconsin wouldn’t let them into the plant to get their personal tools and work shoes. “All I feel now is hatred,” one worker told John Wasik, the Daily Cal reporter who was chronicling the debacle. South Chicago Savings Bank announced a three-month moratorium for Wisconsin borrowers with outstanding loans, and offered new emergency loans to the former workers too. The Daily Cal warned that “the longer the plant sits idle, the greater are the chances it will never reopen…. At stake is more than dollars and cents, more than jobs and employment … there are people at stake.” One voice that remained utterly silent even as the crisis moved into its third week was PSW president Tony Roque. But on Wednesday, April 16, about thirty men went first to the Chicago office of the federal National Labor Relations Board, and then to the Illinois State Department of Labor to complain about the PSW’s utter passivity, only to be told they should file claims in bankrupty court. Their efforts made the front page of the next day’s Daily Cal, and the story concluded by telling interested workers to call Frank Lumpkin at home. Roque responded immediately by sending letters to every member announcing a general meeting on Sunday, April 27—in the ballroom of the mammoth Chicago Hilton hotel, in the downtown “Loop,” more than fifteen miles north of South Deering. The PSW’s Hilton meeting generated angry jibes—“Why have they rented the Hilton when their members can’t even buy food?” one wife asked the Tribune’s Richard Longworth—but when testimony in the federal bankruptcy case revealed that workers’ compensation coverage for the skeleton crew manning the coke ovens and blast furnace had ended on April 1, the PSW struck Wisconsin, pulling those workers from the plant. Only the EDA’s willingness to pay the $35,000 a week in natural gas costs prevented the coke ovens from going cold. As Wisconsin’s final death rattle was sounding, two progressive Chicago clergymen—Father Tom Joyce, a Claretian priest who directed the Claretians’ Peace and Justice Committee, and Dick Poethig, director of the Presbyterian Church’s Institute on the Church in Urban Industrial Society, decided to attend a mid-May gathering at St. Thomas More College in Covington, Kentucky, a “National Conference on Religion and Labor.” One of the featured speakers was Presbyterian minister Rev. Chuck Rawlings, who talked about his recent experience as principal organizer of the Ecumenical Coalition of the Mahoning Valley (ECMV), in northeastern Ohio. As they listened to Rawlings, Tom Joyce and Dick Poethig could tell how similar the effects of the closing of Wisconsin were to what had occurred near Youngstown, Ohio, three years earlier. They also recognized that it had been clergymen, not union leaders, business interests, or elected officials, who had led the local community’s response. On September 19, 1977, the Lykes Corporation announced the closing of Campbell Works, with a loss of more than forty-one hundred jobs. When Chuck Rawlings, who worked for the Church and Society department of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, heard of the closing, he called Episcopal bishop John H. Burt, who in turn phoned James W. Malone, the Roman Catholic bishop of Youngstown. An interfaith breakfast was convened, and Rawlings circulated a memorandum calling for church leaders to confront the steel crisis. In the meantime, Youngstown attorney Staughton Lynd contacted the Washington-based National Center for Economic Alternatives (NCEA), whose codirectors, Gar Alperovitz and Jeff Faux, believed the shutdown called for an infusion of investment capital from the federal government, which would require an “unusual political mobilization” featuring “a dramatic local and national moral campaign.” In a New York Times op-ed essay, Alperovitz and Faux called for a Tennessee Valley Authority–style “development corporation” with “mixed community and employee ownership” to oversee such a federal investment. Rawlings’s band of Ohio bishops and pastors called themselves the Ecumenical Coalition of the Mahoning Valley (ECMV), and they convened a “Steel Crisis Conference,” at which Alperovitz was the featured speaker. Out of that came “A Religious Response to the Mahoning Valley Steel Crisis,” which was signed by more than two hundred clergy members. In this pastoral letter, the clergymen echoed Alperovitz in declaring that “this is not in any sense a purely economic problem.” They were “convinced that corporations have social and moral responsibilities,” and said they were “seriously exploring the possibility of community and/or worker ownership” of a reopened Campbell Works. U.S. Steel chairman Edgar Speer condemned their efforts as “nothing short of a Communist takeover,” but ECMV, taking advantage of $335,000 in federal support from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, commissioned Alperovitz to undertake a six-month study to determine if Campbell could be reopened. National newspapers like the Times and the Washington Post covered the effort, especially once Alperovitz announced a preliminary finding that about $500 million would allow Campbell to reopen with about half of its prior workforce. But White House aides to President Jimmy Carter would support only $100 million and quietly asked Harvard Business School professor Richard S. Rosenbloom to evaluate Alperovitz’s analysis while postponing any decision until after the November 1978 midterm elections. In March 1979, the White House notified the ECMV that their proposal had been rejected. Chuck Rawlings thought he and his colleagues had been “naive” to expect federal help, especially when Youngstown parishioners had remained far more silent than their pastors, but when Tom Joyce and Dick Poethig spoke with Rawlings after his presentation at the May 1980 conference about Wisconsin’s demise, his advice was decisive—“Go back and organize!”—and Tom and Dick agreed to do just that. Joyce knew even before he returned to Chicago that the first person he would contact was Leo Mahon. Fifty-four years old at the time of Tom’s call, Mahon had been pastor of St. Victor Roman Catholic Church in Calumet City, the first suburb just south of Chicago’s southeastern city limits, since 1975. Mahon had been ordained a priest of the Chicago archdiocese in 1951. Early on, he worked with Puerto Rican parishioners and learned Spanish while also rubbing shoulders with a young community organizer named Nicholas von Hoffman and von Hoffman’s well-known mentor, Saul Alinsky, the father of community organizing. Within a few years, Mahon became head of the archdiocese’s Committee for the Spanish Speaking, which planned to start a mission in Panama. Archbishop Albert Cardinal Meyer, whom Leo adored, chose Mahon to lead it, and in early 1963 Leo left for Panama, where he spent the next twelve years. The San Miguelito mission flourished under Leo’s leadership, but government officials took a dim view of his pastoral defense of human rights, and pliable Catholic leaders in Panama twice put Leo on trial for heresy. After Cardinal Meyer died, in early 1965, the Vatican named St. Louis native John Patrick Cody as his successor, and Cody was far less supportive of Leo’s work. When Leo returned from Panama to Chicago in 1975, Cody, perhaps out of fear of Mahon’s possible radicalism, refused to take advantage of his Spanish and Latin American expertise and instead “exiled him” to Calumet City. Leo had left San Miguelito despondent, knowing that Cody’s attitude meant his long-standing expectation of becoming a bishop would come to naught, but at St. Victor Mahon found a core of energetic and committed young adult parishioners with whom he quickly bonded. Father Leo was “a breath of fresh air,” Jan Poledziewski recalled, selecting female altar servers and using the Sunday Bulletin to advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment. “He empowered laypeople” and “everyone just adored him,” Christine Gervais remembered. “He was such a charismatic person that if he asked you to do something, you just couldn’t wait to help him out.” Sometime in late May 1980, Tom Joyce and Dick Poethig met Leo at St. Victor and asked him to lead a clergy effort to respond to Wisconsin’s closing. “It was quite obvious that the man to see was Leo,” Tom later explained. “Right away, within five minutes, he says, ‘Yes, we’ve got to do something about it.’ ” Dick Poethig remembered it similarly: “He had the right feeling, right off the bat.” The three clergymen agreed they would invite some ecumenical colleagues on both sides of the nearby Illinois–Indiana state line to an initial meeting at St. Victor on Friday, June 6. Come that day, sixteen clergymen and four laypeople joined the initial trio at St. Victor, and, as Joyce wrote in a memo the next day, reached “unanimous agreement that the Church or the parishes and congregations should organize in an effort to get some community say into the steel mill closings.” On June 23, nine of them again assembled at St. Victor, with Tom Joyce stating that their “only model” was the clergy response in Youngstown. He went on to say that the community deserved to have “a modernized, efficient, competitive steel industry” based upon “modernization of the present plants.” At a third meeting on July 7, they chose August 23 as the date to host “a workshop for key leadership people in the community, labor and church.” For that session, Leo emphasized that their effort must not be seen as simply pro-union but instead be “distinctly a religious response.” Later on July 7, Frank Lumpkin and twenty-four other former Wisconsin workers assembled at the union hall of United Steel Workers Local 65—which represented employees at U.S. Steel’s huge but shrinking South Works—and signed a declaration that “we are tired of waiting” and that action was needed “Now.” When contractors for Chase Manhattan Bank tried on July 22 to remove the existing steel inventory, which Chase had arranged to sell for $16 million, from the Wisconsin site, angry former workers blocked the plant gates; on August 5, when contractors sought to remove a crane, the ex-workers prevented that too. On Monday night, July 28, Frank Lumpkin’s group of workers, now calling themselves the Save Our Jobs Committee (SOJC), were joined by Mary Gonzales, a Chicago native in her late thirties who, with her new husband, Greg Galluzzo, had begun working in the Southeast Side communities just before Wisconsin’s demise. Gonzales and Galluzzo had first met eight years earlier, when Greg was a Jesuit seminarian working for Chicago’s Pilsen Neighbors Community Council and Mary was married with several young children. By 1979, Mary was a single mother of three daughters and Greg was leaving the priesthood, and late that year Mary was hired by the Latino Institute as director of advocacy while Greg was working for the Illinois Public Action Council (IPA), which traced its organizational roots back to Saul Alinsky, who had died in 1972. Together they began to work in the Southeast Side’s increasingly Hispanic—primarily Mexican—neighborhoods, but as of February 1980, when they married, their only office in South Chicago was their car. Mary and Greg went person by person through South Chicago, focusing on its Catholic parishes. Their long-range goal was to have “a citywide coalition” of permanent, neighborhood-based advocacy groups. By early March, they had conducted scores of one-on-one interviews, established contact with five parishes, and had five small nascent groups of residents meeting and talking. Mary’s father had worked at Wisconsin Steel for thirty-five years, never missing a single day, before dying of brain cancer at age sixty-two. Mary had not heard any advance rumors about Wisconsin closing, but when it did, “it just reverberated through that whole neighborhood,” with thousands of families losing all of their health care coverage. Doing one-on-one interviews all across South Chicago, she recalled years later, the most common refrain was “I don’t have a doctor.” By June, their new organization had a name—the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) of Southeast Chicago—and Mary had drafted a proposal to circulate to potential funders. Wisconsin’s demise had created not only “tremendous unemployment,” but also “psychological pressure on families.” Life “has changed in a shattering fashion,” and more than two dozen people out of the several hundred they had approached were now actively participating in the nascent UNO. “The staff’s main function will be to train leadership,” Mary’s proposal said, and they hoped to publicly launch UNO as a southeast-wide organization within eighteen months. “Never since the Depression has this community been hit so hard.” Leo Mahon’s August 23 conference at Calumet College in Whiting, Indiana—just across the state line from southeastern Chicago’s largely white East Side—was a four-hour event that attracted a good crowd and good press coverage. Leo presented a vision that was grand, or grandiose, given how little he knew about Chuck Rawlings’s unsuccessful effort to save Youngstown’s steel economy. A statement issued on behalf of the conveners asked how management “can morally justify divestiture” in light of “its unwillingness to invest its profits” to modernize antiquated plants. They went on to say that local parishioners must force “the industry to see its responsibility to the community rather than simply to shareholders,” yet Leo confessed to a reporter, “I had one of my parishioners tell me we’re two years too late.” The conveners believed the conference gave them “a mandate to organize a permanent structure,” and Dick Poethig imagined they might attract $60,000 in support from the Presbyterian Church and a combined $35,000 from Cardinal Cody and the Catholic bishop of nearby Gary, Indiana. Leo suggested they name themselves the Calumet Religious Community Conference—soon changed to Calumet Community Religious Conference, or CCRC—and that they hire Roberta Lynch, who had contacted him when she heard about his efforts to mobilize the community in response to Wisconsin’s closing; Roberta had two uncles who were priests in Panama, so she had long heard of Leo Mahon. Roberta brought experience from working for progressive Southeast Side Illinois state representative Miriam Balanoff. By the end of August, CCRC hired Roberta as its first staff member, at a salary of $500 a month. Two days after CCRC’s conference, the PSW’s attorney informed the federal bankruptcy court that PSW, Chase Manhattan, and International Harvester had reached agreement that Chase would cover 100 percent of the March 28 checks that had bounced—$1.3 million, including vacation pay—and 30 percent of an additional one week’s wages—some $1.1 million—that Wisconsin workers were owed contractually. An earlier offer of just the $1.3 million had been rejected seventeen hundred to sixty-two, but the new deal elicited an angry protest by several hundred workers because this agreement also cleared the way for Chase to sell the accumulated inventory that the workers had previously blocked. The Tribune reported that these workers “also marched on their union headquarters,” but Tony Roque “refused to meet with them.” During September, reports spread that Thomas Fleming, a businessman who had helped Envirodyne acquire Wisconsin Steel, had encouraged an African American friend, Walt Palmer, to pursue reopening the mill. Savvy journalists were highly dubious, but on October 6 Palmer, Tony Roque, and Chicago mayor Jane Byrne appeared before what the Tribune called “1,500 cheering steelworkers” at the downtown Auditorium Theatre to announce that Wisconsin Steel would reopen on November 1. Byrne stated that President Carter—just four weeks away from a tight reelection face-off against Ronald Reagan—had said federal support was available, and “as soon as there’s agreement on the financial plan presented by Mr. Palmer, you can count on the steel mill opening.” According to the Tribune’s Richard Longworth, Palmer was “a mesmerizing speaker,” who received “a standing ovation” from the workers, many of whom “had tears of joy in their eyes as they left.” But it was only a political chimera, and nothing more. By the end of October Byrne was claiming that the government would loan $10 million to rehabilitate Wisconsin’s coke oven, but she admitted that Walt Palmer was “no longer in the picture.” CCRC’s efforts to become an active organization met with mixed success, as Roberta Lynch was having trouble organizing groups of parishioners. At the CCRC Steering Committee’s monthly meeting, she said that “getting people involved at the congregation level is taking much more time than we had originally anticipated.” Neither the bishop of Gary nor Cardinal Cody had offered any firm financial support, and as 1980 was ending, CCRC’s clergymen worried that “a fully-staffed and functional organization” would not be in place prior to 1982, and they reduced Roberta’s work to just half-time. By the end of October, Mary Gonzales and Greg Galluzzo had a small UNO office in the heart of South Chicago’s commercial district. On Thanksgiving, in full alliance with Frank Lumpkin’s Save Our Jobs Committee (SOJC), UNO staged its first protest action as thirty former Wisconsin workers, and their families, descended upon the “Gold Coast” block where Jane Byrne lived in a forty-third-floor condominium apartment, chanting, “The mayor is a turkey.” Much of Mary’s work focused on organizing parents at an overcrowded elementary school to push for construction of a new building. By the outset of 1981, she and Greg had won financial support for UNO from Tom Joyce’s Claretian Social Development Fund and also from two small, progressive Chicago funders, the Wieboldt Foundation and the Woods Charitable Fund, the latter of which had just hired its first staffer, a young woman named Jean Rudd. At CCRC’s first monthly meeting in early 1981, Roberta Lynch echoed something Dick Poethig had said two months earlier: “there is still not a widespread sense of crisis about the steel industry in our area.” What’s more, she admitted, “the vagueness of CCRC’s program makes it difficult for people to see what they might accomplish by getting involved.” Dick Poethig suggested that CCRC mount “a mortgage-protection campaign to prevent the unemployed in the region from losing their homes” and pursue “state legislation calling for advance notice of a plant closing” plus state funding “for retraining the unemployed.” A CCRC training session in mid-February allowed Roberta to describe why she, like Leo, rejected Saul Alinsky’s confrontational approach to community organizing. She said they would not use a model where “you find a target, you look for ways to bring people quickly into confrontation with it” yet only “on a very narrow … basis … looking to win a very quick victory.” The CCRC, she said, should not be “deluding people” with any easy victory “to get this or that” because that “isn’t going to have meaning in terms of what the real problems are.” Instead, since the church is “a tremendously vital and important force,” reaching out to “clergy people in every congregation in the region” would allow CCRC to become “an organization that can go to U.S. Steel and say we represent 200 churches, 50,000 people in the Calumet region.” But so far congregations’ responses had been “very mixed,” since “one of the big problems we have is just … convincing people that a problem exists.” In a subsequent memo, Roberta again emphasized how CCRC needed “to identify an initial program,” for “a concrete focus is essential if we are to convince people to work with us.” Investing time made sense to parishioners only if they believed it was “building toward something that will have an actual impact,” and she confessed, “I have certain hesitations about whether we will really be capable of carrying out sustained activity.” Early in 1981 the federal bankruptcy court awarded title to the Wisconsin Steel site to the federal EDA. The EDA imagined selling the plant, perhaps for use as a “mini-mill” that would employ less than half of Wisconsin’s onetime work force, but everyone realized that with Ronald Reagan’s inauguration, the chances of federal action to prop up antiquated steel plants had vanished. Nonetheless, Frank Lumpkin announced that 150 former Wisconsin workers would travel to Washington, D.C., to lobby for federal action. Frank estimated that only 10 percent of the ex-employees had found new jobs, and he stressed that all benefits had now run out. When the workers visited the House gallery, six members of Congress rose to speak on their behalf, including Chicago’s Harold Washington. In April, Roberta Lynch resigned to pursue a full-time job. CCRC continued to meet for the rest of 1981, but without even a part-time paid staffer, little meaningful outreach activity was taking place. In stark contrast, Mary and Greg’s UNO of Southeast Chicago was receiving funding commitments from multiple sources ranging from the United Way of Metro Chicago and the Chicago Community Trust to the Wieboldt Foundation and the Roman Catholic Church’s national Campaign for Human Development (CHD), a then relatively low-profile program with a social-action support mission very similar to Tom Joyce’s much smaller Claretian program. Mary also contacted Jean Rudd at the Woods Fund, and by the end of 1981 UNO had scheduled a large ceremony for May 8 to publicly launch the organization. Similarly, Frank Lumpkin and his Save Our Jobs Committee, with UNO acting as their fiscal agent, successfully approached small foundations such as the Crossroads Fund for modest support to ensure SOJC’s future. More significantly, thanks to progressive attorney and legendary former Chicago alderman Leon Despres, Frank secured the pro bono services of a savvy young attorney, Tom Geoghegan, so that from mid-1981 onward, SOJC would be an increasingly active participant in the legal arm-wrestling about liability for Wisconsin Steel’s demise. Most important, by early 1982 Greg Galluzzo had added to UNO’s staff a thirty-one-year-old organizer who quickly found his way to Calumet City to introduce himself to Leo Mahon. Jerry Kellman had grown up in the New York City suburb of New Rochelle, drifted through two years of college, first in Madison, Wisconsin, and then Portland, Oregon, and by 1971 was undergoing Alinsky-style training by the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) staff, the truest—and most aggressive—disciples of the late community organizing guru. That training led to organizing assignments in Chicago, suburban DuPage County, Philadelphia, and Lincoln, Nebraska, where he put together a citizens coalition made up primarily of one congregation’s parishioners. By 1979, Kellman was back in Chicago and in graduate school, first at Northwestern and then at the University of Chicago. Galluzzo knew immediately that he wanted to add Kellman’s faith-based organizing expertise to UNO’s expanding work on the Southeast Side. In February 1982, Leo told Tom Joyce, Dick Poethig, and his other colleagues about Kellman, and they agreed to invite him to CCRC’s next meeting. The organization’s bank account balance totaled $473, but UNO and the Latino Institute had Kellman’s salary covered and within four weeks Jerry, Mary, and Greg sent Leo a detailed three-page memo titled “Our Suggestions for a Church-Based Organization in the Calumet Region.” “We agree with you that the Calumet Region needs organizing if it is to avoid becoming an economic wasteland,” they wrote, but there were two essential challenges: first, “how to organize enough strength to change the situation, rather than set people up for still another defeat,” and second, “how to sustain the organizing over an extended period of time by developing the parish as a community through the organizing process.” The trio wanted to expand UNO’s Catholic-parish-based organizing from Chicago’s Hispanic neighborhoods southward into parishes in majority-white suburban towns like Calumet City, with Kellman doing that outreach. Once a core group of at least ten parishes was organized, the effort could expand to Protestant churches. Funding for the expansion could be sought from CHD and foundations like Woods and Wieboldt, so that by 1984–85 Kellman could add staff to do “leadership development within each parish and congregation.” Then those parishes could “come together for common programs which affect the entire region. The issues start small, but grow progressively larger as the organization grows stronger and as the leaders become increasingly sophisticated.” Leadership training would be ongoing, and “the professional staff is there to share what they know, not to make the leadership dependent on them.” Leo took their proposal to his CCRC colleagues, telling them, “I feel that this is the kind of direction our organization must take.” He half-humorously told his own parishioners that “the talk around Calumet City … is that the parish of St. Victor’s is openly going ‘Communist.’ ” Frank Lumpkin, the actual Communist, was continuing his work for SOJC, and the Tribune’s Richard Longworth published a moving profile of Frank and his colleagues, in which Frank estimated that five hundred former Wisconsin workers had left town, fifteen hundred were still unemployed, and twelve hundred or so, including his friend Daniel “Muscles” Vitas, had found some type of new job, Vitas as a school crossing guard. UNO’s May 8 founding convention was “a sight of such inspiration that few will forget it,” observed Father Tom Cima, UNO’s new board chairman and pastor of Our Lady Gate of Heaven Parish in Jeffery Manor—a primarily black middle-class neighborhood located between South Chicago and South Deering. UNO and SOJC collaborated in a downtown protest at which marchers chanted “We want jobs,” and progressive Catholic clergy throughout Chicagoland—as most residents called the metropolitan area—were overjoyed when on July 10 Joseph Bernardin, the liberal archbishop of Cincinnati, was named archbishop of Chicago, succeeding the widely reviled John Patrick Cody, who had died on April 25. Of seemingly lesser consequence, in the summer of 1982 Mary and Greg’s corps of southeastern Chicago organizers received a new recruit. The twenty-two-year-old Bob Moriarty had grown up in an Irish working-class Chicago suburb, and during his junior year at Northwestern University in Evanston, the town just north of Chicago, he had taken a community organizing seminar taught by a professor named John McKnight. A fifty-year-old Ohio native and navy veteran, McKnight had worked for the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, directed the Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and headed up the Midwest office of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In the latter role, McKnight had been in the room when Martin Luther King Jr. negotiated a much-criticized end to his 1966 civil rights protests that had roiled Chicago, and from that post, McKnight had moved to Northwestern. Beginning in the mid-1970s, McKnight wrote a series of influential articles on how service economies reduce citizens to consumers and clients. Writing first in the Christian Century in 1975, McKnight explained that each time a social problem, or need, is identified, “citizens have an increased sense of deficiency and dependence.” Two years later, McKnight expanded on that analysis and argued that service economies “are peopled with service producers and service consumers—professionals and clients.” The former controlled the relationship, and “the client is less a person in need than a person who is needed” in order to justify the salary or income of the provider. As “the interpretation of the need necessarily becomes individualized,” it disables “the capacities of citizens to perceive and deal with issues in political terms.” By 1979, McKnight had honed his analysis further. “A service economy needs ‘deficiency,’ ‘human problems,’ and ‘needs’ if it is to grow…. This economic need for need creates a demand for redefining conditions as deficiencies” and “the power to label people deficient and declare them in need is the basic tool of control and oppression.” As government social welfare bureaucracies expand, “the professional servicers now receive more money for their help than the recipients receive in cash grants.” Quite possibly, McKnight contended, “there are more people in Chicago who derive an income from serving the poor than there are poor people…. The welfare recipient is the raw material for the case workers, administrators, doctors, lawyers, mental health workers, drug counselors, youth workers, and police officers. Do the servicers need the recipient more than she needs them? … Who really needs whom?” McKnight believed that professionals willing to cast aside their own self-interest must commit themselves “to reallocation of power to the people we serve so that we no longer will need to serve.” John McKnight was unquestionably the most influential social analyst in 1980s Chicago, and he brought Bob Moriarty to organizing. But Greg Galluzzo thought the twenty-two-year-old Moriarty was too young for the congregation-based organizing that UNO was moving toward under Jerry Kellman’s tutelage, so by September 1982 Moriarty was going door to door in South Deering, just like Mary Gonzales had in South Chicago two years earlier. Moriarty’s job was to warn residents that Waste Management Incorporated (WMI), a huge garbage conglomerate that already operated a four-hundred-acre landfill farther south, below 130th Street, had just applied for a city permit to open a new landfill on the 289-acre “Big Marsh,” located just south of 110th Street and west of Torrence, only a few blocks from residents’ homes and the Bright Elementary School on South Calhoun Avenue. One day Bob knocked on the door of a home on 108th Street, hardly four blocks from the now-shuttered gates of the Wisconsin Steel plant. Moriarty introduced himself to a woman named Petra Rodriguez, who was interested in his information, but Rodriguez also had a hugely consequential recommendation for him: “You should meet my daughter.” And so Bob walked around the corner to her home at 10814 South Hoxie Avenue and brought to Chicago organizing the most important recruit of the decade. The next eight years of Chicago politics would be different because he did so. Mary Ellen Rodriguez Montes was a twenty-four-year-old stay-at-home mother of three young children. In Spanish, her name was Maria Elena, but to her family, and to the young organizers she would work with, she was simply Lena. “She was very smart, very beautiful, very tough,” Bob remembered, and a “quite extraordinary person,” another organizer explained. A priest who knew Lena well recalled her as “a real dynamo. She was also very attractive: great charisma and personality and very engaging.” Lena easily recalled Bob’s first visit: “I remember him coming to the door.” She knew about the Love Canal environmental disaster near Niagara Falls, New York, and Chicago newspapers were reporting that a company called SCA Chemical Services had asked the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) for permission to move toxic chemical waste from downstate Illinois to an incinerator located at 11700 South Stony Island Avenue, just southwest of where WMI wanted to locate its landfill. Lena and her husband Ray agreed to host the first meeting of Bob’s recruits in their second-floor living room. Another young stay-at-home mom who attended was Alma Avalos. One year younger than Lena, she had grown up on Petra Rodriguez’s block and now had two young children. Bob, Lena, and Alma then spent the next several weeks recruiting other South Deering residents to protest against the two facilities. Before the end of October they were ready to act. They wanted a public meeting, in South Deering, with IEPA director Richard Carlson, but they got no response. Then Moriarty, along with another organizer, Phil Mullins, who had come to UNO from Pilsen, suggested taking a busload of residents, along with their children, to Governor James R. Thompson’s office in downtown Chicago. Arming the children with sticky caramel apples, the group made its way to the governor’s suite via an unsecured back stairway. With Lena and Alma in the lead, the group said they weren’t leaving until they spoke to Carlson. Unhappy staffers got Carlson on the phone, and he promised a meeting, but by the upcoming Election Day, November 2, one still had not been scheduled. Jerry Kellman happened to know where the governor voted, so another bus trip was scheduled for what turned out to be a chilly, rainy day. After a wait of several hours, Thompson’s limousine finally appeared, and the group dashed toward him brandishing picket signs. With plenty of journalists looking on, a public meeting was quickly promised. Four weeks later, on the evening of December 6, Carlson traveled to the Trumbull Park Fieldhouse, on South Deering’s northwestern flank, to speak to a crowd of more than two hundred residents. Moriarty and his recruits had prepared carefully for the session. They were concerned, however, by the presence of Foster Milhouse, a well-known precinct captain in Alderman Vrdolyak’s 10th Ward political organization and a leader of the old-line South Deering Improvement Association (SDIA), a group that traced its roots back to an infamous August 1953 race riot. When the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) accidentally assigned one black family to the housing project that adjoined Trumbull Park, SDIA’s membership responded with violence. After more African American families moved in during the next four years, even greater violence erupted in July 1957. When Milhouse began heckling at the outset of the December 6 meeting, Moriarty’s recruits responded quickly. “We call him Judas,” Moriarty remembered, and “they just jeer him out of the hall … ‘Judas, Judas, Judas.’ ” Once Milhouse was dispensed with, Carlson quickly agreed to the residents’ requests, but it was Lena who emerged as the star of the evening. “I somehow kind of like blossomed in this room,” she remembered. “I actually enjoyed it,” and indeed “felt called to it.” Also present was her husband Ray, who “really had an interest in being a lead person” and who “seemed a little bit upset about it,” Lena explained, when his wife emerged as the residents’ lead spokesperson. Ray “was a decent guy, but really insecure,” Bob recalled, and Alma described it similarly: “jealousy.” Carlson’s appearance put their group on the map, and by the end of the year, they had chosen a name to distinguish themselves from the larger UNO: Irondalers Against the Chemical Threat, or IACT. In February 1983, a wary Alderman Vrdolyak met with them about WMI’s proposed landfill. Lena recalled that he “met with us on the site of Waste Management’s proposed dump and from where we stood, we could see our homes. He said, ‘Gee, I didn’t realize that it was this close to the houses.’ I said, ‘Does this mean you’re going to oppose it?’ And he said, ‘Oh no, I’ll reconsider and get back to you.’ Well, he never did get back to us.” In the meantime, when incumbent mayor Jane Byrne, whom Vrdolyak energetically backed, finished second in the Democratic mayoral primary on February 22, Vrdolyak’s political fortunes took a turn for the worse. Byrne got 33 percent, and Cook County State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley—a son of the late Richard J. Daley, Chicago’s powerful mayor from 1955 until his death in late 1976—placed third with 30 percent. The upset winner was African American congressman Harold Washington, who rode a tidal wave of enthusiasm among black voters to a 36 percent plurality. Washington still had to win the general election against Republican former state legislator Bernard Epton, and the racial symbolism of Chicago electing its first black mayor—or white voters uniting to stop it—cast the contest in starkly racial terms. Washington visited the IACT activists at Bright School on March 29, and on April 12, he narrowly edged Epton, winning 51.7 percent against the Republican’s 48 percent. Analysts concluded that only 12.3 percent of the city’s white voters, primarily from the generally liberal lakefront wards, voted for Washington. Seventeen days later, on April 29, 1983, Chicago’s first black mayor took office. Throughout the latter part of 1982 and the first five months of 1983, the outlook for Southeast Side steelworkers grew worse and worse. There was even more concern when word got out that PSW president Tony Roque had signed an agreement with Chase Manhattan in August 1980 that allowed the workers to recoup their bounced checks, but that also potentially released International Harvester from most if not all of its pension obligations to Wisconsin’s former workers. Roque had not understood the legal implications of what he had signed. Some families were becoming so desperate that SOJC had initiated free food distribution twice each month and received additional funding support via UNO. For decades, U.S. Steel’s South Works, located well north of 95th Street, had been the unchallenged behemoth of the Calumet region’s steel mills. Its 1973 workforce of ninety-nine hundred had shrunk to seventy-four hundred in 1979, fifty-two hundred in early 1981, and then forty-eight hundred in the spring of 1982, but in September 1982, U.S. Steel chairman David M. Roderick announced that the company would build a new rail mill at South Works thanks to concessions from both USW Local 65 and the state of Illinois. The new facility would add up to one thousand jobs, and completion was targeted for late 1983. “If we were going to be shutting down South Works, we wouldn’t be building the rail mill here,” Roderick assured Chicago journalists and state officials. Six months later the USW accepted an openly concessionary contract, hoping that laid-off workers would be brought back. Then, in May 1983, Roderick reversed himself and told U.S. Steel’s annual meeting that South Works might indeed be closed due to the impact of environmental regulations on such an aged plant. The same week that Roderick spoke, a comprehensive survey of Southeast Side neighborhoods showed “a job loss rate of 56 percent since 1980” and “an unemployment rate of 35 percent.” In late May, more than 150 IACTers and other antidumping protesters descended upon WMI’s annual meeting in tony suburban Oak Brook. The protest drew significant press attention, and next the IACTers—who had revised their name to Irondalers to Abolish the Chemical Threat, rather than just “Against”—blockaded the entrance to WMI’s large Calumet Industrial District (CID) landfill south of 130th Street, creating a backlog of scores of garbage trucks. Chicago police, unsure whether the remote location was in Chicago or instead in Calumet City, made no arrests. In the meantime, Mary Ellen Montes, who was seeking an appointment with the city’s new mayor, met with his sewer commissioner on June 10, and six days later the IACTers again blocked the CID entrance. This time Chicago police had a map, and seventeen of the sixty protesters were arrested, including Lena. Her mother Petra spoke to reporters, and Moriarty and others went door to door in South Deering to raise bail money. Everyone was released in time for a 10:00 A.M. meeting the next day with new mayor Harold Washington. At least one woman showed Washington the visible bruises she had from her arrest, and the mayor agreed to speak at an IACT meeting in South Deering. By midsummer, IACT had access to a crucial meeting place which previously had been denied it: St. Kevin Roman Catholic Church, on the east side of South Torrence, just north of the rusting Wisconsin Steel plant and by far the neighborhood’s largest church. Up until early 1983, St. Kevin’s pastor had been Father Bernard “Benny” Scheid, a notoriously hateful and sometimes drunken political ally of Alderman Vrdolyak. Two years earlier, when the Chicago Sun-Times had publicly exposed the extent of then-Cardinal Cody’s financial misdeeds, Scheid wrote a letter to the paper’s editor warning him to “get your affairs in order. We pray for your sudden and unprovided death every day.” Fortunately for IACT and South Deering, Scheid’s successor was Father George Schopp, who for several years had worked with Greg Galluzzo and UNO as pastor of St. Francis de Sales Parish on the East Side. Schopp was inheriting a parish that included not only Lena and Alma, but, far more menacingly, Scheid’s buddies and Vrdolyak precinct captains like Foster Milhouse (“we used to call him Fester Outhouse,” Schopp recounted) who were “kind of a goon squad.” But Schopp was already familiar with Vrdolyak’s iron grip control of Southeast Side politics, and his arrival at St. Kevin dramatically altered the parish’s political role, as all of Chicago would soon see. In late August, Harold Washington announced that he was blocking WMI’s attempt to open a landfill in Big Marsh as well as a proposed expansion of the nearby existing Paxton Landfill on East 120th Street. Then, on Wednesday evening, August 24, Washington came to South Deering to speak to an IACT-organized crowd of some six hundred people packed into St. Kevin’s large basement hall. As the Tribune’s headline the next morning put it, “Washington Invades Ald. Vrdolyak’s 10th Ward Turf.” Both George Schopp and Dennis Geaney, Leo’s associate pastor from St. Victor, were worried about what Benny Scheid and Vrdolyak’s lackeys might try to do, so Schopp asked a number of supportive priests to stay close to Scheid. As reporters scanned the crowd and a television crew set up their camera, Scheid “assured me that he would work over the crowd by telling them that Washington was an ex-convict and still a big crook,” Geaney recalled a few weeks later. Once Washington arrived and the meeting got under way, Geaney happened to sit beside Petra Rodriguez, “who told me that the chairperson was her daughter, Mary Ellen Montes. This tiny woman steered the tight ship of 600 people like a seasoned sea captain. Benny and the 10th Ward Regulars never got an opening.” Scheid “got up and started blustering, trying to berate Mary Ellen,” Schopp recalled, but Lena was unbowed and the hecklers were silenced. Washington was a powerful and emphatic speaker, and he took control of the crowd. “There is an over-concentration of waste facilities in this community” and the multiple dumps posed a significant danger. “I am appalled things have gone this far.” Washington singled out WMI by name: “I believe this company has a horrible record of violating the public trust and endangering the public health,” he said. “We’ll do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of this. We’re investigating this now. Apparently Waste Management has quite a bit of influence over certain key people,” an obvious allusion to Vrdolyak, who had received at least $18,500 in political contributions from WMI. As Washington concluded, the crowd rose to give him a standing ovation, but Lena, standing beside him, immediately intervened: “The meeting’s not over yet, Mr. Mayor. We’re not finished.” She then sternly insisted that Washington give a yes or no answer to each of five specific IACT demands for city action, and as she recited them, Washington smilingly said “yes” each time. After her fifth one—“Are you committed to stopping Waste Management?” to which Washington responded, “Yes, I am”—Lena reached up, “threw her arms around him and kissed him” on the cheek, as 10:00 P.M. news viewers all across Chicagoland soon witnessed. Washington looked smitten. “Now I know why she is your leader. She’s quite a politician,” he told the crowd. To Lena herself, the mayor was even more complimentary: “Boy, you’re a tough woman. I don’t want to mess with you. I’ll do anything you want me to do,” and Washington gave her his private home phone number. Observers were blown away by Lena’s aplomb. “It was an impressive performance by Mary Ellen,” environmental expert Bob Ginsburg remembered. “She held him there until he agreed” and “it made UNO a citywide player” operating from the veritable backyard of a powerful city council figure who had already become Washington’s greatest political nemesis. “It was a big deal.” Dennis Geaney felt likewise: Lena “was too astute to let him use his charisma as a substitute for hard answers.” Phil Mullins, who had just succeeded Bob Moriarty as UNO’s IACT organizer, was astonished. “It was an awesome meeting…. It was amazing. It just changed everything.” George Schopp felt the backlash, “big time…. It sent Vrdolyak off the wall.” Former alderman and Vrdolyak ally John Buchanan told the priest, “You’re part of a Communist conspiracy.” Different repercussions came from beyond the neighborhood. The CID landfill below 130th Street received almost two-thirds of Chicago’s garbage. It and the older Paxton Landfill at 122nd Street were essential sites; after all, the city’s waste had to go somewhere. The chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals saw the Southeast Side locations as simple common sense: “from a land use point of view, that is an area that has become dedicated to this type of business.” The other most relevant city official viewed WMI in economic development terms: “Their proposal is no different from a steel mill starting to expand. I’m looking at it as an industry expanding, and we need jobs.” The Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry agreed, which led to a Tribune headline saying “Dumping Ban Called Threat to Business.” Unlike with landfills, the city had no regulatory authority over the SCA incinerator at 117th Street, and in early October the Reagan administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave what the Tribune called “the largest commercial toxic waste incinerator in the United States” a permit to burn PCBs inside Chicago’s city limits. The chemical waste company confidently declared: “This is a state-of-the-art incinerator. It will not pose a health threat to residents.” But the most pressing threat to the Southeast Side’s well-being was the ongoing uncertainty of what U.S. Steel would do with South Works, where the active workforce was down to twelve hundred. Although the ongoing shrinkage of South Works’ employee roster was not as sudden or dramatic as the Wisconsin catastrophe, the cumulative job loss over time was almost three times greater, and it was the result of industry-wide trends, not a series of missteps. Between the late 1970s and the mid-1980s, the domestic U.S. steel market shrank dramatically, especially because of greatly reduced demand from the U.S. auto industry and a more than 50 percent growth in the import of steel from abroad. Throughout the fall of 1983 and into early 1984, U.S. Steel’s leadership continued to threaten a possible shutdown of South Works unless environmental protections were seriously loosened and the United Steelworkers union surrendered even more far-reaching contract concessions. Two days after Christmas, U.S. Steel announced that it would shrink the plant to just its beam mill and one electric furnace, reducing the workforce to just eight hundred. Members of Congess were joined by Archbishop—and now Cardinal—Joseph Bernardin in denouncing U.S. Steel’s behavior, and Tribune business editor Richard Longworth wrote an angry column, declaring that U.S. Steel’s behavior “violated every standard of decency and broke every obligation to the workers and the community that made it rich.” The company had betrayed “every principle of economic fair play established over the last fifty years” and new federal legislation might be necessary “to protect the country from companies like U.S. Steel.” Indeed, “U.S. Steel is operating so far outside the rules of normal free enterprise that it is challenging the entire American industrial system.” Among those responding to the essay was St. Victor’s Father Dennis Geaney, who commended Longworth and rued the damage done to “people who are being treated like obsolete machinery.” While IACT and the Southeast Side steel crisis were making news throughout the summer and fall of 1983, Jerry Kellman reactivated CCRC in tandem with the Catholic parishes that stretched across Cook County’s suburban townships, the area that comprised the archdiocese’s Vicariate XII. Mary Gonzales and Greg Galluzzo also were expanding UNO’s organizational reach into three more predominantly Hispanic Chicago neighborhoods: Back of the Yards, Little Village, and Pilsen, where Danny Solis was transforming the Pilsen Neighbors Community Council into a UNO affiliate. Before the end of the year Mary and Greg also added to UNO’s staff Peter Martinez, a veteran IAF organizer. Martinez had known and clashed with Kellman a decade earlier, and his arrival not only increased tensions between Jerry and Greg, but it spurred Kellman’s gradual shift from UNO to Leo Mahon’s CCRC. Jerry sought support for CCRC from the archdiocese’s CHD, the Woods Fund, and Tom Joyce’s Claretian Social Development Fund, emphasizing that his congregational organizing would lead parishioners toward “understanding social action as part of a faith commitment.” By midsummer, Kellman had visited pastors across the vicariate and had won the support of urban vicar Father Ray Nugent. Combining the vicariate’s numerical designation with the Book of Ecclesiastes’ (3:1–2) well-known invocation of “time,” Kellman and the pastors came up with “Time for XII” as the name for a program which would work hand in glove with CCRC to train lay leaders in each parish to listen to fellow parishioners’ thoughts about the region’s economic crisis. Cardinal Bernardin gave Time for XII his enthusiastic support, and on August 29 he endorsed it at a meeting of three hundred parish leaders from across the vicariate. Kellman and Leo Mahon believed it would take until October 1984 to raise the necessary funds—in part through contributions from each church—to hire staff and begin work at the more than twenty parishes that said they would sign on. In the interim Kellman would kick off “pilot projects” at St. Victor and at Father Paul Burke’s Holy Ghost Parish in neighboring South Holland. At St. Victor Parish, Leo’s—and soon Jerry’s—right-hand layman was the energetic Fred Simari. Under the tutelage of Leo’s first young associate pastor at St. Victor, Bill Stenzel, Fred had proceeded through the archdiocese’s three-year deaconate school. At almost forty years old, Fred was six years older than Kellman, who quickly impressed him as an “incredibly hard worker” who “was great at what he did.” Also involved at St. Victor were two other key parishioners, Gloria Boyda and Jan Poledziewski. Within St. Victor, “lots of laypeople got involved,” Jan recalled, another of whom was Christine Gervais. “We just went into different homes and spoke to the people and then kind of brought back all of our information,” Gervais remembered. We “just sat and talked,” especially about what families needed. People just “refused to believe that the steel industry was going down,” because for many families, the plants were the only jobs that three successive generations of breadwinners had known. By the beginning of 1984, Kellman was expanding beyond St. Victor and Holy Ghost, and at Annunciata Parish on the East Side Kellman used a small retreat as an opportunity to explain Time for XII. Soon thereafter Jerry spoke with one young man from the parish, Ken Jania, about joining him to do further outreach. Jania, newly married and running a small, failing East Side restaurant, jumped at the chance, and by May 1984, Ken was CCRC’s second paid staff member. “My job was to connect with the parishioners,” Jania recalled, “to make a presentation in front of church” and “organize and start the interview process with parishioners.” On the East Side, in predominantly Polish Hegewisch, Chicago’s southeasternmost neighborhood, in Calumet City and other southern suburbs, there were “hundreds of interviews that we documented.” The job was harder than it sounded, for “it was very difficult for me to come from that neighborhood and to go and do those interviews, because in many cases I knew the people” going back to high school. “It was very difficult with these families” since “they’d lost everything” when a father’s steel plant job disappeared. “He’s got nothing,” since “their skills didn’t translate to anything,” and that meant “absolute desperation,” with prolonged unemployment signaling how “the traditional blue collar nuclear family’s exploded.” As IACT’s Alma Avalos explained, “I don’t think the reality really sunk in until after a couple of years passed.” As Christine Walley, the most poignant chronicler of the Southeast Side’s disintegration, later wrote, “it sometimes felt as if our entire world was collapsing.” Permanent closure of the mills, whether Wisconsin or especially South Works, “was simply unfathomable,” and for many men “the stigma of being out of work was deeply traumatic.” In her household, following the Wisconsin shutdown, “my dad became increasingly depressed, eventually refusing to leave the house…. He would never hold a permanent job again.” The Southeast Side’s economic demise also “caused untold social devastation” among neighbors as another former Wisconsin worker attempted suicide and a third drank himself to death. Her father lived on, wallowing in “the deep-seated bitterness of a man who felt that life had passed him by.” All across the Calumet region, it slowly dawned on people that a “world we thought would never change” had suddenly proven “far more ephemeral” than anyone had imagined possible. Jerry Kellman’s reenlivened CCRC had an expanded geographic reach thanks to Vicariate XII’s archdiocesan links with neighboring Vicariate X, which encompassed all of the Chicago neighborhoods that comprised Greater Roseland. Far more crucial, however, in early 1983 Leo Mahon’s protégé and former associate pastor, Bill Stenzel, was assigned to the small, struggling Holy Rosary Church at the southwest corner of 113th Street and King Drive. Stenzel had spent some previous months with Father Tom “Rock” Kaminski at neighboring St. Helena of the Cross Parish on S. Parnell Avenue at 101st Street. One of Stenzel’s tasks was to merge an even weaker nearby parish, St. Salomea, a historically Polish church, into Holy Rosary, which had been traditionally Irish. Holy Rosary had some deeply committed parishioners, like Ralph Viall, a white man in his fifties, and Betty Garrett, an African American woman who had moved to Roseland in 1971, but the merger faced no opposition because there was hardly anyone either Irish or Polish or—excepting Ralph Viall and his friend Ken—indeed white left in Roseland. If any one neighborhood in America epitomized the experience of “white flight” in its most traumatic form, Roseland was it. The name went back to the earliest white settlers, Dutch immigrants who first arrived in 1849 to build homes and farms in the area around what would become 103rd to 111th Streets at South Michigan Avenue—the same street that fifteen miles northward becomes Chicago’s “Magnificent Mile” shopping district. In 1852 the Illinois Central and Michigan Central Railroads interconnected just a little to the southeast, and the settlement that grew up there would be called Kensington. Over the next quarter century Chicago’s role as major rail hub grew dramatically, and in 1880 the already-famous sleeping car magnate George Pullman chose an area just to the northeast—between what later would be 103rd and 115th Streets—to build a new manufacturing plant as well as a company town he would name after himself. By the turn of the century, Pullman’s burgeoning plant employed many workers who lived in Roseland and Kensington, and in the coming decades and the World War II era, thousands of men—white men—who found well-paying jobs in the steel plants east of there, across the large geographic divide of Lake Calumet and its attendant marshes, made their homes in Roseland or the adjoining neighborhoods of West Pullman and Washington Heights, both of which, like Kensington, were often lumped into Greater Roseland. Black people were almost nonexistent in those neighborhoods. To the north, between 91st and 97th Streets astride State Street, a small black community called Lilydale grew up in the years after 1912, and by 1937, its residents successfully protested for the construction of a neighborhood public school. At the time of the 1930 census, Kensington had 170 black residents. In 1933, when an African American woman purchased a duplex some fifteen blocks southwestward, near 120th Street and Stewart Avenue, white neighbors bombed the property. A decade later, when white real estate developer Donald O’Toole announced the construction of Princeton Park, a new neighborhood of primarily single-family homes for African Americans just west of Lilydale, eleven thousand whites petitioned unsuccessfully to block the development. The end of World War II created a serious housing shortage, and when the CHA moved the families of several black war veterans into a reconstructed barracks project on the east side of Halsted Street at 105th Street, it took more than a thousand law enforcement officers to finally end three nights of violent white protest riots. Following World War II, Greater Roseland’s racial composition changed gradually, and then incredibly abruptly. Blacks were 18 percent of the population in 1950, but the proportion increased to 23 percent in 1960, to 55 percent in 1970, and then to 97 percent by 1980. But those statistics, while dramatic, nonetheless fail to convey how stark the transformation was. In 1960, West Pullman was 100 percent white; by 1980, it was 90 percent black. Washington Heights, 12 percent black in 1960, was 75 percent so by 1970, and 98 percent by 1980. In central Roseland, the dominant church presence, reaching all the way back to the original settlers, was the four congregations of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) and four more of the Reformed Church of America (RCA). One of the CRC churches considered reaching out to new African American residents in early 1964, but then dropped the idea in July 1968, concluding that the neighborhood was in “rapid decline” by the spring of 1969. As in other neighborhoods all across Chicago’s vast South Side, the onset of the real cataclysm could be dated quite precisely: April 4, 1968, when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. “From that day on, everything changed,” one resident told Louis Rosen, who wrote a powerful memoir of the transformation before becoming a successful musician. “It was rapid. It was awful,” one white person recalled. “It was an exodus.” That is what happened in Roseland. In hardly twelve months in 1971–72, all four self-governing CRC churches abandoned the neighborhood and moved to the white suburbs. Of the RCA churches, one decamped in 1971, a second in 1974, and a third in 1977; the last survivor held out well into the 1980s. Of all the statistics measuring white flight, one may capture the price that the neighborhoods—and the new residents—paid more powerfully than any other: in 1960, fifty-eight M.D.s practiced in Roseland. Twenty years later, in 1980, after a population increase of five thousand residents, there were only eleven. While virtually all whites fled, one Christian Reformed couple in their late thirties walked against the tide. Rev. Tony Van Zanten had finished seminary in the early 1960s, spent some time in Harlem and then over a decade in Paterson, New Jersey, another city experiencing serious decline. In August 1976 Tony and his wife Donna relocated to Chicago and opened Roseland Christian Ministries Center in the heart of South Michigan Avenue’s once-vibrant business district. They fully realized how “the racial change in Roseland was a very radical and very swift one,” maybe more stark than in any other place. “There were no social services at all,” Donna remembered. “There was nothing there for the new people.” Standing against the tide were the Roman Catholic parishes that for decades had stood within fifteen blocks or so of each other all across Greater Roseland. Several closings and mergers had taken place in the previous decade as the area’s Catholic population shrank due to the racial turnover, but new African American members energized some parishes. Father Paul Burak was newly ordained when he arrived at St. Catherine of Genoa in West Pullman in 1972, when white flight was near its peak and the population, for the moment, was roughly 50 percent black and 50 percent white. St. Catherine’s retired pastor, Father Frank Murphy, had been a forceful proponent of racial equality, but that hadn’t stemmed the flight. “I experienced a lot of struggle and confusion about the parish” through the early and mid-1970s, Burak recounted. “Every weekend I would meet someone saying ‘Father, this is our last weekend here.’ ” Burak left St. Catherine in 1978, only to return in 1981, and by then few white parishioners remained. Tom Kaminski arrived at St. Helena in 1977, and only a few elderly white people were still in the congregation. At first glance, the massive white depopulation of these neighborhoods promised a wonderful opportunity—thousands of newly available, often well-constructed brick bungalow-style homes—for African American Chicagoans whose families had for decades been trapped within the clear racial boundaries of Chicago’s South and West Side neighborhoods. But the reality of Roseland’s racial transformation again made black families highly vulnerable to exploitative white real estate “professionals,” this time due almost entirely to federal government policy choices. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), by 1968 part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), was indisputably the villain, but until the mid-1970s, almost no one fully fathomed—or sought to expose—the consequences of government policy-making gone awry. At first only one little-known housing policy expert, Calvin Bradford, was determined to unmask a widely ignored evil. The term “redlining” was well known, if not well understood, but in newly African American neighborhoods like Roseland, it was not lenders’ refusal to make conventional home mortgage loans available to black home buyers that wreaked widespread damage, but how the FHA, starting in August 1968, made government-insured loans available to such purchasers—often through exploitative mortgage bankers, and even for properties of dubious quality—that ended up decimating newly black neighborhoods in which such insured loans were concentrated. Bradford and a coauthor figured out that while seeking to “encourage inner-city lending,” the FHA caused local mortgage bankers to simply maximize the number of black purchasers they could entice to buy homes. As a result, thousands of black families were issued mortgages that they were not qualified to successfully carry—especially in an urban economy where blue-collar jobs like those at the Southeast Side’s steel mills were vanishing by the thousands year after year. The result was “massive numbers of foreclosed and abandoned properties,” with the FHA insurance actively encouraging fast-buck lenders to foreclose as quickly as possible on as many properties as they could. As Bradford explained in a subsequent essay, the federally insured loans provided “the certainty that FHA will take the property from the lender after foreclosure and pay the claim,” and that led to lax underwriting and the profligate issuance of loans because “neither the mortgage companies that originated them nor the investor that purchased them—basically FNMA [popularly known as Fannie Mae, the Federal National Mortgage Association] cared about the soundness of the loans.” Indeed, as Bradford later observed, “the financial incentives were so great that scores of real estate agents, lenders, and even FHA officials engaged in fraud in order to make sales to unqualified and unsuspecting minority homebuyers.” The end result, as dramatically witnessed in Roseland, was “the government taking all of the losses and the communities suffering all the devastation” of foreclosed and abandoned homes. The impact of such policies and such behavior could be seen all across Roseland, both in “board-ups”—homes with plywood covering their windows—and in the rapid decline of the South Michigan Avenue shopping district. One group, the Greater Roseland Organization (GRO), founded in 1969, tried to ease the racial transition. The GRO was comprised of smaller, neighborhood-specific groups such as the Pullman Civic Organization and the Roseland Heights Community Association, and it included both older white residents, like Holy Rosary’s Ralph Viall, and newly arrived African Americans, like Mary Bates and Lenora Rodgers. With funding support from both CHD and the Chicago Community Trust, GRO emerged in the early 1980s as the only audible voice speaking for the neighborhood. The summer of 1980 saw the first stirrings of gang influence in Roseland, and in September the long-famous Gatelys Peoples Store, the largest business on South Michigan Avenue, closed. A citywide study of different neighborhoods’ needs described Gatelys’ closure as “psychologically … probably the most serious blow imaginable” to Roseland’s economic well-being. Then early in 1981, in three separate incidents, three teenage students at Fenger High School were shot and killed. By this time, close to five hundred properties in Roseland and West Pullman were in foreclosure, and more than sixteen thousand people, one-quarter of Roseland’s population, were receiving public aid. A study of recent job losses in the area highlighted Wisconsin’s closing and stated, “Many of these workers were Roseland residents.” Their prospects for new steel plant jobs were nonexistent, the report underscored: “People in these types of jobs are not merely out of work, they are out of careers.” A parallel study, focusing on men who had lost their jobs at U.S. Steel’s South Works, found that 47 percent had not found new employment, but that summary statistic concealed a significant racial disparity: 67 percent of black workers were still unemployed, as compared to only 32 percent of whites. “Once laid off from their mill jobs,” the study noted, “blacks in particular remain the least likely to find new jobs.” In early 1983, Lenora Rodgers mounted a renewed push to win foundation funding for GRO. She told one foundation that “community organizing and an issue-based community organization is the key to neighborhood preservation.” She said GRO’s greatest need was to hire organizers, since “organizers help to identify new and potential leaders” who could mobilize Roseland against the dangers engulfing it. But Rodgers’s efforts were unsuccessful, and by April 1984 GRO was no longer responding to letters from potential funders. As Jerry Kellman extended CCRC’s presence into Roseland early in 1984, he accepted office space at Bill Stenzel’s Holy Rosary Parish in lieu of dues. IACT and UNO continued their antidumping protests, with Lena’s name appearing in Chicago newspapers almost weekly. On January 30, 1984, a city council committee, spurred by Alderman Vrdolyak’s desire to at least appear to be against dumping, approved a one-year moratorium on new landfills within the city. In mid-February Lena joined U.S. Representative Paul Simon, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Chuck Percy, as he toured South Deering and its neighboring waste sites. Two days later, when the full city council approved the one-year moratorium, Vrdolyak amended the measure to exempt liquid waste handlers and transfer stations, leading Mayor Washington’s backers to oppose the diluted ban. March 1984 was the fourth anniversary of Wisconsin Steel’s shutdown. Mayor Washington spoke at an SOJC anniversary rally, and on March 28, Frank Lumpkin and others picketed International Harvester’s downtown headquarters. Frank told one reporter he believed four hundred of the three thousand ex-Wisconsin steelworkers had died in the last four years. Later he told a U.S. congressional subcommittee that nowadays in South Chicago “the only ambition a kid can have is to steal hubcaps. There is nothing else there. There’s no jobs.” The Daily Calumet reported on the closings of more and more retail businesses; a UNO meeting on jobs drew more than five hundred neighborhood residents plus Mayor Washington’s top three development and employment aides. By August 1984, Jerry Kellman was ready to publicly launch the reborn CCRC. Thanks to Leo Mahon’s core parishioners from St. Victor—Fred Simari, Jan Poledziewski, Gloria Boyda, and Christine Gervais—CCRC was ready to play an active role in a retraining program for one thousand former heavy industry workers in several south suburban Cook County townships, funded with $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor under the 1982 Job Training Partnership Act. And thanks to Bill Stenzel’s hosting of Kellman at Holy Rosary church in Roseland, Kellman was beginning to pull together a new network of virtually all-black Catholic parishes across Roseland under the distinct rubric of the Developing Communities Project (DCP), with DCP for the moment a “project” or “subgroup” of CCRC. Kellman asked each parish for two lead representatives. From Holy Rosary came Stenzel’s two most active parishioners, Ralph Viall and Betty Garrett. At St. Catherine of Genoa, Father Paul Burak suggested two people he felt had “a passion I think for social justice”: Dan Lee, who had attended deaconate school, and Cathy Askew, a young white single parent with two mixed-race daughters who was teaching at St. Catherine’s School. St. Catherine’s senior deacon, Tommy West, was interested too, but he channeled much of his community work through another parish well north of 95th Street, St. Sabina. At St. Helena, Father Tom Kaminski volunteered himself and Eva Sturgies, an active parishioner who lived on 99th Street. From St. John de la Salle at 102nd and South Vernon Avenue, eleven blocks north of Holy Rosary, Father Joe Bennett asked Adrienne Bitoy Jackson, a young woman with an office job at Inland Steel, and Marlene Dillard, who lived in the London Towne Homes cooperative development east of Cottage Grove Avenue. Not every Roseland pastor responded with enthusiasm. At Holy Name of Mary Parish, Father Tony Vader brushed off Kellman but told his associate pastor, Father John Calicott, the only African American priest on the Far South Side, to do what he could. The most unusual Catholic parish Kellman contacted was Our Lady of the Gardens, a church that traced its beginnings only to 1947 and which was staffed by fathers from the Society of the Divine Word. When Kellman visited Father Stanley Farier, the priest recommended two women of different circumstances: Loretta Augustine, in her early forties, who lived in a single-family home in the Golden Gate neighborhood west of the church, and Yvonne Lloyd, a fifty-five-year-old mother of eleven who lived in the Eden Green town house and apartment development just west of both Golden Gate and the sprawling public housing project from which the parish drew its name: Altgeld Gardens. Altgeld Gardens was a by-product of World War II. When Chicago faced a dire housing shortage during the war years, officials looked to the land south of 130th Street, west of the CID landfill and Beaubien Woods Forest Preserve, north of the Cal-Sag Channel (a man-made tributary dug during the 1910s) and east of St. Lawrence Avenue. This area had in earlier decades served as the sewage farm for George Pullman’s eponymous town a mile northward. The Metropolitan Sanitary District’s massive sewage treatment plant, opened in 1922, was located just north of 130th Street. Construction began in 1943 on a 1,463-unit “war housing development” on the 157-acre site. The first families moved in come fall 1944, and a year later, in August 1945, a formal dedication ceremony featuring local congressman William A. Rowan plus Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) chairman Robert R. Taylor, an African American, took place before a crowd of five thousand. More than seven thousand residents were already living there, the Tribune reported, “nearly all Negroes.” An elementary school and then a high school, both named for the black scientist George Washington Carver, who had died in 1943, were soon part of the new development, but by 1951 school parents were protesting the presence of an open ditch carrying raw sewage that abutted the school grounds. In 1954 another five hundred apartments, officially called the Philip Murray Homes, were added to the Altgeld development. For its first fifteen to twenty years, residents described Altgeld—or, more colloquially, just “the Gardens”—as “this heavenly place,” “just paradise,” as two different residents recalled. “It was just really a wholesome place to live,” a third remembered. “There was a feeling of family throughout the entire development,” said a fourth. The Gardens was its own world: almost anyone who worked had to own an automobile because public bus service to and from Altgeld was poor at best. “We felt so isolated and away from the mainstream of what was occurring in Chicago…. We were cut off from a lot of opportunities,” one resident explained. Loretta Freeman Augustine grew up in Lilydale, married a man from Altgeld at age nineteen, and lived in an apartment there from 1961 to 1966, when the couple moved to a single-family home in Golden Gate, just to the west. “The community had a stability” during those years. “People had nice lawns with beautiful flowers,” and it was “very much a family-oriented community.” The Carver High School basketball team, under Coach Larry Hawkins, won the Illinois state championship in 1963. By the late 1960s, things had changed for the worse. Many blamed the CHA, which had evicted residents when their incomes rose above the ceiling allowable in public housing. “People were being forced out because they were over the income,” one woman recalled. Dr. Alma Jones, hired as Carver Elementary School’s principal in 1975, had had a similar experience some years earlier at the CHA’s LeClaire Courts. “It was absolutely beautiful,” but “my husband got a raise, and they put us out: excess income,” she recalled. “I was devastated because I had just had twins … it was heartbreaking.” It was also destructive. “That eliminated everybody who was upwardly mobile, because if you … started to progress, then they put you out, which was the worst thing that could possibly happen” because “you take out the element of folk who know how to live in a community.” One young man who grew up in Altgeld in the 1950s returned to the Far South Side twenty-five years later as a police officer. Initially “there were very few troubled families. I would say less than 5 percent. When I returned, I saw that the 5 percent was still residing in that development, but so were their children, and grandchildren, it was just a procession. The 5 percent had expanded to 85 percent.” Another resident said, “It began to change in the 1970s. I don’t think it really started to decline until the drugs became prevalent.” A 1972 Tribune article marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of Our Lady of the Gardens parish described Altgeld as a place “from which long-time residents are striving to get out” and stated that drugs and crime were the Gardens’ top problems. As Father Al Zimmerman commented, “With no job prospects, the temptation to turn to drugs is powerful.” In April 1974 Altgeld made news in a different fashion when the entire facility was evacuated after a tank containing 500,000 gallons of silicon tetrachloride ruptured at a tank farm just ten blocks to the north. “A dense cloud of fumes half a mile wide” drifted toward the project, and almost twelve hours passed before residents were allowed to return home. More than two hundred people were hospitalized from exposure to “a heavy cloud of hydrochloric acid” that was generated when clueless workers turned firehoses on the tank, making the emissions far worse, rather than notify public officials. Chicago soon filed suit against Bulk Terminals, the tank’s owner, and the Tribune quoted a state official as saying, “It should be a criminal offense to know of a leakage of toxic materials without reporting it immediately.” A 1982 citywide neighborhoods study found that Altgeld’s needs were especially dire. “The physical isolation of this community from the rest of the city” was so great that “residents of this area are rural rather than urban poor,” it noted. Tenants believe “that job training is one of their community’s most important needs,” but people who had never held a job needed to be taught “how to look for work.” Yet “many do not own cars,” and public transport was still “frightfully poor.” The Gardens’ one small food store shocked the outsiders. Not only did it smell “particularly bad,” but rats were now regularly “visible in the food store during daylight hours.” That study pointedly advised that “Altgeld Gardens needs an advocate and/or organizer to improve the coordination of the many municipal services provided to the development, and to work with the private sector to help create employment opportunities for local residents.” Altgeld residents were theoretically represented by a local advisory council, but by the early 1980s, the council had for years been dominated with an iron fist by its president, Esther Wheeler, or “Queen Esther” to many dismayed residents. “Her whole concern was nobody would take her place, or usurp her authority,” Carver principal Alma Jones later explained. “She was extremely authoritarian and she owned Altgeld.” But come September 1982, residents had a new opportunity to organize against the toxic waste, garbage, and sewage that surrounded them, when Hazel Johnson, a forty-seven-year-old widow and mother of seven who had first moved to the Gardens in March 1962, founded People for Community Recovery (PCR) and attracted a small band of active members. Hazel’s husband John had died of lung cancer in 1969, at age forty-one, and by the early 1980s, questions arose about the long-term health of those living at Altgeld. In late April 1984, Hazel saw a television news story about a study of cancer rates in the Far South Side. Its statistics were alarming, yet Illinois EPA director Richard Carlson brushed aside the findings. In response, Hazel contacted the IEPA, which tried to placate her with some pollution complaint forms. She responded by distributing several hundred of them throughout the Gardens over the ensuing six months. In late 1983, a new organizing effort began in the Eden Green community. Madeline Talbott and Keith Kelleher, two Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) organizers, had met Tom Joyce while working in Detroit, and Tom’s Claretian Social Development Fund provided the initial seed money to launch ACORN in Chicago. ACORN’s Eden Green organizer was Grant Williams, who had worked for ACORN in Philadelphia and St. Louis. Williams viewed Eden Green as more promising turf than Altgeld, but after a founding meeting of South Side United Neighbors, Williams expanded his work into the Gardens. He contacted Lena and her IACT colleagues about the new-dumps moratorium, but in Altgeld, the residents’ biggest concern was the poor public bus service to the outside world. By March 1984 Williams had interested a reporter from Chicago’s premier African American newspaper, the Defender, in Altgeld’s transit plight, and a community meeting to oppose possible service cuts by the Chicago Transit Authority drew a good crowd. By summer, Williams had signed up some eighty-three dues-paying members for ACORN—$16 a year—but by late August, he was moving to Detroit, and a brand-new University of Chicago graduate, Steuart Pittman, would take over in September. Before the end of summer 1984, Jerry Kellman also made his first successful forays toward enlisting some Protestant pastors to join his previously all-Catholic CCRC. His first two recruits were Rev. Bob Klonowski of Hegewisch’s Lebanon Lutheran Church and Rev. Tom Knutson of First Lutheran Church in Harvey, a far-from-prosperous suburban town two miles southwest of Altgeld Gardens. Also joining CCRC was St. Anne Parish in suburban Hazel Crest, whose new pastor, Father Len Dubi, had known Kellman for more than a decade. The city parishes’ DCP designees first met Kellman and their CCRC colleagues from St. Victor and the other predominantly white congregations at Tom Knutson’s church in Harvey. An early August issue of the Daily Calumet ran a prominent story heralding CCRC’s “phoenix-like return.” It quoted Kellman as saying he hoped sixty churches would join by October, and that by year’s end he wanted to have “a full range of support programs for laid off workers.” His top goal was to devise “a long-range plan for economic development,” and within a year he hoped to have “three or four full time employees.” Fred Simari and Gloria Boyda from St. Victor were appointed to a task force overseeing the new federally funded suburban job retraining program, but the program would not be able to accept applications until December or January. Throughout the fall of 1984 and early 1985, IACT, Hazel Johnson’s PCR, and even ACORN appeared more visibly active than CCRC and DCP. A mid-September appearance by IEPA director Richard Carlson at St. Kevin drew an angry crowd that erupted in shouting when he insisted that the Southeast Side’s bevy of waste facilities posed no threat to anyone’s health. Marian Byrnes from Jeffery Manor, a widowed, recently retired schoolteacher who had founded the Committee to Protect the Prairie to avert construction on the undisturbed, 117-acre Van Vlissingen Prairie north of 103rd Street, forcefully told Carlson, “We will never believe you! You might as well go home!” That tussle was quickly overshadowed when the Chicago Sun-Times reported that water from at least three residential wells just south of Altgeld Gardens contained cyanide, benzene, and toluene. Most Chicago residents were no doubt surprised that anyone within the city limits had to rely upon wells for water service, but city officials had been aware of the issue for three months. Homeowners in the tiny, seven-home enclave called Maryland Manor paid city taxes but had neither paved streets nor water and sewer service. The residents were wary enough of their cloudy well water that they used it only for toilets and the like, as opposed to drinking, but the extensive press coverage was a huge embarrassment for Mayor Washington, one that would have been worse had the press known that the issue had been handed off to an intern over the summer. In late October, just two weeks before the November general election, Lena and her colleagues successfully targeted incumbent U.S. senator Chuck Percy after he skipped a UNO candidates’ forum with Democratic challenger Paul Simon. UNO followed Percy to a black radio station, WVON, and stormed the building, causing the beleaguered senator to take refuge in a women’s restroom. Percy remained locked inside there for some hours, and the standoff made for memorable local television news footage. On November 6, Simon defeated Percy by fewer than ninety thousand votes out of more than 4.6 million that were cast. When the U.S. EPA denied an IACT request to review the state’s finding of no health threat, Lena told the media the refusal was “quite ironic” in light of the Maryland Manor contamination. In mid-November, when state officials authorized the cleanup of an abandoned dump at 119th Street that contained 1,750 barrels of unknown chemical waste, Governor Thompson showed up wearing a protective suit, boots, and a mask to tell journalists that the site was “a monument to man’s greed and disregard for the health and safety of fellow citizens.” Along with Frank Lumpkin’s SOJC, UNO also continued to push city officials to open a job retraining center on the Southeast Side, but environmental issues had now replaced economic ones at the top of the local agenda. ACORN’s fall 1984 efforts in Altgeld Gardens underscored that shift. Once Steuart Pittman took over from Grant Williams, the small group changed its name to Altgeld Tenants United (ATU). Williams had warned Pittman that local advisory council (LAC) president Esther Wheeler was “kind of nuts,” but when ATU sought to use the project’s community building for a neighborhood-wide meeting, Wheeler summoned “your Leader” to meet with her executive board. ATU still drew more than one hundred residents to an October 30 meeting, but Wheeler showed up to accuse Pittman of having an intimate relationship with an elderly and devout ATU leader: “That white boy is shacking up with Maggie Davis.” It was a ludicrous allegation, but Wheeler’s role in Altgeld caused untold harm to the Garden’s residents. As Pittman reported to ACORN’s Madeline Talbott, “the grocery store”—the one whose visible population of daytime rats had astonished outsiders several years earlier—“has a plaque award for community service in it from Esther Wheeler and the LAC.” ATU reached out to both the city’s sewer department and to CHA’s Altgeld head manager, Walter Williams, who told the organization, “I’ll resign my job before giving in to tenants’ demands.” The sewer department deployed workers, who told residents Altgeld’s sewers were the worst they had ever seen and would take months to clean, but work was halted after one week by the CHA, which would have to foot the bill. In response, over a dozen ATU members picketed CHA headquarters in the downtown Loop on November 14 and then held a press conference. The African American Defender gave them front-page coverage, and the local 9th Ward alderman, Perry Hutchinson, took an interest, telling the Defender that “Chicago has forgotten about south of 130th Street” and the people marooned there. But Pittman was disappointed that turnout at ATU meetings was declining. When he arranged a January 23 tour of WMI’s huge CID landfill east of Altgeld, only ten people showed up. Hoping to spur greater interest, he adopted Lena and IACT’s tactic from almost two years earlier, and on February 19 sixteen ATU protesters blocked garbage trucks’ entry into the landfill. Pittman, the elderly Ms. Davis, and one young man were arrested. For a second blockade on March 7, only eight people participated, and the protest resulted in three more arrests. Pittman had privately given ACORN notice four months earlier that he would be leaving as of March 15, 1985, and when he departed no one immediately replaced him. At their final meeting, ATU members wondered whether they should join Hazel Johnson’s PCR. In mid-January 1985, PCR received attention citywide for the first time when Hazel held a press conference to publicize the IEPA complaint forms she had circulated within Altgeld over the previous six months and to highlight that the city’s one-year moratorium on new landfills would expire on February 1. One week later, Mayor Washington called a City Hall press conference, and with both Lena and Hazel standing behind him, recommended a six-month extension of the ban, which was unanimously approved by the city council. Washington also appointed a Solid Waste Management Task Force to study the city’s landfill options. Lena, Hazel, and Bob Ginsburg from Citizens for a Better Environment were all named to the panel, as were 9th and 10th Ward aldermen Hutchinson and Vrdolyak and South Chicago Savings Bank president James A. Fitch; Washington administration insiders like Jacky Grimshaw and Marilyn Katz were also included to assure that the task force would not go astray. By early spring 1985, however, rumors had gradually spread that the city administration was quietly considering an entirely different new landfill possibility, centered on 140 acres of Metropolitan Sanitary District property south of 130th Street on the east bank of the Calumet River, a location generally spoken of as the O’Brien Locks site after a nearby dam. A city Planning Department draft report had discussed the idea a year earlier, and while Mayor Washington reiterated his opposition to any dump at the 116th Street Big Marsh location when he spoke at UNO’s annual convention at St. Kevin in late April, concerned residents of Hegewisch and its northern Avalon Trails neighborhood—both just east of the O’Brien property—publicly criticized Lena and UNO for not pressing Washington for a similar commitment concerning the O’Brien site. The weekly Hegewisch News began to sound the alarm, with editor Violet Czachorski proclaiming that while Hegewisch residents had supported people in South Deering in opposing any Big Marsh landfill, now UNO and IACT were failing to take a similarly principled stance when a landfill was proposed for Hegewisch’s backyard rather than theirs. Writing in the News, University of Illinois at Chicago geographer James Landing, who in 1980 had created the Lake Calumet Study Committee to help protect that body, warned that a “lack of unity among neighborhood groups … serves the interests of the dump companies.” Harold Washington and his top aides were devoting attention to Roseland as his four-year term approached its halfway mark. In part their concern was stimulated by the Borg-Warner Foundation, whose executive director, Ellen Benjamin, had taken an interest in the neighborhood and had commissioned a “needs assessment” from a team at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Roseland had lost more than sixty-eight hundred jobs between 1977 and 1983, and loss of employment meant “many people are having trouble maintaining their houses, keeping food on the table” and avoiding foreclosure. The researchers conducted 115 interviews in Roseland, and while 33 respondents named jobs as the top problem, almost twice as many—64—described how “crime and gangs have proliferated and the feeling of insecurity has increased.” Before the report was issued, Washington’s top staffers were briefed on the findings. “Highest infant mortality rate in city,” “highest number of foreclosed homes in the nation,” South “Michigan [Ave.] business district gone,” their notes recorded. With just one exception, community groups were disappointing: “Good Roseland Christian Ministries,” the staff notes emphasized. At 1:30 P.M. on Sunday, March 17, a man wearing a long dark coat and a baseball cap with the Playboy logo drew a gun on cashier Lavergne McDonald inside Fortenberry Liquors at 36 East 111th Street in central Roseland. She screamed, and the gunman fled. Fifteen minutes later, Roger Nelson, a seminary student who had interned at Roseland Christian Ministries, his fiancée, and his parents finished chatting with Tony and Donna Van Zanten after church services and crossed South Michigan Avenue just north of 109th Street to the lot where their car was parked. The same gunman came up to them, ordered them into the car, and instructed them to hand over their valuables. Roger’s father, fifty-year-old Northwestern College of Iowa professor Ronald Nelson, was in the driver’s seat, with the gunman crouched by the open driver’s door. As the quartet fumbled through their belongings, Donna Van Zanten and her son Kent approached and were also ordered into the back seat. Ronald Nelson handed the man his car keys and checkbook, but the gunman angrily said, “I don’t think you gave me all you have.” Nelson protested, but the gunman handed back the checkbook, called Nelson a “Goddamned lying bastard,” and fired one shot into the left side of Nelson’s abdomen. As Ronald Nelson lay dying at the scene, the gunman fled past two men working on a car nearby. “Brothers, you all be cool,” the gunman called out. “You know them was honkies over there.” One of the men was on work release for possession of a stolen car, but the gunman’s appeal to race fell flat: they not only knew Roseland Christian Ministries, one of them knew Roger Nelson from his work there. After police arrived, a shaken Donna and Kent Van Zanten accompanied officers on a ninety-minute drive throughout the neighborhood while Roger and his fiancée went to a station house with detectives to look at photos of possible suspects. Twelve days later, one of the car repairers identified a photo he believed matched the gunman; police also received an anonymous telephone tip that the man they wanted went by the nickname “Squeaky.” Detectives went to 10727 South Indiana Avenue, less than four blocks from the scene of Nelson’s murder, and told the older man who answered the door that they wanted to speak with Clarence Hayes. “Hey, Squeaky,” he called upstairs. Hayes wasn’t home, nor was he on five subsequent occasions when police stopped by, but on Sunday morning, April 14, the thirty-four-year-old three-time ex-convict and drug addict was arrested at a nearby currency exchange. That afternoon, Lavergne McDonald, Donna and Kent Van Zanten, and both of the car repairers picked Hayes out of a police lineup, as did Roger Nelson and his fiancée when they arrived in Chicago that evening. Ronald Nelson’s murder—a white victim, a black gunman, a Sunday church parking lot—drew more news coverage than anything else that had happened in Roseland in years. Eighteen months later Clarence Hayes was convicted of murder and multiple counts of armed robbery and sentenced to death; after appellate review he was sentenced to life in prison. Over a quarter century later, he was still challenging his conviction in the courts, but on the thirtieth anniversary of Nelson’s murder Clarence Hayes remained safely ensconced in the maximum-security Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Illinois. March 28, 1985, was the fifth anniversary of Wisconsin Steel’s sudden shutdown. Frank Lumpkin, now sixty-seven, was one of the few ex-workers whose more than thirty years at the plant meant he was collecting his full pension. Those not so fortunate received little if anything: Felix Vasquez, age fifty-seven, was receiving $150 a month for his twenty-four years of work. Lawyer Tom Geoghegan, whose lawsuit on their behalf against International Harvester was mired in the courts, told one reporter that men like Vasquez “were cheated by a company they gave their whole lives to.” Thanks to ongoing support from the Crossroads Fund, Lumpkin’s Save Our Jobs Committee (SOJC) remained active, but in South Deering, the plant was now little more than “heaps of rusted scrap.” An anniversary rally drew only two hundred people, and one former worker told the Tribune that South Deering was now “a battered hulk of a neighborhood” strewn with “battered, empty hulks of men.” Now, five years later, no one at all doubted that “Black Friday” had indeed been “the end of an era.” The former Wisconsin workers were not alone. At South Works, most of the south half of the mill had been demolished during the previous winter, and the remaining workforce was static at eight hundred. The Southeast Side’s third major mill, Republic Steel, on the East Side, had a storied history—ten striking workers had been shot dead by Chicago police on Memorial Day 1937. By the mid-1970s, however, it was known to suffer from a “morale problem,” and longtime United Steelworkers Local 1033 president Frank Guzzo “throws up his hands when discussing the increasing number of men who are drinking on the job.” The consequences were severe: in early 1976, 46 percent of the steel shipped from Republic was “rejected because it was not up to standards,” a problem Frank Lumpkin had also seen at Wisconsin. As of early 1982 Republic had an active workforce of five thousand, but eighteen months later that number had been halved. Then, in early 1984, Republic was bought by the Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) conglomerate, which six years earlier had acquired Youngstown Sheet & Tube in Ohio. Guzzo tried to put a bright face on the move, but workers grew increasingly unhappy with Guzzo’s concessionary attitude. In April 1982, Guzzo had won reelection over a young challenger by a margin of 1,167 to 935 in a multicandidate field, but as the April 1985 election neared, a different outcome loomed. Guzzo’s top challenger both in 1982 and three years later was thirty-year-old Maury Richards, a tall, physically imposing man who was attending law school part-time and who in 1984 had mounted a credible insurgent challenge against an East Side state legislator and bar owner who was a Vrdolyak lackey. When the April 1985 ballots were tallied at Republic, it was clear that an era had ended there as well when Frank Guzzo finished fourth with just 331 votes and Maury Richards prevailed with a plurality of 538. However dim the future might be for steelmaking on Chicago’s Southeast Side, the workers now had a new voice, one almost forty years younger than Frank Lumpkin. As 1985 dawned for Jerry Kellman’s CCRC, Time for XII, and DCP trio, he and Ken Jania were joined by a third organizer, an old IAF colleague of Kellman’s named Mike Kruglik. A 1964 graduate of Princeton University, Kruglik had spent several years as a history graduate student at Northwestern University before shifting into organizing in 1973. He spent the mid-1970s working in Chicago, but by 1979 Kruglik was in San Antonio, Texas. Then, late in the fall of 1984, the Roman Catholic Church’s national Campaign for Human Development committed at least $42,000 to CCRC for 1985, and Kellman invited Kruglik back to Chicago to take the lead in building DCP. Several months later the Woods Fund, which had just designated community organizing as its “primary interest,” indicated that it would provide a further $30,000 to support CCRC and DCP salaries. When Ken Jania was offered a much better paying job and left CCRC in March, Kellman asked Adrienne Jackson, who had been conducting parishioner interviews as a volunteer, to come on board full time, and she took up outreach to new churches. Mike Kruglik focused on expanding DCP’s reach across Greater Roseland; a public meeting at St. Thaddeus parish just south of 95th Street attracted both the 21st Ward alderman and Nadyne Griffin, an energetic woman in her late forties who had lived in the Lowden Homes town house project north of 95th Street for many years. She took an immediate liking to Kruglik, but other DCP members, who already found Kellman’s hard-driving style to be grating, thought Kruglik was just more of the same. In late April or early May, the tensions came to a head. “My compadres felt Mike was kind of pushy,” St. Catherine deacon Dan Lee remembered. “So one night we had a little caucus, and it was just us. Mike wasn’t there, Jerry wasn’t there.” The small group agreed that “we are talking about black issues,” Dan recounted. “When we talk to Mike, it’s like we can’t get through…. We need a black person to be our mentor. We need a black person…. Let’s talk to Jerry.” Dan, Loretta Augustine, and Yvonne Lloyd went to Kellman. “Nothing against Mike, but we want somebody black over here because we are black,” Dan recalled. Kellman didn’t argue. “Okay, if that’s what you want, that’s what I’ll do.” From 1980 forward, the entire UNO and CCRC organizing effort had failed to employ an experienced black organizer; only parish volunteer Adrienne Jackson, just added to staff, was African American. Kellman tried to make good on his commitment, but no plausible candidates could be found. “Jerry was busting his behind to find a black organizer,” CCRC’s Bob Klonowski recalled, but was “just having no luck.” Reluctantly, Kellman asked the DCP members to stick with Kruglik after all, but Loretta Augustine took the lead in saying no: “He’s not what we feel we need.” Loretta was “a very strong-willed person,” her colleagues knew, “very outspoken … if she didn’t like something, she let you know,” and her verdict on Kruglik was final. But it was Father John Calicott, the African American associate pastor from Holy Name of Mary, who hammered the point home most forcefully. Calicott had seen the same pattern too many times before throughout the Chicago archdiocese. “I just had a problem with white folks always figuring that they knew more about what to do for us than we did,” he later explained. He had had the same reaction when he first met Kellman. Jerry was “well intentioned, really wants to do the right thing, but cannot hear,” Calicott recalled, and when Kellman had first introduced Kruglik to the DCPers, the same dynamic reoccurred. Calicott posed several questions, asking, essentially, “Are you willing to listen to our ideas?” In essence Mike replied, “ ‘Well, yes, but you know, this is the way we’ve done it before, and we know this is going to work.’ ” That “really left a bad taste in my mouth,” Calicott recounted. When Kellman again asked them to accept Kruglik, and Loretta said no, Calicott spoke up to second Loretta’s refusal: “Let’s get somebody who knows us!” As Loretta vividly recalled, Calicott didn’t stop there. “The priest pointed his finger at Jerry, and he said, ‘I don’t know where you’re looking, but there’s got to be somebody out there who looks like us and thinks like us and understands our needs. So wherever you’ve been looking, you go back and look again.’ ” Yvonne Lloyd remembered those five words just as Loretta did: “go back and look again,” but “Jerry was livid,” Loretta recalled. Kellman insisted he would not jettison Kruglik, and Calicott said fine, but not for DCP. “The whole room was just absolutely quiet,” Loretta remembered, but Kellman agreed that he would look again. Mike Kruglik was not happy about what had happened. “The people said, ‘We don’t want you because you’re not black,’ ” he acknowledged years later. Kellman, feeling “desperation,” told CCRC clergyman Bob Klonowski he would shift gears and advertise for a “black organizer trainee” in addition to an experienced organizer. Since the late 1970s, a little-known national organization called the Community Careers Resource Center had published Community Jobs, a small newsprint magazine comprised mainly of want ads that came out ten times a year. Community Jobs did not have many individual subscribers, but many university and public libraries paid twenty dollars a year to subscribe. It was not a publication they saw any point in retaining—who could possibly want to read job ads from 1985?—and so a quarter century later only one single library would still possess the June 1985 issue containing the job ad that Jerry Kellman submitted. Community Jobs organized its ads geographically, so on page 3, under a large “Midwest” heading and directly below an ad for “Canvass Director, North Dakota,” appeared Jerry Kellman’s ad with a boldface title, “Two Minority Jobs Chicago.” The Calumet Community Religious Conference (CCRC) is an Alinsky organizing project in the industrial heart of Chicago. This region was once a world leader in steel production. However, in the past four years, 50,000 jobs have been lost. CCRC has pulled together 60 churches from the far Southside of Chicago and suburban Cook County to address this economic crisis. Half of CCRC’s budget comes from local church dues. The project is also committed to church renewal. APPRENTICE DIRECTOR Duties: Help to supervise all organizing on the far Southside of Chicago, an area which is 95 percent black. Serve as consultant to local parishes; recruit and train lay leaders in listening skills, research, strategic planning, public action skills and (with local clergy) theological reflection. Requirements: Experience with church-based or community organizing; or experience in leadership and church development; highly disciplined; confident; mature; reflective; able to think and act strategically; experience in black community preferred. Salary: $20,000/year to start, negotiable for more experienced organizer. Automobile allowance; health insurance. To apply: Send resume to Gerald Kellman, Director, CCRC, 351 E. 113th St., Chicago, IL 60628. 312/995-8182. Selected candidates will receive phone interviews. Finalists will have interview in Chicago (CCRC will cover travel expenses). Affirmative action position. TRAINEE Duties and Requirements: Same as for Apprentice Director but not expected to have skills in advance, must have ability to pick up skills and master them quickly. Salary: $10,000/year to start. Similar benefits as Apprentice Director. To Apply: Same as for Apprentice Director. In early June 1985, the new issue of Community Jobs started landing on library shelves across the United States. Chapter Two (#ulink_a85ced20-347e-5640-a342-f389bc68be26) A PLACE IN THE WORLD (#ulink_a85ced20-347e-5640-a342-f389bc68be26) HONOLULU, SEATTLE, HONOLULU, JAKARTA, AND HONOLULU AUGUST 1961–SEPTEMBER 1979 Barack Hussein Obama departed Nairobi’s Embakasi Airport on the evening of August 4, 1959, bound for New York, via Rome, Paris, and London. He was twenty-five years old—not twenty-three, as he would later claim—and he was leaving behind a nineteen-year-old wife, Grace Kezia Aoko, who was three months pregnant with a second child, and a sixteen-month-old son, Roy Abon’go. Obama’s dream was to have an education beyond what was available in colonial Kenya. A possession of Great Britain since the late nineteenth century, Kenya lacked any post-secondary educational institution aside from a newly opened technical college. Three years earlier, a dynamic young Kenyan politician, Tom Mboya—who, like Obama, was a Luo, Kenya’s third-largest ethnic group—had visited the United States and begun making it possible for young Kenyans to seek higher education opportunities there. Mboya was introduced to Bill Scheinman, a wealthy young businessman likewise interested in African decolonization, and thanks largely to Scheinman’s personal largesse, as many as thirty-nine Kenyan students enrolled at a variety of U.S. colleges and universities during the years 1957 and 1958. By 1958, Barack Obama and his young wife were living in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi, yet the first twenty-four years of his life had been anything but easy. The second child, and first son, of Hussein Onyango Obama and Habiba Akumu, he was born near Kendu Bay in the Nyanza region of western Kenya, close to Lake Victoria. Hussein Onyango had served as a cook with the British colonial military forces, traveling widely. Hussein’s third child, Hawa Auma, later recounted that “he loved all the whites, and they loved him.” Another younger daughter, Zeituni Onyango, remembered Hussein as “unyielding and unapologetic…. My father never shed the attitude of a soldier,” nor his belief in corporal punishment for wives as well as children. When Barack Hussein was nine years old and his older sister Sarah Nyaoke about twelve, Hussein Onyango moved the family—now including a second wife, Sarah Ogwel—from Kendu Bay to the village of Kogelo, well north of Lake Victoria in the Alego area of Nyanza, where his ancestors had historic roots. But Alego was wild and rugged, and within a few months, a pregnant Habiba Akumu escaped from her husband and three children and returned to Kendu Bay. In despair, Barack and Sarah soon tried to follow her but were returned to Kogelo to live with their stepmother, Sarah Ogwel, while their father increasingly worked in Nairobi. Decades later Sarah would tell her stepgrandson that his father “could not forgive his abandonment, and acted as if Akumu didn’t exist. He told everyone that I was his mother.” In Kogelo Barack attended Ng’iya Intermediate School, and in 1949, at age fifteen, he took the Kenya Africa Examination. In early 1950, he was admitted to Maseno Mission School, Kenya’s oldest secondary institution. School records initially described Barack as “very keen, steady … reliable and outgoing,” but during his senior year school administrators took a strong dislike to him and effectively expelled him. Classmates acknowledged that Obama had become “rude and arrogant” toward teachers, and the white English principal fingered him as the primary author of an anonymous letter criticizing the school’s practices. Wherever the blame lay, Obama was out of school without having graduated, and a furious Hussein Onyango instructed him to move to Mombasa, Kenya’s eastern port city, to earn his own living. By some time in 1955, Barack had relocated to Nairobi, where he was a clerk typist in a law firm and also did some work for a British engineering firm. At a Christmas Day 1956 dance party back in Kendu Bay, he met sixteen-year-old Grace Kezia Aoko, and the next month, they were married and moved into Obama’s Nairobi apartment. Fourteen months later, Kezia gave birth to Roy Abon’go. Soon thereafter, sometime in mid-1958, Barack met Betty Mooney, the forty-four-year-old American woman who would become his ticket to the United States. For more than a decade before arriving in Nairobi in 1957, Betty Mooney had worked closely with world-renowned literacy advocate Frank Laubach, whose “each one teach one” method had helped millions across the globe learn to read. Mooney had spent eight years in India before moving to Baltimore to oversee the training of additional literacy teachers at the Laubach-sponsored Koinonia Foundation. In Nairobi, she quickly won the active support of Tom Mboya, who introduced her to a large crowd at one of his weekly political rallies. Then, in the summer of 1958, she and Helen Roberts, another American literacy teacher, began preparing a series of elementary instructional readers in Swahili, Luo, and Kamba. In September 1958, Mooney hired the young Barack Obama as her secretary and clerk and paid him the handsome sum of $100 monthly. Before long Obama was taking a lead role in the writing of two Luo readers Mooney’s team was producing. Laubach himself visited Nairobi in November 1958; a photo published in the monthly newsletter Mooney had just launched pictured her, Laubach, and “Mr. B. O’Bama.” This was a great opportunity for Obama to perfect his own English literacy, and Mooney quickly became impressed by his abilities. “Barack is a whiz and types so fast that I have a hard time keeping ahead of him,” she wrote Laubach. “I think I better bring him along and let him be your secretary in the USA.” Indeed, getting to the U.S. was Obama’s express goal, and by early 1959, even without a diploma from a secondary school and with only some UK correspondence courses on his record, he wrote to several dozen U.S. colleges and universities seeking undergraduate admission for fall 1959. He had read about one of them in the Saturday Evening Post, a weekly U.S. pictorial magazine, in Mooney’s office. The University of Hawaii was described as being a “Colorful Campus of the Islands.” The article praised the “multi-racial make-up” of the university’s student body and emphasized that Hawaii was “one of the few spots on earth where there is little racial prejudice.” In early March, Barack Obama received notice of his acceptance from the University of Hawaii, plus a certificate to show U.S. consular officials in order to obtain a student entry visa. Classes would begin on September 21. Betty Mooney was overjoyed, and quickly wrote Frank Laubach to request his help. Barack “is extremely intelligent and his English is excellent, so I have no doubt that he will do well.” Mooney wanted to pay both Obama’s tuition and half of his estimated $800 annual room and board, but she wanted Kenyan officials—and apparently Barack too—to view these funds as a scholarship rather than a personal gift, and Laubach agreed to help. “I remember him very well, and agree that he is unusually smart. I have no doubt that he will do a very good job.” Enclosed with his reply to Mooney was a copy of a letter addressed to the University of Hawaii, which stated that the Laubach Literacy and Mission Fund had granted Obama $400 toward his first year of studies. Barack worked to complete the Luo primers and also advertised in Kenya’s Luo language newspaper, Ramogi, for contributions toward his upcoming expenses in Hawaii. Gordon Hagberg, an American whose family had employed Hussein Onyango Obama while they resided in Nairobi, asked his employer, the African-American Institute (AAI), to assist with Obama’s airfare, explaining that Obama “is what could be called a self-made man.” In late July the U.S. consul general formally issued Barack’s nonimmigrant student visa, and AAI booked and paid for his flights. Obama wrote to Frank Laubach, thanking him “for all that you have done for me to make my ways for further studies possible,” including the essential $400 that actually came from Betty Mooney. Barack hoped to see Laubach during the three weeks that Betty had arranged for him to stay at Koinonia, outside Baltimore, before going to Hawaii. On Sunday morning, August 9, 1959, Barack Hussein Obama arrived on a British Overseas Airways Corporation Comet 4 at New York’s Idlewild Airport and was granted entry to the United States. Even before Obama registered for his fall semester courses on September 21, one of Honolulu’s two daily newspapers, the Star-Bulletin, ran a photo of the twenty-five-year-old freshman in an article entitled “Young Men From Kenya, Jordan and Iran Here to Study at U.H.” Obama had secured a room at the Atherton YMCA, just across University Avenue from the campus, but he told the newspaper he was already surprised by the high cost of living. He enrolled in a roster of unsurprising freshman courses—English Composition, World Civilization, Introduction to Government, Business Calculations—and as the first and only African student on campus, and perhaps the only student always wearing dark slacks and dress shirts rather than casual Hawaiian clothing, Obama was immediately a standout presence at UH. Obama frequented a campus snack bar with lower prices than the main cafeteria, and he soon fell in with a band of friends. Neil Abercrombie was a newly arrived graduate student in sociology from Buffalo, New York; undergraduates Andy “Pake” Zane and Ed Hasegawa had grown up on Oahu—Hawaii’s commercial hub—and the Big Island—Hawaii’s most rural isle—respectively. Abercrombie recalled Obama as “an unforgettable presence” with a “James Earl Jones voice. It was resonant, deep, booming and rich. It carried authority. He spoke in sentences and paragraphs.” Zane agreed. It was “a simply amazing voice,” sometimes “mesmerizing.” But Abercrombie remembered Obama for more than just his voice. “He was always the center of attention because he had an opinion on everything and was quite willing to state it…. He had this tremendous smile, a pipe in his mouth, dark-rimmed glasses with bright eyes. He was incandescent.” Abercrombie told journalist Sally Jacobs how Obama “talked about ambition, his ambition for independence in Africa in general, and his own personal ambition to participate in the emerging nationalism in Kenya … it was the central focus of his life. He was full of such energy and purpose.” Obama’s brimming self-confidence was usually engaging rather than off-putting. “He thought he was the smartest guy in the room, I think, and with good reason … everybody else thought so too,” Abercrombie recalled. “I could easily call him the smartest person I’ve ever met.” Just two weeks into the fall semester, the UH student newspaper, Ka Leo O Hawaii, published a story on Obama, in which he said he chose UH over other acceptances from San Francisco State College and Morgan State College in Baltimore but again referred to Honolulu’s high cost of living. He spoke of his homeland’s desire for independence from Britain, saying, “Kenyans are tired of exploitation.” Several weeks later, Ka Leo O Hawaii ran a photograph on its front page of Obama talking with university president Laurence H. Snyder about UH’s newly proposed trans-Pacific East-West Center. In late November, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin printed its second story on Obama, under the headline “Isle Inter-Racial Attitude Impresses Kenya Student.” This time Obama was quoted as saying he was surprised that “no one seems to be conscious of color” in Hawaii, adding that “people are very nice around here, very friendly.” He hoped to finish his degree in three years and hoped to take up some type of government work when he returned to Kenya. Sometime in November, Betty Mooney, returning to the U.S. via Asia and the Pacific, stopped in Hawaii for several days and was “much impressed” with how well Obama was doing. So was Frank Laubach when he passed through Honolulu several weeks later. In early December Obama sought permission from U.S. immigration officials to work part-time, citing the “high cost of meals,” and he was approved for up to twenty-five hours weekly. Once the 1960 spring semester began, Obama participated in a model United Nations exercise that debated race, and in early June, he submitted a strongly worded letter to the editor criticizing a Star-Bulletin editorial that had denounced “Terror in the Congo.” “Speaking as one who has been in the Congo,” he wrote, Africa needed to throw off “the yoke of colonialism” as “the time for exploitation, special prerogatives and privileges is over.” By midsummer, Obama had moved first to an apartment on Tenth Avenue east of the university, then to one on Eleventh Avenue, and finally westward to a neighborhood just north of the Punahou School. In late July 1960, he submitted a routine request to extend his student visa, noting that he was earning $5 a day as a dishwasher at the Inkblot Coffee Shop while also taking a full summer-session course load. After summer session ended, Obama earned $1.33 an hour from Dole Corporation—Oahu’s principal pineapple grower—during August and September as an “ordinary summer worker.” During his time in Honolulu Obama exhibited an increasing appetite for alcohol. Drinking and talking were two of Obama’s favorite pastimes, but there was also a third. As one female student later told Sally Jacobs, Obama “was always ready to engage you as a woman beyond the normal conversation, you know, to take it one step further. Today you’d call it ‘coming on.’ ” Another woman agreed. “He was flirtatious,” but “he was too close in my personal space. … I thought he was a little bit almost aggressive in his way of meeting and being around women.” Among Obama’s Luo friends in Kenya, “he-man-ship” was “no big deal,” and one of his closest acquaintances later boasted that Luo men of their generation had a “habit of waylaying foreign women and literally pulling them into bed.” When fall 1960 classes began on September 26, Obama’s seven courses included Russian 101. A fellow student was a virginal seventeen-year-old freshman with an incongruous first name who still lived at home with her parents. By early November 1960, however, Stanley Ann Dunham was pregnant. Stanley Ann Dunham was born on November 29, 1942, at St. Francis Hospital in Wichita, Kansas. She received her forename not from her identically named father but from her mother. Seventeen-year-old Madelyn Payne had secretly married twenty-two-year-old Stanley Armour Dunham a month before her own high school graduation in June 1940. Stanley’s mother, Ruth Armour Dunham, had named her second son after the explorer Henry M. Stanley, her eldest son Ralph would later explain, and the Dunhams didn’t see Stanley as “a man’s name or a girl’s name, it was a family name.” Ruth Dunham had committed suicide by swallowing strychnine in 1925, at age twenty-six, after learning that her husband was busy womanizing. Her sons, ages seven and eight, grew up living with their maternal grandparents in the small town of El Dorado, Kansas, and would only “very rarely” ever see their father again. Teenaged Madelyn Dunham was also a devoted fan of the actress Bette Davis, who six months earlier, in a popular feature film titled In This Our Life, had played a southern belle character named Stanley Timberlake. Asked decades later why she had named her daughter Stanley, all Madelyn would say is “Oh, I don’t know why I did that.” Madelyn’s family had been far from pleased about her marriage to Stanley Dunham, who had failed one year of high school and whose older brother Ralph described him as “a Dennis the Menace type” given to naughty high jinks. One of Madelyn’s younger brothers later said, “I think she was looking at Stanley as a way of getting out of Dodge,” and the newlyweds soon set out on a road trip to the San Francisco Bay Area. By 1941 they were back in Kansas, with Stanley apparently working in an auto parts store before enlisting in the army a few months after Pearl Harbor. With her husband away and a new baby to care for, Madelyn moved in with her parents and commuted to a night shift job at a new Boeing B-29 bomber plant in Wichita. Stanley had become a sergeant by the time his unit entered France some weeks after D-Day, but in April 1945 he was reassigned back to Britain before being discharged that August, following Germany’s defeat and Japan’s announced surrender. Just a few weeks later, Stanley, his wife, and his daughter all arrived in Berkeley, where he began taking classes at the University of California. But academic work was not Dunham’s forte. His older brother Ralph, who was working on a Ph.D. at Berkeley, remembered that Stan could not cope with the foreign language requirement. Madelyn’s younger brother Charles heard from his sister that Stanley was more interested in reading murder mysteries than doing his course work, and he expected Madelyn to write his term papers for him. “What can you do when your wife won’t support you in getting an education?” Stan later told Charles. Madelyn was unhappy with their situation, and in mid-1947, Stanley, Madelyn, and four-year-old Ann drove eastward with Ralph Dunham. Following a July 4 stopover at Yellowstone National Park, Ralph dropped the young family off in Kansas, inscribing a copy of C. S. Forester’s Poo-Poo and the Dragons for his niece: “To Stanley Ann Dunham / As a going away present from her Uncle Ralph / Summer of 1947.” More than sixty-five years later that volume and Ann’s other childhood books would lie well preserved in a box in Honolulu. Stanley enrolled in several classes at Wichita State University, but within months, he had taken a sales job at the Jay Paris Furniture Store in Ponca City, Oklahoma, two hours south of Wichita. One colleague later remembered Stan as a successful, first-rate salesman, knowledgeable about both furniture and his customers. He was also remembered as “a smart guy who liked to tell you how smart he was.” In Ponca City, Madelyn initially stayed home before realizing that she had to have a job. “The evening cocktail hour gets earlier every day. If I don’t work, I’ll turn into an alcoholic.” Ann began first grade at Ponca City’s Jefferson Elementary School in September 1948, and in 1950, she transferred to another for third grade after the family moved to a different home. Then, in the spring of 1951, Stanley moved the family more than 250 miles southwest, to Vernon, Texas, when he took a new furniture store job, and Ann completed third grade there, as well as all of fourth, fifth, and sixth, before the peripatetic family again moved, this time back to El Dorado, Kansas. Stanley worked first at a Farm & Home store, then got a better job at Hellum’s Furniture in Wichita, while Ann attended seventh grade in El Dorado. During the summer of 1955, the Dunhams moved yet again, this time all the way westward to Seattle, where Stanley had a job at the huge Standard-Grunbaum Furniture store. They moved into an apartment northeast of the University of Washington’s campus, and Ann walked to nearby Eckstein Middle School for eighth grade. The next summer they moved to Mercer Island in Lake Washington, southeast of downtown Seattle, and Ann began ninth grade at the brand-new Mercer Island High School. They rented a nice apartment in Shorewood, and sometime in 1957 Stan changed jobs once more, working at Doces Majestic Furniture. Throughout high school, Ann went by her given name of Stanley, or Stannie. She made a good number of friends and was taught by some outspokenly progressive teachers. One friend later recalled that Stanley showed little interest in clothes or boys; instead, she and her friends would take a long bus ride to the lively “UDub” campus neighborhood, an unusual expedition for Mercer Island teenagers. At home, tensions about money sometimes brought on loud arguments between Stan and Madelyn, who had found a job as an escrow officer at a bank in nearby Bellevue. Stanley also had a strained relationship with her father, and one high school friend said she “hated her father at the time that I knew her.” Sometime during her senior year, she and a male classmate set off on a nonromantic road trip that took them as far south as Berkeley, California, before anguished parents and law enforcement officials located them there. Stan Dunham flew down and drove them back to Seattle. Also during her senior year, Stannie saw a much-heralded foreign film, Black Orpheus, which was French director Marcel Camus’s adaptation of the famous Greek legend, set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She would still recall the movie a quarter century later, and she may have been especially struck by the film’s male lead, black Brazilian actor Breno Mello. Toward the end of Stannie’s senior year, Stan heard about a job opportunity that was even farther west than Seattle—in Honolulu. Albert “Bob” Pratt, who operated Isle Wide furniture distributors, was adding a retail outlet, and he hired Stan Dunham to run it. The rental home where Pratt’s family lived, at 6085 Kalanianaole Highway, had a backyard cottage, and Stan relocated there sometime before Stannie’s high school graduation. On the day after commencement in June 1960, she and her mother flew to Honolulu. Stannie had not wanted to move to Hawaii, especially given her great attraction to UDub in Seattle, but she was still five months shy of her eighteenth birthday. So, in September 1960, she enrolled as a freshman at the University of Hawaii, taking a philosophy course and perhaps others in addition to Russian 101. How Stanley Ann Dunham’s relationship with Barack Obama commenced and developed remains deeply shrouded in long-unasked and now-unanswerable questions. A quarter century after she became pregnant, her son, temporarily back in Honolulu, would write to his girlfriend that “one block from where I sit, the apartment house where I was conceived still stands.” By early 1961, Barack Obama Sr. was living in apartment 15 at 1704 Punahou Street, just across the street from Punahou School, and while literary license shrank three or four blocks to one, that is where Ann Dunham said her pregnancy originated in November 1960. When the final exam for that Russian 101 course took place on January 28, 1961, Ann Dunham as well as her parents knew she was almost three months pregnant. According to later documents—no contemporary one has ever been located—on Thursday, February 2, 1961, Ann and Barack took a brief interisland flight from Honolulu to Maui and were married in the small county seat of Wailuku, with no relatives or friends present. Obama’s closest confidante, his younger sister Zeituni Onyango, recounted her older brother’s version of what had occurred: “the father of Ann said that they have to marry.” Stanley Dunham insisted that his pregnant daughter get married rather than give birth to a bastard. But why did they go to the time and expense of flying from Honolulu to Maui? Stanley and Madelyn likely did not want any potentially embarrassing questions arising at either Isle-Wide furniture or at the Bank of Hawaii, where Madelyn had been hired as an escrow officer. They knew that marriages on Oahu were regularly listed in both of Honolulu’s daily newspapers, but ones occurring in the outer islands were not. Ann Dunham Obama did not register for spring classes at the University of Hawaii. In contrast, Obama was honored with a Phi Kappa Phi certificate for his freshman-year grade point average and then a few weeks later was named to the Dean’s List because of his fall 1960 GPA. A young English professor, writing to AAI in support of Obama’s request for scholarship assistance for his sophomore year, reported that “Obama has done an exemplary job of getting along with people” and called him “a genuinely enlightened twentieth-century man.” Obama’s friends Neil Abercrombie and Andy Zane were leading local racial equality efforts, and when a national governors’ conference brought outspoken segregationist governor John Patterson of Alabama to Honolulu in June 1961, he was greeted at the airport by about two dozen picketers holding signs proclaiming “Welcome to the Land of Miscegenation.” The lone black participant certainly represented the truth of that slogan, and he told a reporter that “Hawaii gives them an example where races live together,” but he asked “not to be identified” other than as a UH student. But in that student’s own personal context, the races actually did not live together. During her pregnancy, Ann continued to reside with her parents at 6085 Kalanianaole Highway, and Obama remained in his apartment on Punahou Street. When UH’s foreign-student adviser, Mrs. Sumie McCabe, learned of Obama’s new marriage some two months after it occurred, she immediately called the Honolulu office of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to tell the INS about his changed circumstances. INS agent Lyle Dahlin memorialized McCabe’s call in a memo that went into Obama’s file, noting that “the problem is that when he arrived in the U.S. the subject had a wife in Kenya.” McCabe said Obama “is very intelligent,” but he “has been running around with several girls since he first arrived here and last summer she cautioned him about his playboy ways. Subject replied that he would ‘try’ to stay away from the girls. Subject got his USC [U.S. citizen] wife ‘Hapei’ and although they were married, they do not live together, and Miss Dunham is making arrangements with the Salvation Army to give the baby away. Subject told Mrs. McCabe that in Kenya all that is necessary to be divorced is to tell the wife that she is divorced and that constitutes a legal divorce. Subject claims to have been divorced from his wife in Kenya in this method.” The INS was powerless to take any action absent a criminal conviction for bigamy, but Dahlin recommended that Obama be “closely questioned” before he was approved for another extension of his student residency visa and that “denial be considered.” If Ann were to petition on his behalf, “make sure an investigation is conducted as to the bona-fide[s] of the marriage.” Subsequent documents in Obama’s own hand would soon demonstrate that he in no way really considered himself divorced from Kezia. He had grown up in a family and ethnic culture where multiple wives were the norm, and he was not telling the truth about that to McCabe. There are no documents or anyone’s recollections to support Obama’s claim that Ann Dunham intended to give birth to their child and then put it up for adoption. Obama’s closest relative, his sister Zeituni, dismissed the possibility out of hand when the memo first came to light decades later: “no African especially in Kenya would think of giving his child away.” So when Dr. David A. Sinclair delivered Barack Hussein Obama II at 7:24 P.M. on Friday, August 4, 1961, at Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital on Punahou Street, just three blocks south from where the child had been conceived, the Salvation Army was not called. Instead, Madelyn and Stan each called their siblings with the news. Madelyn’s younger brother Charles recounted her description of the new baby: “He’s not black like his father, he’s not white. More like coffee with cream.” Ralph Dunham remembered Stan calling him from the hospital and Madelyn getting on the phone too. Stan’s younger sister Virginia Dunham Goeldner recalled him phoning her too and, fifty years later, expressed astonishment that some of her longtime neighbors in Maumelle, Arkansas, doubted the fact of her grandnephew’s birth. “Why did Stanley call and say he was born and why were they over at the hospital? Why did he bother to call” on that Friday night? The birth occurred exactly two years to the day, and indeed almost exactly to the hour, since Barack Hussein Obama had boarded his flight at Nairobi Embakasi. On Monday, Ann Dunham Obama signed her son’s Hawaii State Department of Health birth certificate, and it was signed on Tuesday by Dr. Sinclair and the local registrar of births. Five days later, on August 13, the Honolulu Advertiser’s listing of “Births, Marriages, Deaths” on page B6 included in the first category “Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, 6085 Kalanianaole Hwy., son, Aug. 4.” The next day’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin carried the same listing on page 24, with copy editors at that paper spelling out “Highway” and “August” in full. The birth certificate only contained the address for “Usual Residence of Mother”; there was no request for an address following “Full Name of Father,” so the newspapers presumed that the newborn’s parents lived together. Less than four weeks after his son’s birth, Barack Hussein Obama applied for and quickly received a routine one-year extension of his student residency visa. Lee Zeigler, newly arrived from Stanford University, had replaced Sumie McCabe as UH’s foreign student adviser, and a different INS agent, William T. Wood II, not Lyle Dahlin, reviewed and approved Obama’s application. Obama said he had received $1,000 in scholarship support via the African-American Institute, but again requested to work for up to twenty-five hours a week to meet the balance of his expenses. He also indicated that sometime subsequent to March 1961 he had moved from Punahou Street to 1482 Alencastre Street, well east of UH’s campus. Barack listed Ann S. Dunham as his spouse, and Agent Wood’s summary memo noted, “They have one child born Honolulu on 8/4/61—Barack Obama II, child living with mother (she lives with her parents & subject lives at 1482 Alencastre St.).” But Wood noted something else too: “U.S.C. spouse to go to Wash. State University next semester.” Sometime soon after Wood wrote that memo, Ann and her weeks-old son flew from Honolulu to Seattle: not so she could attend WSU, in far southeastern Washington State, but to enroll at her beloved UDub, which she had wanted to attend a year earlier. Ann and baby Barack stayed briefly with a family friend on Mercer Island before settling into an apartment at 516 Thirteenth Avenue East in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, well south of the university. According to her UDub transcript, she registered for two evening courses, Anthropology 100: Introduction to the Study of Man and Political Science 201: Modern Government. Classes began in late September. But why did Ann Dunham Obama take her newborn and leave her husband, parents, and Honolulu for the familiar confines of Seattle? She clearly preferred UDub and its environs over UH, but she told half a dozen old high school friends, as well as a woman who also lived at 516 Thirteenth Avenue East and babysat young Barack while Ann attended classes, that she loved her husband. But the young couple never chose to live together at any time following the onset of Ann’s pregnancy, and Ann relocated herself a long airplane flight away as soon as her son was old enough to travel. None of the direct participants—Ann, Obama, Madelyn, and Stan—ever offered a clear explanation that has survived in anyone’s recollections a half century later. Obama had taken to calling his son’s mother Anna, not Ann, and she seems to have adopted this as well, according to both the 1961–62 Polk City Directory for Seattle, which lists “Obama Anna Mrs. studt” and her neighboring babysitter, Alaskan native Mary Toutonghi, who also remembered her as Anna. Ann did well in her fall courses, earning an A in anthropology and a B in political science; she did even better in the winter term that ran from late December 1961 through mid-March 1962, getting As in both Philosophy 120: Introduction to Logic and, interestingly, History 478: History of Southern Africa. Mary Toutonghi babysat regularly during those months on the evenings Ann attended classes, and years later she would recall infant Barack as “very curious and very alert,” “very happy and a good size.” In March Ann enrolled in three regular daytime courses, obtaining Bs in Chinese Civilization and History of Modern Philosophy but changing English Political and Social History to just an audit. With Ann in Seattle, Obama launched into his senior year at UH. Only Neil Abercrombie was aware of Obama’s relationship with Dunham or that he had fathered a child in Honolulu. One new graduate student, Robert Ruenitz, would later admit that “for any of us to say that we knew Obama well would be difficult. He was a private man with academic achievement his foremost goal.” Another 1961 grad student, Cambodia native Naranhkiri Tith, debated nuclear arms with Obama at a widely publicized campus symposium. Obama labeled the issue not a “balance of power” but a “balance of terror” and asserted that most U.S. foreign aid took the form of weapons and other military assistance. Tith and other graduate students also partied regularly with Obama, who “loved to drink” to the point of becoming “totally drunk” at repeated parties. “He also was a womanizer,” Tith recounted years later. Even so, Obama’s academic success continued apace. In mid-January he addressed the NAACP’s Honolulu branch on “Changes in Africa Today,” and in early February, he was featured prominently in a “Dear Friend” fund-raising appeal distributed by Bill Scheinman and Tom Mboya’s African-American Students Foundation. Sent in the name of Ruth Bunche, whose diplomat husband Ralph in 1950 had been the first African American ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize, the letter briefly profiled two young men “of whom we are especially proud” out of more than five hundred African students who were then studying in the U.S. One was completing a graduate degree in engineering at Columbia University; the other was Obama, “an honor student of the University of Hawaii where he will complete a four year course in three years.” The letter predicted Obama would soon qualify for the national academic honor society, Phi Beta Kappa, and in late April he was elected to membership. With graduation only a month away, Obama was also a featured speaker at a large Mother’s Day event organized by the Hawaii Peace Rally Committee to oppose nuclear weapons. The afternoon event drew hundreds to Ala Moana Beach Park. Liberal Democratic state legislators Tom Gill and Patsy Mink were joined on the speakers’ platform by four clergymen and several UH professors. The crowd included powerful International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU) director Jack Hall, and conservative counterprotesters from the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) who waved signs advocating continued U.S. nuclear weapons testing. Speaking to the crowd, Obama denounced “foreign aid which is directed toward military conquest or the acquisition of bases.” Speaking as an African, “anything which relieves military spending will help us,” and if peace were to replace nuclear confrontation, “we will be able to receive your aid with an open mind and without suspicion.” In early May 1962, Betty Mooney Kirk, who had married and relocated to her husband’s hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, wrote to Tom Mboya in Nairobi to seek his help in finding someone to sponsor Obama for graduate school, “preferably at Harvard.” She enclosed a copy of Barack’s résumé, which she had prepared, and it stated that Obama already had applied to and been accepted for graduate study at Harvard, Yale, the University of Michigan, and the University of California at Berkeley. Harvard alone had offered financial aid, in the limited amount of $1,500, but Betty hoped Tom could find further assistance because Barack “has the opportunity and the brains.” Mboya replied with congratulations, but according to Betty was “not very hopeful” about locating available funding. Betty’s colleague Helen Roberts was back in Nairobi, and, perhaps at Betty’s urging, was actively assisting Kezia Obama, now the single mother of two young children—Rita Auma had been born in early 1960, six months after her father’s departure for the U.S. Kezia was sometimes in Kogelo with her two children and Barack’s father and stepmother Sarah, sometimes with her parents in Kendu Bay, and other times staying with her brother Wilson Odiawo in Nairobi. Roberts helped Kezia take some educational courses, and told one friend that Kezia “is very anxious to be a suitable wife for Barack when he returns.” Roberts remarked, “I think Barack will notice quite a difference in her when he at last returns.” In late May 1962, Obama wrote to Mboya and apologized for not having written in a long time. He bragged about his academic achievements at UH, falsely claiming to have already earned an M.A. degree in addition to his impressive three-year B.A. and a 3.6 GPA. Reciting his Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honors as well as an Omicron Delta Kappa award, he told Mboya—twice, in almost identical sentences—that these were “the highest academic honours that anyone can get in the U.S.A. for high academic attainments.” What’s more, he was about to leave for Harvard, “where I have been offered a fellowship for my Ph.D. I intend to take at least two years working on my Ph.D. and at most three years. Then I will be coming home.” Obama closed by telling Mboya, “I have enjoyed my stay here, but I will be accelerating my coming home as much as I can. You know my wife is in Nairobi there, and I would really appreciate any help you may give her.” His letter to Mboya did not mention his second wife or third child, nor did he ever say anything about them to Helen Roberts or to the hugely supportive Betty Mooney Kirk. As his eldest son would ruefully put it years later, by the end of his time in Hawaii “Barack’s life was now a series of compartments.” On June 17, 1962, Obama received his B.A. degree—and not any M.A.—at UH’s commencement. Three days later the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, in an article headlined “Kenya Student Wins Fellowship,” reported how the “straight A” economics major was headed to Harvard to obtain his Ph.D. “He plans to return to Africa and work in development of underdeveloped areas and international trade at the planning and policy-making level,” the story explained. “He leaves next week for a tour of mainland universities,” beginning in California, prior to entering Harvard. In Seattle, Ann’s spring quarter classes had concluded, and her high school friend Barbara Cannon Rusk, who had moved to Utah after graduating, “came back to Seattle in the summer of 1962.” One day, Rusk stopped by Ann’s apartment on Capitol Hill. Her initial visit “was after June, and could have been as late as September. I visited her a couple of times,” she recalled more than forty years later. “She wasn’t in classes, and didn’t have a job. I recall her being melancholy…. I had a sense that something wasn’t right in her marriage. It was all very mysterious,” as her husband was already headed to Harvard. “I didn’t ask her about the relationship.” Also years later, another young woman whose Mercer Island family had known the Dunhams very well, Judy Farner Ware, would recount to Janny Scott, Ann’s biographer, a distinct memory of meeting Ann and Obama in what she recalled was Port Angeles, Washington—the ferry port at the top of western Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, just across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Victoria, British Columbia. She remembered the meeting because an openly flirtatious Obama all but hit on her. Had Obama traveled north from San Francisco to see his second wife and second son in Seattle, and then perhaps they toured the region? Ann didn’t own a car or know how to drive, and neither Ann nor Obama ever mentioned such a visit to anyone in later years. Ann and her son were still in Seattle when Obama left Honolulu for the mainland. Perhaps it should be presumed that Obama did set eyes on his newborn son back in August 1961 before Ann and the baby left for Seattle—though no one’s surviving accounts say that did occur—but unless Obama made some equally unrecorded, unremembered visit to Seattle before heading eastward, he would not have seen his son for years to come. In truth, as one scholar would acutely put it, Barack Hussein Obama was only “a sperm donor in his son’s life.” Almost three decades later, his eldest daughter would meet Ann Dunham and ask her what had happened between her and her father. Ann’s story then was that Obama had asked her to join him at Harvard, but “she had not wanted to go. She had loved him, but she had feared having to give up too much of herself.” By mid-July 1962, Obama had gotten as far east as Oklahoma, where he stopped in Tulsa to visit Betty Mooney Kirk and her husband. By no later than August 17, he was in Baltimore, at the Koinonia Foundation’s campus, where he had stayed exactly three years earlier. While there, he updated his immigration papers, telling the INS his study at Harvard would be supported by $1,000 each from Frank Laubach’s Literacy Fund and the Phelps Stokes Fund, in addition to his university fellowship. On his “Application to Extend Time of Temporary Stay,” Obama listed himself as married, but under children entered only one name: “Roy Obama.” By September, Obama had arrived at Harvard, and Ann and her now one-year-old son had returned to Honolulu. Stan and Madelyn had moved from Kalanianaole Highway to an apartment on Alexander Street, but Ann and young Barack initially stayed at 2277 Kamehameha Avenue, close to UH. Ann sat out the fall semester, but in January 1963, she resumed taking classes as a sophomore. Sometime prior to the end of 1963, Stan and Madelyn relocated to a house at 2234 University Avenue, and Ann and her son soon moved in with her parents. As Ann adapted to a heavier academic load, and Madelyn worked long days at her bank job, young Barack spent most of his time with his fit and youthful forty-five-year-old grandfather. Obama Sr.’s old friend Neil Abercrombie, still a graduate student at UH, saw Stan and young Barry—as his grandparents called him—around town during Barry’s childhood. “His grandfather was the most wonderful guy” and it was readily apparent that “Stanley loved that little boy,” Abercrombie remembered. “He took him everywhere,” including to an arrival ceremony for two Gemini astronauts who had splashed down safely in the Pacific after an aborted space flight. Barack would “remember sitting on my grandfather’s shoulders” at Hickam Air Force Base and “dreaming of where they had been.” Abercombie recalled: “In the absence of his father, there was not a kinder, more understanding man than Stanley Dunham. He was loving and generous.” Indeed, among the dozens of photos of young Barry from his childhood, it is impossible to find one where he is not smiling broadly. Stan’s boss’s daughter, Cindy Pratt Holtz, remembers Stanley bringing Barry with him to the Pratt furniture warehouse. Young Obama was “so full of life, a twinkle in the eye, giggling all the time.” In the fall of 1966, five-year-old Barry began kindergarten at nearby Noelani Elementary School, and Aimee Yatsushiro, one of his two teachers, remembers him similarly: “always smiling—had a perpetual smile.” Obama later said, “My earliest memory is running around in a backyard gathering up mangoes that had fallen in our backyard when I was five” or perhaps four. “A lot of my early memories,” he added, are “of an almost idyllic sort of early childhood in Hawaii.” In the meantime, his barely twenty-one-year-old mother had found new happiness in tandem with her studies. “Lolo” Soetoro—officially Soetoro Martodihardjo, after his Javanese father’s name—first arrived in Honolulu from Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in September 1962 as a twenty-seven-year-old graduate student in geography. After his first year of classes, Soetoro spent the summer of 1963 at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, but that fall he returned to UH for the final year of his two-year master’s program. He and Ann met each other sometime during those months. One mutual friend recalled that “he had a good sense of humor, and he loved to party.” Ann would later remark how attractive Lolo was in tennis shorts. “She liked brown bums,” her most outspoken friend would tell biographer Janny Scott, and by early 1964, Ann and Lolo were a public couple. Seemingly because of this new romance, on January 20, 1964, Stanley Ann Dunham Obama signed a “Libel for Divorce,” as Hawaii legal process termed the form, and five days later the complaint was officially filed in Honolulu circuit court. A copy was addressed to Barack H. Obama in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Obama had been at Harvard for almost eighteen months. He was one of thirty-five newly admitted doctoral students in the Department of Economics, and in a December 1962 letter to a friend in Hawaii, Obama confessed that “the competition here is just maddening.” The heavy reading load made every week “pretty rough,” and while “I find Harvard a very stimulating place at least intellectually,” his focus was “my own research on the theory I am trying to build.” He added, “I will stay here at least for two years to three years depending on when I am able to finish my dissertation,” but after he received a C+ and two Bs in his first semester, Harvard refused to renew his fellowship to cover his second year of classes. Two senior economists nonetheless praised Obama’s “intelligence, initiative, and diligence,” and thanks once again to Betty Mooney Kirk and the African-American Institute, external funding allowed him to continue. Barack first lived at 49 Irving Street before moving into a top-floor apartment at 170 Magazine Street with a Nigerian fellow, one of about eighty African students at Harvard—a vast change from his unique status in Honolulu. Obama actively mentored younger Kenyan students from around greater Boston; George Saitoti, who was eighteen years old when he knew Obama, told biographer Sally Jacobs “we looked upon him as a model. He really gave us inspiration.” In the fall of 1963, Obama’s brother Omar Onyango, a decade younger, arrived in Boston to attend the posh Browne & Nichols School, just west of Harvard, thanks to his older brother’s social acquaintance with a young woman whose father was the school’s treasurer. That same young woman, like a number of Obama’s African friends in Cambridge, also witnessed a continuation—and perhaps an intensification—of the heavy drinking and heavy-handed pursuit of women that had marked Barack’s three years at UH. “He’d dance in a very suggestive way, no subtlety,” that female friend recounted to Sally Jacobs. “He used suggestive, provocative language, I would say overly sexual…. It was kind of a God’s gift to women thing.” One Nigerian friend recalled telling a drunken Obama to leave a young woman alone, and an African undergraduate woman told Jacobs about consoling a fellow female undergraduate who had been an Obama girlfriend until she learned he was already married, presumably to Kezia. In late January 1964, Rev. Dana Klotzle, who oversaw the Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA) sponsorship of about a dozen East African students who, like Omar, were attending secondary schools around Boston, notified the local INS office of a troubling development. A young Kenyan woman who was attending school in Auburndale, Massachusetts, had suddenly flown to London on January 10 on a round-trip ticket. UUA had terminated her sponsorship and would not accept her back; an INS agent phoned the school for additional information. The dean of women said the girl had claimed she was visiting a sick sister, but there was no evidence of a sister in Britain. What’s more, she had been “receiving advice from another student from Kenya, one Obama who is likely her boy friend and who is at Harvard.” The Unitarians suspected she had flown to London to obtain an abortion. Obama had been phoning the school seeking her reinstatement and also had called a second school, which refused to accept her. Rev. Klotzle, the memo reported, thought Obama was “a slippery character.” The Boston INS office then notified the U.S. consul in London of the girl’s flight and Obama’s involvement. In Hawaii, on March 5, Judge Samuel P. King held a brief hearing on Ann’s divorce petition; fifteen days later, he signed a “Decree of Divorce.” Ann was “granted the care, custody and control of Barack Hussein Obama, II,” with Obama Sr. having “the right of reasonable visitation.” Pursuant to Ann’s request, “the question of child support is specifically reserved until raised hereafter.” As with Ann’s initial complaint, a copy was mailed to Obama in Cambridge. Four weeks later, Obama visited the Boston INS office to extend his student residency visa for another year. For the new application, Harvard certified that “Mr. Obama expects to be registered as a full-time student during the academic year 1964–65,” but the INS agent reviewing the file noted the January contretemps and a supervisor instructed him to “hold up extension for present.” The agent made several calls to Harvard, in part because Obama had left blank both the marital line and the one about employment, stating there that he could not remember where he had worked in the U.S. The agent noted: “Harvard thinks he’s married to someone in Kenya and someone in Honolulu, but that possibly he belongs to a tribe where multiple marriages are O.K.” Obama’s doctoral qualifying exams were soon approaching, and the director of Harvard’s international students office wanted to hold off on questioning Obama until those were finished. Obama was aware of the inquiries, and he called the INS to say he now remembered working at the Institute of International Marketing in Cambridge during the summer of 1963. Harvard officials told the INS that Obama might also be married to someone in Cambridge, and in mid-May David Henry, director of Harvard’s international students office, called INS agent M. F. McKeon to say he had conferred with both a graduate school dean and the chairman of Harvard’s Economics Department. “Obama has passed his general exams, which indicates that on academic grounds, he is entitled to stay around here and write his thesis,” McKeon wrote in a memo memorializing the phone conversation. “However, they are going to try to cook something up to ease him out. All three will have to agree on this, however. They are planning on telling him that they will not give him any money, and that he had better return to Kenya and prepare his thesis at home.” That would take several weeks, but “at this time Harvard does not plan on having Obama registered as a full-time student during the academic year 1964–1965 as stated on” Obama’s application a month earlier. On May 27, 1964, Harvard’s David Henry sent Obama a life-changing letter. It began by acknowledging that Obama had completed his course work and that only his thesis remained to be completed before he could get his Ph.D. But the letter also said that neither the Department of Economics nor the graduate school had the funds to support him in Cambridge. It then said, “We have, therefore, come to the conclusion that you should terminate your stay in the United States and return to Kenya to carry on your research and the writing of your thesis.” He was given until June 19—which was hardly three weeks away!—to arrange for his departure. Henry indicated that copies of the letter were going to graduate school associate dean Reginald H. Phelps, a historian of modern Germany, and Economics Department chairman John T. Dunlop, a distinguished professor who would go on to become dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and then U.S. secretary of labor. Unspoken in Henry’s letter—though crystal clear in Obama’s INS file—was Harvard’s unwillingness to continue hosting a man whose sexual energies, whether inter-African or serially miscegenous, would not be tolerated in tony Cambridge as they had been in multihued Honolulu. Two weeks later an INS form letter instructed Obama that he had until July 8, instead of June 19, to depart the United States. On June 18, an understandably agitated Obama phoned the Boston INS office and insisted that he be given specific grounds for why his residency extension was being denied. An INS agent emphasized that the decision was final, but Obama called again the next day and asked to speak to the district director, who refused to take the call. Obama declared he lacked funds to leave the U.S., and the next day he asked a Harvard secretary to call the INS on his behalf. She too was told INS’s ruling was final. At that point, Obama apparently gave up; on Monday, July 6, 1964, he departed from New York’s newly renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport bound for Paris and then Nairobi, which, as of seven months earlier, was now the capital of newly independent Kenya. On the other side of the United States, Ann Dunham and Lolo Soetoro were married on Monday, March 15, 1965, on Molokai, a smaller Hawaiian isle southeast of Oahu. Neither Ann’s son nor her parents attended the ceremony, which took place only three months before Lolo’s current residency visa would expire. He had received his M.A. in geography in June 1964, but a month later both UH and the INS approved another one-year residency during which he could get practical experience working for local engineering and surveying firms. INS documents indicate that Ann and Barry never moved to 3326 Oahu Avenue, where Lolo was living, but instead remained at 2234 University Avenue with Stan and Madelyn. The looming question of whether Lolo would be able to remain in the U.S. beyond June soon brought both him and Ann into extensive contacts with the INS that mirrored what her ex-spouse had experienced a year earlier. Sometime during May or June 1965, UH’s East-West Center (EWC), which had sponsored Lolo’s graduate study, received a cable from the Indonesian embassy in Washington requesting Soetoro’s immediate return to Jakarta. But Lolo and Ann had already taken the initiative to win an extension of his visa, and following two joint interviews at the Honolulu INS office, on June 7 Lolo’s residency permit was extended until mid-June 1966. On July 2, when Lolo informed the EWC of that, he was summoned to a July 6 meeting to be reminded “that the East-West Center still retained visa sponsorship and authority” regarding his residency. Lolo said he had sought the extension because his wife was suffering from a stomach ailment that might require surgery, but later that day EWC phoned INS, which immediately summoned both Lolo and Ann to another interview on July 19. In the interim, Ann, using Dunham as her surname, applied for and received her first U.S. passport. Officials from the EWC visited the Honolulu INS office to explain that their agreement with the Indonesian government required that “every effort will be made to return students at the completion of their grants.” Thus EWC “shall appreciate any effort which you can make to insure that Mr. Soetoro will be returned to Indonesia as soon as possible.” Before the July 19 session, Lolo submitted a statement to the Honolulu INS office noting that in his homeland “anti-American feeling has reached a feverish pitch under the direction of the Indonesian communist party.” This was supported by widespread U.S. press reports. Lolo asserted, “I have been advised by both family and friends in Indonesia that it would be dangerous to endeavor to return with my wife at the present time.” In addition, “I would meet with much prejudice myself in seeking employment” because of his U.S. educational background, and “land belonging to my family has already been confiscated by the government as part of a communistic land reform plan,” a policy that press reports again corroborated. Citing his “former compulsory association with the Indonesian army while still a student,” Lolo also feared being dragooned into battlefield service in Indonesia’s armed conflict with Malaysia if he returned home. Soon after the July 19 interview, INS Honolulu recommended denial of any ongoing residency for Lolo. But almost two months later, the EWC notified Indonesia’s San Francisco consulate that Lolo would return to Indonesia in June 1966—and his wife would accompany him. This was just days before Indonesia was plunged into months of bloody, widespread violence in which hundreds of thousands of the previously ascendant Communists and perceived sympathizers were slaughtered by the Indonesian army and allied militias. That turmoil commenced with an unsuccessful, Communist-backed revolt against the army leadership by a small band of junior officers on September 30, 1965. For the next six months, the violently anti-Communist army leadership took firm control of the country and a half million or more civilians were killed. Even with knowledge of the tumult, Ann, on November 30, gave the INS an affidavit acknowledging, “I don’t feel that I would undergo any exceptional hardship if my husband were to depart from the United [States] to reside abroad as the regulations require.” Those rules would allow Lolo’s readmission, as her husband, after two years’ absence from the U.S., a preferable course to being hamstrung by EWC’s deference to Indonesian authorities. If the elimination of the anti-American Communist presence in Indonesia is what caused Lolo and Ann to change their strategy, that has gone unrecorded. Ann’s affidavit did, however, say she was “living with my parents in the home which they rent” and that “my son by a former marriage lives there with us.” INS’s efforts to revoke Lolo’s existing extension petered out, and on June 20, 1966—the last possible day—Lolo Soetoro flew out of Honolulu bound for Jakarta. After Lolo’s departure, Ann took a secretarial job in UH’s student government office and also began doing some temporary nighttime tutoring and paper grading. That gave her an income of about $400 per month, and she told INS officials she hoped to save enough money to join Lolo in Indonesia in summer 1967. “We figure on going and staying until my husband’s time is up and then come back together.” With young Barry in kindergarten at Noelani Elementary School, and Stan and Madelyn both working full-time, Ann spent $50 to $75 a month for a babysitter on weekdays from 2:30 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. In December 1966, she told INS that she expected to complete her B.A. degree in anthropology in August 1967 and would join Lolo in Indonesia that October. She was already attempting to secure employment at the U.S. embassy in Jakarta. INS did not appear open to waiving the two-years-abroad requirement for Lolo, and in May 1967 INS agent Robert Schultz phoned Ann for an update. “She and her child will definitely go to Indonesia to join her husband if he is not permitted to return to the United States sometime in the near future, as she is no longer able to endure the separation,” Schultz noted. “Her son is now in kindergarten and will commence the first grade next September and if it is necessary for her and the child to go to Indonesia, she will educate the child at home with the help of school texts from the U.S. as approved by the Board of Education in Honolulu.” Unbeknownst to Ann, this description of young Barry’s educational plight would set in motion a change in the INS’s attitude about a waiver. Still, in late June, she applied to amend her 1965 passport, taking Soetoro rather than Dunham as her surname. In August 1967, just as Ann was receiving her B.A. from UH, INS, layer by bureaucratic layer, gradually agreed to grant Lolo a waiver, and two months later notified the State Department of that intent. Nine months would then pass before the Honolulu INS office realized that State had never responded. In the interim, sometime in October 1967, twenty-four-year-old Ann Soetoro and six-year-old Barry Obama boarded a Japan Airlines flight from Honolulu to Tokyo. During a three-day stopover, Ann took Barry to see the giant bronze Amida Buddha in Kamakura, thirty miles southwest of Tokyo. Then they boarded another plane, headed for Jakarta via Sydney. In Honolulu, Barry had begun first grade at Noelani Elementary School, and upon arrival in Jakarta, Ann initially followed through on her promise to homeschool her son. Home was 16 Haji Ramli Street, a small, concrete house with a flat, red-tiled roof and unreliable electricity on an unpaved lane in the newly settled, far from well-to-do Menteng Dalam neighborhood. Jakarta was a sprawling metropolis, but one where bicycle cabs—becak, in Indonesian—and small motorbikes far outnumbered automobiles. Outside of the privileged expatriate community, where young children attended the costly international school, “Jakarta was a very hard city to live in,” said another American woman—later a close friend of Ann’s—who lived there in 1967–68. One had to deal with nonflushing toilets, open sewers, a lack of potable water, unreliable medical care, unpaved streets, and spotty electricity. When Ann and Barry arrived, Lolo was indeed working for the Indonesian army’s mapping agency, though now, unlike four months earlier, he was based on the other side of Jakarta, not hundreds of miles away in far-eastern Java. Barry would later say that “for me, as a young boy,” Jakarta was “a magical place.” Revisiting the city more than forty years later, he recounted how “we had a mango tree out front” and “my Indonesian friends and I used to run in the fields with water buffalo and goats” while “flying kites” and “catching dragonflies.” But during the long rainy season, Jakarta was no wonderland: Barry, like others, would have to wear plastic bags over his footwear, and on one mud-sliding jaunt, he badly cut his forearm on barbed wire, a wound that required twenty stitches and left him with what he later called “an ugly scar.” In January 1968, Ann enrolled Barry, using the surname Soetoro, in a newly built Roman Catholic school three blocks from their home—“she didn’t have the money to send me to the fancy international school where all the American kids went,” Barry later recounted. That allowed Ann to take a paid job as assistant to the director of a U.S. embassy–sponsored program offering English language classes to interested Indonesians. Barry’s school, St. Francis Assisi, as its name would be rendered in English, was avowedly Catholic: “you would start every day with a prayer,” Barry later explained, but classes met for only two and a half hours on weekday mornings. His first-grade teacher there, Israella Darmawan, decades later told credulous reporters, “He wrote an essay titled, ‘I Want to Become President’ ” during that spring of 1968, prior to his seventh birthday. She also told journalists that Barry struggled greatly to learn Indonesian; in contrast, Obama later boasted that “it had taken me less than six months to learn Indonesia’s language, its customs, and its legends.” Barry’s second-grade teacher, Cecilia Sugini, spoke no English, but Barry received more exposure to the Indonesian language during family visits to Lolo’s relatives in Yogyakarta, in central Java. Yet even his third-grade teacher, Fermina Katarina Sinaga, later stated that eight-year-old Barry was not fluent in Indonesian. And she would also tell wide-eyed reporters that Barry, during the fall of 1969, declared in a paper, written in Indonesian, that “Someday I want to be President.” One journalist, embracing Sinaga’s direct quotation forty years later, would insist that Sinaga’s “memory is precise and there is no reason not to trust it.” By the end of 1969, Lolo, thanks to his nephew “Sonny” Trisulo, switched to a much better job with Union Oil Company of California. Soon thereafter, he, Barry, and newly pregnant Ann moved to a far nicer home at 22 Taman Amir Hamzah Street in the better neighborhood of Matraman. Around the same time, Ann left the English teaching post, which she had come to loathe, for more rewarding work, primarily in the evenings, at a nonprofit management training school headed by a Dutch Jesuit priest. Moving houses also meant that Barry would attend the Besuki elementary school, which traced its roots back thirty years to Indonesia’s Dutch colonial government. Classes met for five hours each weekday, double what St. Francis Assisi offered. Ann’s new work schedule gave her time to intensify her efforts to homeschool Barry in English using workbooks from the U.S. At Besuki, his all-Indonesian classmates found Barry—or “Berry,” as they pronounced it—unique not only because of his darker complexion and chubby build but also because he was the only left-hander. Before the spring of 1970 was out, and with a second child on the way, Ann hired an openly gay twenty-four-year-old, sometimes-cross-dressing man—Turdi by day, Evie by night—to be both cook and nanny. Neighbors thought little of it. “She was a nice person and always patient and caring in keeping young Barry,” one later recalled. Turdi often accompanied Barry to and from school. Later, Turdi, at age sixty-six, told the Associated Press: “I never let him see me wearing women’s clothes. But he did see me trying on his mother’s lipstick sometimes. That used to really crack him up.” Sometime apparently also during that spring, Barry saw something that, in his later tellings, had a vastly more powerful impact upon his young mind. A quarter century passed between the moment and Obama’s first telling of it, but in his 1995 version, the memory was of paging through a pile of Life magazines in an American library in Jakarta and finding an article with photographs of a man of color who had paid for chemical treatments in a horribly unsuccessful attempt to make himself appear white. In Obama’s 1995 account, “thousands of people like him, black men and women back in America,” had “undergone the same treatment in response to advertisements that promised happiness as a white person.” To him, “seeing that article was violent for me, an ambush attack,” leaving his image of his own skin color “permanently altered.” In a conversation soon after writing that, Obama recounted how “after reading that story, I knew there had to be something wrong with being black.” Earlier, while “growing up in Hawaii, all of the kids were kind of brown,” so “I didn’t stand out” and “I was too busy running around being a kid” to appreciate racial differences. At his two Jakarta schools, he experienced some normal teasing by other children, but to no obvious or remembered ill effect. “He was a plump kid with big ears and very outgoing and friendly,” one of Ann’s closest Jakarta friends later recalled. Nine years later, Obama described the memory again. “I became aware of the cesspool of stereotypes when I was eight or nine. I saw a story in Life magazine about people who were using skin bleach to make themselves white. I was really disturbed by that. Why would somebody want to do that?” A few weeks later, Obama again recounted seeing a Life magazine picture of “a black guy who had bleached his skin with these skin-lightening products.” That was “the first time I remember thinking about race” and worrying that having darker skin was “not a good thing.” In 2007, a reporter told Obama that no issue of Life magazine ever contained such an article or such photographs; this was confirmed by Life. “It might have been an Ebony or it might have been … who knows what it was?” a flustered Obama responded. But then Ebony too examined its archive of past issues and found no such story. Indeed, the other two major picture magazines of that era, Look and the Saturday Evening Post, published no such story either. Yet Obama understandably stood by his recollection: “I remember the story was very specific about a person who had gone through it and regretted it.” But Ebony had published a somewhat similar story, in its December 1968 issue, titled “I Wish I Were Black—Again.” It was a profile of Juana Burke, a young African American art teacher who at age sixteen had begun to suffer from vitiligo, a disease which turned portions of her dark brown skin white as it killed off pigmentation cells. The article included photographs of her forearm and legs. Dermatologists’ efforts to counteract the spread of the affliction through skin chemicals and even prolonged sunbathing failed completely, and Ms. Burke reluctantly accepted her pale new appearance. The four-page Ebony spread stressed that she “retains her old sense of black pride and identifies with her people,” and she continued to teach at a predominantly black school. However, becoming white had left her “very pessimistic about the future of race relations in this country.” A black boyfriend had ditched her, and she was dismayed to repeatedly experience a “more courteous attitude” from white strangers than she had when she had been visibly black. Had eight-year-old Barry actually seen that issue of Ebony? Who knows. But many teenagers growing up in the 1960s heard about a journalist named John Howard Griffin, a white Texan who, in the late 1950s, had undergone chemical treatments so he could pass as black and write about the experience—the obverse of Ms. Burke’s deflating color change. Griffin’s resulting book, Black Like Me, first published in 1961, was a nationwide best seller and was made into a major motion picture. Irrespective of what magazine pictures young Barry did or did not see, the overarching question of how and why anyone would seek to alter their visible racial identity had become a staple of U.S. popular culture in the late 1960s, even if the notion of any African American becoming white was starkly out-of-date in the new era of “I’m Black and I’m Beautiful.” Obama’s encounter with the pictures had seemingly been a “turning point,” “a transformation in the life story that marks a considerable shift in self-understanding” and in “his racial identity development.” The Obama of 1995, 2004, and 2007–08 certainly agreed—“Growing up, I wasn’t always sure who I was”—regardless of whether at age ten, at age eighteen, or even at age twenty-seven he actually pondered the memory of those images. Sometime in the late spring of 1970 Ann Dunham, in concert with her father and no doubt her mother, decided that within a year’s time, when Barry would begin fifth grade, he should continue his future schooling in Honolulu rather than Jakarta. Stan Dunham’s twenty-year career as a furniture salesman had ended sometime in 1968, following changes in Bob Pratt’s enterprises, and by 1969, he was one of about twenty-five agents at John S. Williamson’s John Hancock Mutual Insurance agency in downtown Honolulu. Perhaps because of a decrease in income from that shift, Stan and Madelyn had left the rental home at 2234 University Avenue and relocated to unit 1206 in the Punahou Circle Apartments at 1617 South Beretania Street, just a few blocks south of Punahou School. Ann had been aware of Punahou, and its unequaled-in-Hawaii educational reputation, since her earliest months in Honolulu. Her son was even conceived just across Punahou Street from its spacious campus. Founded in 1841 by Christian missionaries, Punahou had a student body that was still predominantly white—haole, in local parlance—and its alumni included many of Oahu’s civic elite. Fifth grade was one of the two best opportunities—ninth was the other—for youngsters who had not started elementary school there to gain admission, as class sizes increased at the middle and then high school levels. It is unknown when Ann first thought of sending Barry there, but Stanley had become good friends with Alec Williamson, who also worked at his father’s insurance agency. Alec’s dad had graduated from Punahou in 1937, and both of his sisters had gone there as well, although he had not. Punahou administered admissions tests and required personal interviews. It was “the quintessential local school,” Alec’s sister Susan later explained, and the Dunhams were mainlanders, but John Williamson was more than willing to recommend Stanley’s bright grandson to his alma mater: “My dad wrote the letter,” Alec recounted forty years later. Sometime in the summer of 1970, eight-year-old Barry, apparently unaccompanied, flew back to Honolulu to live for some weeks with his grandparents—and, more important, to interview with Punahou’s admissions office and take the necessary tests. In his own later telling, those were glorious weeks—lots of ice cream and days at the beach, a radical upgrade from daily life and school in Jakarta. Then, one late July or early August afternoon, after an appointment at Punahou, and with Barry still dressed to impress, Stan took his hapa-haole—half-white—grandson to meet one of his best friends, a sixty-four-year-old black man who had fathered five hapa-haole Hawaiian children of his own. During their first ten years in Honolulu, Stan and Madelyn’s favorite shared pastime had become contract bridge. Madelyn’s brother Charles Payne later said they played “with almost a fanaticism” and “they were really, really into it” and “worked well together.” Through that hobby, they had met another bridge-playing couple: Helen Canfield Davis, a once-wealthy white woman in her early forties, and her almost-two-decades-older African American husband, Frank Marshall Davis. By 1970, Frank Davis’s publications, involvements, and activities—some self-cataloged, others invasively and meticulously collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1944 until 1963—were extensive enough to suggest that Davis had led three lives. And indeed he had: almost twenty years as a widely published, often-discussed African American poet and journalist, close to a decade as a dues-paying member of the Communist Party USA, and an entire adult life as an unbounded sexual adventurer. Born the last day of 1905 in Arkansas City, Kansas—just sixty miles south of Wichita and the neighboring small towns where Stan and Madelyn Dunham would grow up some fifteen years later—Frank’s parents divorced while he was a child. He was raised by his mother, stepfather, and grandparents; he graduated from high school, spent a year working in Wichita, and then attended Kansas State Agricultural College. Already interested in poetry and journalism, he left school in 1927 to move to Chicago and found work with a succession of black newspapers there and in nearby Gary, Indiana. In 1931 Frank moved to Atlanta for a better newspaper job, and while there, he met and married Thelma Boyd. He returned to Chicago in 1934, drawn back primarily because of an intense affair with a married white woman who encouraged him to pursue poetry more seriously. His first volume of poems, Black Man’s Verse, appeared in mid-1935, followed by two more volumes in 1937 and 1938. By the early 1940s Davis had a reputation as an African American writer of significant power and great promise, a leading voice in what would be called the Chicago Black Renaissance. Decades later, one scholar of mid-twentieth-century black literature would say that Davis was “among the best critical voices of his generation,” but his most thorough biographer would acknowledge that “Davis’s poetry did not survive the era in which it was written,” in significant part because much of it was so polemically political. Another commentator observed that “even at the moments of narratorial identification with the folk, a certain distance is formally maintained.” Similarly, asked years later about an oft-cited poem titled “Mojo Mike’s Beer Garden,” Frank readily acknowledged that his portrayal “was sort of a composite.” Starting in 1943–44, Frank also began teaching classes on the history of jazz at Chicago’s Abraham Lincoln School, a Communist-allied institution aimed especially at African Americans. Frank would later complain that “only two black students” took the course in four years, but among the whites who enrolled was a twenty-one-year-old, newly married woman with a wealthy stepfather named Helen Canfield Peck. Within little more than a year, she and Frank had secured divorces and were married in May 1946. In or around April 1943, Frank had become a dues-paying member of the Communist Party USA, according to FBI informants within the party. From mid-1946 until fall 1947, Frank wrote a weekly column for a newly founded, almost openly Communist newspaper, the Chicago Star; in 1948 he published 47th Street: Poems, which scholars later said was his best book of verse. During the summer of that year, Helen Canfield Davis, who had also joined the party, read a magazine article about life in Hawaii. Not long after that, Frank spoke about the islands with Paul Robeson, the well-known singer who shared his pro-Communist views. Robeson had visited Hawaii in March 1948 on a concert tour sponsored by the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU) to boost the left-wing Progressive Party. Frank also heard about life in the islands from ILWU president Harry Bridges. Then that fall, Helen received an inheritance of securities worth tens of thousands of dollars from her wealthy stepfather, investment banker Gerald W. Peck. With that windfall, Frank and Helen decided to see for themselves what Hawaii was like for an interracial couple; they packed with an eye toward making this a permanent move and arrived in Honolulu on December 8, 1948. From their hotel in Waikiki, Frank called ILWU director Jack Hall at Bridges’s suggestion. The FBI had a tap on Hall’s phone, and this prompted them to watch Frank as well; according to Bureau files, Frank and Helen met Hall in person on December 11. Far more important, though, Frank and Helen thought Hawaii was simply “an amazing place,” and that ironically racial prejudice “was directed primarily toward male whites, known as ‘haoles.’ ” As Frank later recounted, “Virtually from the start I had a sense of human dignity. I felt that somehow I had been suddenly freed from the chains of white oppression,” and “within a week” he and Helen agreed they wanted to remain in Hawaii permanently, “although I knew it would mean giving up what prestige I had acquired back in Chicago.” By May 1949, Frank began writing an unpaid regular column for the Honolulu Record, a weekly paper that matched his political views. In July the FBI placed his name on the Security Index, a register of the nation’s most dangerous supposed subversives, and four months on he was added to DETCOM, the political equivalent of the Bureau’s “most wanted” list of top Communists marked for immediate detention in the event of a national emergency. Frank had realized almost immediately that he would not be able to make a living as a writer in Hawaii, and in January 1950, he started Oahu Paper Company. That same month he and Helen purchased a home in the village of Hauula, thirty miles from Honolulu in northeastern Oahu, for their quickly growing family that included daughter Lynn, who was approaching her first birthday, and son Mark, who would be born ten months later. The FBI began constant surveillance of the Davises’ mail in mid-1950, and in March 1951, a fire at Oahu Paper destroyed thousands of dollars’ worth of stock. The Bureau’s agents reported that Frank was fully insured, and in June 1952 an informant who had quit Hawaii’s Communist Party told agents he had personally collected Frank and Helen’s monthly party dues for the last two years. In early 1953 Frank became president of the small Hawaii Civil Rights Congress (HCRC), but within two years the group was “almost inactive.” The FBI also noted that on Christmas Day 1955 the Communist Party’s national newspaper, the Daily Worker, included an article by Frank on jazz. By that time, Frank and Helen had a third child, but in April 1956, he closed Oahu Paper, filed for personal bankruptcy, and took a job as a salesman. That summer the family moved from Hauula to Kahaluu. Several months later, Eugene Dennis, general secretary of CPUSA, writing in a national newspaper, and then Frank in his weekly Honolulu Record column, said “there is no longer a Communist Party in Hawaii.” Even so, Mississippi senator James O. Eastland, chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Internal Security Subcommittee, scheduled a December hearing in Honolulu to probe Soviet activity in the balmy islands. Fearing how Davis might dress down the notoriously racist Eastland in a public hearing, the subcommittee instead subpoenaed Davis to appear at a private executive session, where he took the Fifth Amendment three times when questioned about his CPUSA ties. Just two weeks later, in another Record column, Frank forcefully attacked the Soviet Union for its military invasion of Hungary, calling the move “a tragic mistake from which Moscow will not soon recover.” But Honolulu FBI agents, and their informants, kept their focus on Frank. In mid-1957 he told one supposed friend that Helen had taken up with a visiting musician who was performing in Waikiki. The Bureau quickly took note of Frank’s move to the Central YMCA for a month before he and Helen reconciled and the family moved to a house up in Honolulu’s Kalihi Valley neighborhood. In February 1958 Helen gave birth to twin daughters, and a year later Frank started a new company, Paradise Papers. Two years later, agents learned that Helen was working for Avon Products and “works mostly in the evenings making house calls. As a result, subject is now forced to spend most of his evenings babysitting and has little opportunity to contact his former friends outside working hours.” That led Honolulu agents to request that Frank be demoted from the top-risk Security Index, but FBI headquarters refused until early 1963, when it ordered Honolulu to interview Frank about his past affiliations, and Frank met with two agents in Kapiolani Park on August 26, 1963. Asked to confirm his CPUSA membership, Frank said the party had not existed in Hawaii for at least seven years and that it would do him no good to acknowledge his past membership. But, Frank added, he would “consort with the devil” in order to advance racial equality. With that the FBI finally closed its file on fifty-seven-year-old Frank Marshall Davis. Frank busied himself with Paradise Papers, but it, and Helen’s work, hardly provided enough money to raise a family. By June 1968, Frank’s two eldest children had graduated high school, and that summer Frank earned a modest sum of money by publishing a self-proclaimed sexual autobiography, Sex Rebel: Black—Memoirs of a Gash Gourmet, under the pseudonym “Bob Greene.” It began with an introduction, supposedly authored by “Dale Gordon, Ph.D.,” which observed that the author may have “strong homosexual tendencies.” “Bob Greene” then acknowledged that “under certain circumstances I am bisexual” and stated that “all incidents I have described have been taken from actual experiences” and were not fictionalized. “Bob’s” dominant preference was threesomes, and he recounted the intense emotional trauma he experienced years earlier when he learned that a white Chicago couple with whom he had repeatedly enjoyed such experiences were killed in a violent highway accident. “Bob,” or Frank, championed recreational sex, arguing that “this whole concept of sex-for-reproduction-only carries with it contempt for women. It implies that women were created solely to bear children.” And Frank did little to hide behind the “Bob Greene” pseudonym with close friends. Four months after the 323-page, $1.75 paperback first appeared, Frank wrote to his old Chicago friend Margaret Burroughs to let her know about the availability of “my thoroughly erotic autobiography.” Since it was “what some people call pornography (I call it erotic realism),” it would not be in Chicago bookstores. “You are ‘Flo,’ ” and “you will find out things about me sexually that you probably never suspected—but in this period of wider acceptance of sexual attitudes, I can be more frank than was possible 20 years ago.” He closed by telling Burroughs, “I’m still swinging.” In June 1969, Frank moved from his family’s home to a small cottage just off Kuhio Avenue in the cramped, three-square-block section of Waikiki known as the Koa Cottages or simply the Jungle. He and Helen divorced the next year, and, as his son Mark would later write, Frank “entered his golden years with glee,” given what life in the Jungle offered. As Frank described it, his little studio had a tiny front porch “only two feet from the sidewalk” and “my pad is sort of a meeting area, kind of a town hall to an extent.” The Jungle was “a place known for both sex and dope,” and was really “a ghetto surrounded by high-rise buildings,” but it was without a doubt “the most interesting place I have ever lived.” Soon after moving there, Frank became known as the “Keeper of the Dolls,” and he later recounted how he had written “a series of short portraits called ‘Horizontal Cameos’ about women who make their living on their backs.” Two of Frank’s closest acquaintances from the early and mid-1970s readily and independently confirm that Stan Dunham was one of Frank’s best friends during the years he lived in the Jungle. Dawna Weatherly-Williams, a twenty-two-year-old white woman with a black husband and an interracial son, was by 1970 effectively Frank’s adopted daughter and called him “Daddy.” She later described Stan as “a wonderful guy.” She said he and Frank “had good fun together. They knew each other quite a while before I knew them—several years. They were really good buddies. They did a lot of adventures together that they were very proud of.” As of 1970 Stan “came a couple of times a week to visit Daddy,” and the two men particularly enjoyed crafting “a lot of limericks that were slightly off-color, and they took great fun in those” and in other discussions of sex, which Dawna would avoid. Despite what was readily available in the neighborhood, “Frank never really did drugs, though he and Stan would smoke pot together,” Dawna remembered. Stan had told Frank about his exceptionally bright interracial grandson well before August 1970. According to Dawna, “Stan had been promising to bring Barry by because we all had that in common—Frank’s kids were half-white, Stan’s grandson was half-black, and my son was half-black.” Decades later she could still picture the afternoon when Stan brought young Barry along to first meet Frank: “Hey, Stan! Oh, is this him?” She remembers that over the next nine or ten years, Stan brought his grandson with him again and again when he went to visit Frank, and as Barry got older, Stan encouraged him to talk with Davis on his own. Obama would remember, “I was intrigued by old Frank,” and years later his younger half sister, Maya Kassandra Soetoro, who was born on August 15, 1970, during her brother’s visit with their grandparents in Hawaii, described Stanley telling her that Davis “was a point of connection, a bridge if you will, to the larger African American experience for my brother.” Once Obama entered politics, Davis’s Communist background plus his kinky exploits made him politically radioactive, and Obama would grudgingly admit only to having visited Davis maybe “ten to fifteen times.” Soon after Ann Dunham Soetoro’s second child was born, Madelyn Dunham, along with her grandson, flew to Jakarta to see her new granddaughter and to meet Lolo’s mother and family. Within weeks nine-year-old Barry was back at Besuki school to start fourth grade. The boy who sat next to him, Widiyanto Hendro, later “said Obama sometimes struggled to make himself understood in Indonesian and at times used hand signals to communicate.” The summer in Honolulu had not improved his limited grasp of the Indonesian language, and Lolo’s relatives who saw Barry during his fourth-grade school year noted how much chubbier he had become during his now three-plus years in Indonesia. For more than a year in Honolulu, Lolo Soetoro had served as Barry’s off-site stepfather, often roughhousing with him and also playing chess with Stanley at the Dunhams’ home. Then, in Jakarta, Barry lived with Lolo on a daily basis for just more than three years, and throughout that time the young boy was impressed with Lolo’s knowledge and self-control, especially the latter. “His knowledge of the world seemed inexhaustible,” particularly with “elusive things,” such as “managing the emotions I felt,” Obama would later write. Lolo’s own temperament was “imperturbable,” and Barry “never heard him talk about what he was feeling. I had never seen him really angry or sad. He seemed to inhabit a world of hard surfaces and well-defined thoughts.” Three decades later, after Obama’s memoir Dreams From My Father was published, he would select the brief portrait of Lolo he had written when asked to give a short reading from his book. In that scene, young Barry asks his stepfather if he has ever seen someone killed, and when Lolo reluctantly says yes, Barry asks why. “Because he was weak,” Lolo answers. Barry was puzzled. Strong men “take advantage of weakness in other men,” Lolo responds, and asks Barry, “Which would you rather be?” Lolo declares, “Better to be strong. If you can’t be strong, be clever and make peace with someone who’s strong. But always better to be strong yourself. Always.” In subsequent years, Obama would believe that by 1970–71, Lolo’s acclimation to his new job with Union Oil led Ann to become increasingly disillusioned with her second husband’s evolution into an American-style business executive. Obama admired Lolo’s “natural reserve” if not his “remoteness,” and believed his mother’s growing disappointment with Lolo led her to use an image of his absent father to persuade her son to pursue a life of idealism over comfort. “She paints him as this Nelson Mandela/Harry Belafonte figure, which turns out to be a wonderful thing for me in the sense that I end up having a very positive image” of my father, Obama would later recount. “I had a whole mythology about who he was,” a “mythology that my mother fed me.” But his memories of Lolo from 1970–71 would become dismissive. “His big thing was Johnnie Walker Black, Andy Williams records,” Obama recalled. “I still remember ‘Moon River.’ He’d be playing it, sipping, and playing tennis at the country club. That was his whole thing. I think their expectations diverged fairly rapidly” after 1970. Some scholars would later credit “the Javanese art of restraint, of not displaying emotions, of never raising your voice,” all of which young Barry witnessed in Lolo, with deeply influencing Obama. Lolo “was as close to a father figure as Obama ever had,” albeit briefly, and “the lessons Obama learned from Jakarta and Lolo,” particularly not “disclosing too much about how one feels,” supplied the human template for Obama’s own practice and appreciation of the “benefit of managing emotions,” a second commentator would conclude. In subsequent years, when asked about the impact on him of his three-plus years in Indonesia, Obama more often cited an external perception—“I lived in a country where I saw extreme poverty at a very early age”—than any internal conclusions or emotional lessons. “It left a very strong mark on me living there because you got a real sense of just how poor folks can get,” he told one questioner twenty years later. “I was educated in the potential oppressiveness of power and the inequality of wealth,” he told another. “I witnessed firsthand the huge gulf between rich and poor” and “I think it had a tremendous impact on me,” he explained more than once. Such an insistent theme would lead one smart journalist to assert years later that for Obama, “Indonesia was the formative experience.” Sometime soon after his tenth birthday, in early August 1971, Barry again flew from Jakarta to Honolulu. As he had the previous summer, he would live with his grandparents, and in September he began fifth-grade classes at Punahou School, just a four-block walk up Punahou Street. Families of fifth (and sixth) graders received a “narrative conference report form three times during the school year. No letter grades are given. At the initial conference during the fall, achievement test scores, the class standing and a detailed written evaluation of progress in each subject area will be discussed.” Four major subject areas—Language Arts, Social Studies, Mathematics, and Science—were supplemented by a weekly arts class, a music class, and four sessions of physical education. A year’s tuition was $1,165. With two well-employed parents, plus his grandparents—Madelyn nine months earlier had been named one of Bank of Hawaii’s first two women vice presidents—Obama did not receive any form of financial aid. For Mathematics and Science, Barry was taught by twenty-five-year-old Hastings Judd Kauwela “Pal” Eldredge, who had graduated from Punahou seven years earlier and earned his undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University. For Language Arts and Social Studies, in 307 Castle Hall, Barry had his homeroom teacher, fifty-six-year-old Mrs. Mabel Hefty, a 1935 graduate of San Francisco State College who had taught at Punahou since 1947 and had spent a recent sabbatical year teaching in Kenya. At Punahou, fifth graders had homework, and after a brief period of Barry tackling it at the Dunhams’ dining room table, Stan asked Alec Williamson, his insurance agency friend, to build a desk to go in Barry’s small bedroom. In return, Barry offered Williamson a guitar he had lost interest in. (Williamson still had it more than forty years later.) As an adult, Obama would praise Hefty for making him feel entirely welcome and fully at home among classmates, most of whom had been together since kindergarten or first grade. Hefty split her class into groups of four at shared desks; Barry was with Ronald Loui, Malcolm Waugh, and Mark “Hebs” Hebing, his best friend that year. “Mrs. Hefty was a great teacher,” Hebing recalled. “One of the first things we had to do” was “memorize the Gettysburg Address”—“the whole thing.” In Hebing’s memory forty years later, Barry was the first student to succeed. There was one other African American student, Joella Edwards, in Barry’s fifth-grade class, and she was “shocked” by the arrival of her new classmate. She would remember Barry as “soft-spoken, quiet, and reserved,” but he hung back from befriending her in any way. Ronald Loui, like Joella, would recall other classmates teasing both her and Barry with common grade-school rhymes. “There were many times that I looked to Barry for a word, a sign, or signal that we were in this together,” Joella later wrote, but none ever came. For the next three years too—grades six, seven, and eight—they would be the only two black students in Punahou’s middle school, but no bond ever formed before Joella left Punahou come tenth grade. In late October 1971, Ann Dunham returned to Honolulu from Jakarta. It is unclear who suggested what to whom, but the timing of her trip was not happenstance because five weeks or so after her arrival in Honolulu, Barack H. Obama Sr. arrived there as well, from Nairobi. The seven years since Obama Sr. had been forced to leave the United States in July 1964 had been eventful and often painful. Not even a week after his departure, an agitated woman from Newton, Massachusetts, Ida Baker, twice telephoned the Boston INS office to report that her twenty-seven-year-old daughter, Ruth, was so romantically infatuated with Obama she was planning to follow him to Kenya and get married. In late August, Mrs. Baker called again to say that Ruth had flown to Nairobi on August 16. An INS agent checked in with Unitarian reverend Dana Klotzle, as well as an official at Harvard, both of whom reported that Obama already had two wives, plus a child in Honolulu. Mrs. Baker acknowledged that Ruth knew of at least the wife in Kenya, but pursued Obama anyway. The agent concluded the report with: “Suggest we discourage her from further inquiries,” because it was “time consuming and to no point where her daughter, an adult and apparently fully competent, is in possession of the information re Obama’s marriages.” Ruth Beatrice Baker, a 1958 graduate of Simmons College, had become involved with Obama in April 1964 after meeting him at a party. “He had a flat in Cambridge with some other African students, and I was there almost every day from then on. I felt I loved him very much—he was very charming and there never was a dull moment—but he was not faithful to me, although he told me he loved me too.” In June, Obama told her he had to return to Kenya, but said she “should come there, and if I liked the country we could marry. I took him at his word” and bought a one-way plane ticket despite how “devastated” her parents were. But Obama was not at the Nairobi airport to meet her, and a helpful airport employee who knew Obama took her home, made some phone calls, and Obama soon appeared. “We went off and started living together” in a home at 16 Rosslyn Close, but “right from the very start he was drinking heavily, staying out to all hours of the night” and “sometimes hitting me and often verbally insulting me,” Ruth later recounted. “But I was in love and very, very insecure so somehow I hung on.” On December 24, 1964, she and Obama were formally married; by then his two oldest children, Roy and Rita, were living with him and Ruth in Nairobi. As Barack’s younger sister Zeituni described the highly uncomfortable situation: “the children did not know their father, and this white mother did not speak Luo.” Zeituni moved in with them to try to ease the tensions, but Obama’s deepening alcoholism—Johnnie Walker Black Label was his drink of choice—and abusive behavior made for an unceasingly volatile situation. Following his return from the U.S., Obama had a job with Shell Oil Company, but five months after Tom Mboya became Kenya’s minister of economic planning and development in December 1964, Obama became a senior economist in that ministry. That involved a move to a house at 101 Hurlingham Road, and within three weeks of Obama’s joining Mboya’s team, the ministry issued a landmark fifty-two-page sessional paper titled “African Socialism and Its Application to Planning in Kenya.” In it, President Jomo Kenyatta declared that under his KANU (Kenya African National Union) Party, Kenya “would develop on the basis of the concepts and philosophy of Democratic African Socialism” and had “rejected both Western Capitalism and Eastern Communism” as models for economic development. Kenyatta said that publication of the paper “should bring to an end all the conflicting, theoretical and academic arguments that have been going on,” for political stability and confidence could not be established “if we continue with debates on theories and doubts about the aims of our society.” The paper was understood to be primarily Mboya’s own handiwork, and knowledgeable commentators praised it as “a middle-of-the-road approach” aimed at tamping down strong ideological differences within KANU. When students at a left-wing institute voiced critical objections, parliament authorized an immediate takeover of the school, with Mboya seconding the motion to do so. But less than eight weeks later, the East Africa Journal published an eight-page critique of the paper written by Barack H. Obama. There was no mistaking Obama’s political views. “The question is how are we going to remove the disparities in our country,” and “we may find it necessary to force people to do things which they would not do otherwise.” In addition, “we also need to eliminate power structures that have been built through excessive accumulation so that not only a few individuals shall control a vast magnitude of resources as is the case now.” Obama argued that the sessional paper was too tolerant of such “economic power concentrations” and what was “more important is to find means by which we can redistribute our economic gains to the benefit of all.” Not only should government “tax the rich more” and pursue nationalization; it should do so in an explicitly racial way. “We have to give the African his place in his own country,” he asserted, “and we have to give him this economic power if he is going to develop.” Obama ended with a political call to arms. “Is it the African who owns this country? If he does, then why should he not control the economic means of growth in this country? … The government must do something about this and soon.” Obama’s essay also featured some thinly veiled special pleading, observing that “we do not have many people qualified to take up managerial positions” or “who could participate intelligently in policy-making functions.” What’s more, “the few who are available are not utilized fully.” Obama almost certainly believed he deserved a more senior job in the government. Not surprisingly, his employment at the ministry came to an end within months after his searing article was published. With that came another household move, this time to city council housing at 16A Woodley Estate. Sometime soon after that, a drunken Obama insisted on taking the wheel of his friend Adede Abiero’s new car and promptly wrecked it. Abiero died in the crash. Obama suffered only minor injuries, but his longtime friend Leo Odera Omolo later said, “Barack never really recovered from that. It had a strong impact.” Even so, it did not lead to any increased self-discipline or sobriety. In November 1965 Obama contacted Harvard, seeking the university’s support for a return to the U.S. so he could present his Ph.D. dissertation. But the registrar’s office rebuffed his request, saying he had failed to register its title with Harvard’s Economics Department. Ruth later recalled Obama telling her that his dissertation materials had disappeared following a burglary in which their television was stolen, but in any event Obama failed to pursue the matter further with Harvard, although in Kenya he would often declare himself to be Dr. Obama. On November 28, 1965, Ruth and Obama’s first child, Mark Okoth Obama, was born, but their home life remained fraught with drunken abuse. In 1966 there was increased tension in Kenya’s domestic politics, beginning when left-wing Luo vice president Oginga Odinga broke from KANU and formed a new opposition party, the Kenya People’s Union (KPU). That was seen as a “direct challenge to Kenyatta,” and days later KANU pushed through two constitutional amendments, one mandating new parliamentary elections and another enlarging the president’s national security powers to allow for detention without trial. Kenyatta’s security services turned an increasingly hostile eye toward foreigners, and particularly Americans, who were in Odinga’s political orbit. The American-born wife of the first Kenyan to attain a Ph.D., Julius Gikonyo Kiano, was charged with disloyalty and expelled; some months later the focus was on a young white American woman from southern Illinois, Sandra Hansen, who had come to Nairobi as a Northwestern University undergraduate interested in African literature. While taking classes at what by then was University College Nairobi, she met a Luo student who invited her to a party at which “the center of attention,” as she recounted years later, was a somewhat older Luo man, Barack Obama. Sandy found him “funny, charming,” and “extremely charismatic,” and they “became fast friends and spent a lot of time together” during 1966 and 1967, by which time Hansen was teaching at a boys’ school. “His drinking started to be more of a problem,” she recollected, but he “loved music, dancing and dressing well.” Obama was the first person Hansen turned to when Kenyan security officers told her she had seventy-two hours to leave the country or be arrested. Obama accompanied her to see some official in the security ministry, who displayed an extensive file they had collected on her. “I think, Sandy, you’ve got to go,” Obama told her. When her day of departure arrived, Obama drove her to the airport and walked her to the boarding area. Almost fifty years later, Hansen’s memories of what Mark Obama would later call “my father’s warm and gracious side” are a partial counterpoint to the alcoholic rages that Ruth and his African children endured. But that side was memorialized in an indelible way too, even if for half a century only the tiniest number of people knew the story. Upon leaving Nairobi, Hansen stopped in London, where she saw her Luo boyfriend, Godfrey Kassim Owango, like Obama an economist and later chairman of Kenya’s Chambers of Commerce. Back in Illinois, nine months later, Hansen gave birth to a son. She named him not for his father, but for the Kenyan man she most admired and remembered, Barack Obama. Few other people’s experiences with Obama mirrored Sandy Hansen’s. In September 1966, Obama had found new employment, with the Central Bank of Kenya, but he was terminated nine months later. Then Ruth, fed up with his violence, fled with one-year-old Mark to the United States. Obama flew across the Atlantic and persuaded her to return to Kenya. “He was a man I had a very strong passion for,” Ruth told Sally Jacobs years later. “I loved him despite everything,” but Obama’s behavior hardly changed for the better. In September 1967, he secured a new job as a senior officer at the Kenya Tourist Development Corporation (KTDC), but within six weeks there were reports that he had drunkenly driven his vehicle into a milk cart one day at 4:00 A.M. By the new year, Ruth was pregnant with their second child; David Opiyo Obama was born on September 11, 1968, at Nairobi Hospital. Sometime in late 1968 Neil Abercrombie and Andy “Pake” Zane, two of Obama’s best buddies from the University of Hawaii, came through Nairobi as part of a months-long tour through Europe, the Middle East, and East Africa. “He showed us around, we stayed at his house, partied, had a good time,” and met Ruth, Roy, Rita, and young Mark, Zane recalled more than forty years later, with dozens of photographs from that visit spread out before him. Abercrombie thought “he seemed very frustrated … that he was being underutilized” at KTDC. As Zane recalled to Sally Jacobs, “The one thing Barack wanted was to do something for his country, but he felt he could not” accomplish anything significant at KTDC. “He was angry, but it was contained.” Yet Abercrombie recalled that “he was drinking constantly. It was as though the drinking was now part of his existence.” But in retrospect, one other thing stood out in both friends’ memories: Obama never asked about his American son or his ex-wife Ann. At about 1:00 P.M. on Saturday, July 5, 1969, Tom Mboya was shot and killed at close range outside Chhani’s Pharmacy on Nairobi’s Government Road. Just moments earlier, Barack Obama had seen Mboya’s car parked on a yellow line in the street and had stopped to talk and joke with his friend for four or five minutes. “You will get a ticket,” he had warned. A gunman was arrested, though it was commonly believed that Mboya’s assassination was ordered by someone at or near the peak of Kenya’s government. On September 8, Obama was the prosecution’s final witness at the gunman’s trial, testifying about Mboya’s final sidewalk chat. The defendant was convicted and soon hanged, but that resolved nothing. Far more than one man had died on Government Road, for Kenya’s future as a nonviolent, multiethnic, multiparty democracy died with Tom Mboya. In June 1970, Obama was fired by the KTDC because of serial dishonesty in matters large and small. Some months later, he had another drunken car crash, and this time he suffered at least one badly injured leg that required prolonged hospitalization. Still, by the early fall of 1971, he was planning a trip to the U.S., perhaps in part because he expected that Ruth would flee from him again, this time permanently. Rita Auma Obama, who was eleven years old by the time of her father’s 1971 departure, recalled him speaking of her American brother and how Ann “would send his school reports to my father.” Her older brother Roy, later Abon’go Malik, would later remember seeing “an old briefcase” that contained “the divorce letters, and Ann Dunham’s letters.” Even Ruth told Sally Jacobs how “very proud” Obama was of his American son. “He had a little picture of him on his tricycle with a hat on his head. And he kept that picture in every house that we lived in. He loved his son.” Barack Obama Sr. arrived back in Honolulu almost ten years after he had left there with glowing credentials to earn a Harvard Ph.D. and then help guide Kenya’s economic future. Now he had no doctoral degree, no job, and a visible limp. How he financed the trip remains a mystery. He planned to stay for a month, and the Dunhams had sublet an apartment downstairs from theirs where Obama could sleep. Madelyn’s younger sister Arlene Payne, who also was in Hawaii at that time along with her lifelong companion, Margery Duffey, later told Janny Scott, “I had the sense then, as I had earlier, that both Madelyn and Stanley were impressed with him in some way. They were very respectful to him” and “they liked to listen to what he had to say.” How Ann viewed Obama’s visit, and whether he did suggest to his married ex-spouse that he would welcome her and their son joining him in Kenya, is unknown. Obama still referred to her as Anna, and he brought along for his ten-year-old son a trio of Kenyan trinkets: “three wooden figurines—a lion, an elephant, and an ebony man in tribal dress beating a drum.” Ann, Stan, and Madelyn had prepared Barry for the visit with intensified renditions of the upbeat themes Ann had insistently sounded during Barry’s earlier years. “My father was this very imposing, almost mythic figure,” he recounted years later. “In my mind he was the smartest, most sophisticated person that my maternal grandparents had ever met.” Then, when they first met, his father entirely lived up to his advance billing, at least in the son’s subsequent retelling of it. “He was imposing and he was impressive, and he did change the space around him when he walked into a room,” Barry recalled. “His capacity to establish an image for himself of being in command was in full force, and it had an impressive effect on a ten-year-old boy.” “He was an intimidating character,” the son told a subsequent interviewer. “He had this big, deep, booming voice and always felt like he was right about everything.” All told, it “was a very powerful moment for me,” but he also confessed later that his father’s visit was deeply unsettling. “If you’ve got this person who suddenly shows up and says, ‘I’m your father, and I’m going to tell you what to do,’ and you don’t have any sense of who this person is, and you don’t necessarily have a deep bond of trust with him, I don’t think your reaction is, ‘How do I get him to stay?’ I think the reaction may be ‘What’s this guy doing here and who does he think he is?’ ” One day during the first two weeks, Ann told her son that Mabel Hefty had invited his father to speak to her and Pal Eldredge’s fifth-grade classes about Kenya. That news made Barry nervous, but Obama Sr. carried off the appearance in fine form, and Barry was enormously relieved. Years later, Eldredge could still picture the scene: “He seemed to be real proud, right at his side, kind of holding on to his dad’s arm.” Barry’s classmate Dean Ando recalled it similarly: “All I remember is Barry was just so happy that day it was incredible … the dad and Barry had the same smile.” Young Obama remembered Eldredge telling him, “You’ve got a pretty impressive father,” and a classmate saying, “Your dad is pretty cool.” A few days after Obama’s appearance at Punahou, he took his son to a Honolulu Symphony concert featuring the famous jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, who was joined by his sixteen- and nineteen-year-old sons, Daniel and Christopher, on bass and drums. It was a grand event. The Honolulu Chorale joined the symphony and the family trio to perform Brubeck’s new oratorio, The Light in the Wilderness. Hawaii’s junior U.S. senator, Daniel K. Inouye, served as narrator for the piece. For Christmas, Obama gave Barry his first basketball. But the end of the month was fast approaching. Obama failed to look up his old Honolulu friends Neil Abercrombie and Andy “Pake” Zane, and when he was with his son, “he never pushed me to speak,” Barry later recounted. “It was only during the course of that month—by the end of that month—that I think I started to open myself up to understanding who he was. But then he was gone, and I never saw him again.” Right after New Year’s, Ann applied for a new U.S. passport in order to “return home” to Jakarta on January 14, 1972. She listed her stay there as “indefinite,” but within a month she made the first of three requests that spring 1972 for UDub to send copies of her old 1961–62 transcript to University of Hawaii’s graduate school. In Honolulu, Barry immediately started putting his favorite Christmas present to good use, playing basketball with his good friend Mark Hebing, among others, sometimes at several courts on King Street only a block or so south of his grandparents’ apartment building. His math and science teacher, Pal Eldredge, would remember fifth-grade Barry as “a happy kid. He had a good sense of humor and was smiling all the time,” as virtually every photo of young Obama from that time confirms. “He was a rascal too—he had a little spunk to him,” Eldredge adds, but “he was always smiling” and was “a good student—he related well with everybody.” Obama Sr.’s old buddy Neil Abercrombie, now at work on a Ph.D. dissertation and holding down a variety of odd jobs, would run into Stan Dunham and Stan’s grandson several times that spring. “When I would see them, Stanley would offer how bright Barry was and how well he was doing in school. He had ambitions for little Barry,” Abercrombie remembered. “It was obvious to everybody and certainly must have been obvious to little Barry that his grandfather not only loved him but, more importantly, liked him and liked having him around and liked him as a pal.” By September 1972, when Barry began sixth grade, Ann and now-two-year-old Maya had returned to Honolulu from Jakarta so that Ann could begin graduate study in anthropology that fall at UH, thanks to a grant from the Asia Foundation. Ann and both of her children lived in apartment #3 at 1839 Poki Street, only one short block west of Punahou. A classmate who sat beside Barry remembered a “chubby-cheeked boy” who was “articulate, bright, funny, and kind.” Sixth-grade coursework added “oceanography, electricity and atomic structure” to the science class and also introduced students to “the use and abuse of drugs.” In addition, one week at Camp Timberline gave the class an opportunity to try archery and horseback riding; four decades later homeroom teacher Betty Morioka still had a photograph showing a pensive Barry in an oversized gray T-shirt, a rare instance of a picture in which he was not smiling broadly. Young Obama’s clearest memory was of a Jewish camp counselor who described the time he had spent in Israel. Not long after the end of that sixth-grade year, Ann, Madelyn, Barry, and Maya set off on a long tour of the American West. They first flew to Seattle—Ann’s first time back there, or anywhere else on the mainland, since her return to Hawaii eleven years earlier—and then headed south down the West Coast. From Disneyland, in Southern California, they headed east to the Grand Canyon, then to Kansas City, where Madelyn’s sister Arlene was teaching at the University of Missouri. From there it was north to Chicago, then back westward to Yellowstone National Park and San Francisco before returning to Honolulu. Ann told a friend the trek was “pretty exhausting” since “we traveled by bus most of the way.” Her son remembered chasing bison at Yellowstone, but also the “shrunken heads—real shrunken heads” at Chicago’s Field Museum. “That was actually the highlight. That was almost as good as Disneyland.” As summer ended, Ann wrote to an old friend in Seattle to say that “I do hope to spend most of my time for the next few years in the islands, since my son Barry is doing very well in school here, and I hate to take him abroad again till he graduates, which won’t be for another 6 years.” In seventh grade Barry began foreign language (French) instruction, and his other classes would also now be taught by departmental specialists. Barry’s homeroom was in 102 Bishop Hall with Joyce Kang; a yearbook photo of the group labeled “Mixed Races of America” declared, “Whether you’re a [Sarah] Tmora, a [Pam] Ching, or an Obama, we share the same world.” A girl who had pre-algebra and other seventh- and eighth-grade classes with Barry remembered him as “boisterously funny and a big, good-hearted tease” who had “a variety of friends and activities,” one of which was now tennis. Throughout these years, Barry spent a good deal of time at Punahou’s tennis courts, and one classmate, Kristen B. Caldwell, later wrote and spoke about one incident that remained painfully clear in her memory. A chart of who would play whom in some tournament had just been posted by Tom Mauch, Punahou’s tennis pro. Mauch, then in his early forties, had come to Punahou in 1967 from Northern California’s East Bay. Barry and other students were running their fingers along the chart when Mauch told him, “Don’t touch that, you’ll get it dirty!” In Caldwell’s memory, “he singled him out, and the implication was absolutely clear: Barry’s hands weren’t grubby; the message was that his darker skin would somehow soil” the diagram. “I could tell it upset Barry,” she recalled, but “he said, ‘What do you mean by that?’ with just a perfect amount of iciness to get his point across.” Mauch fumbled for a response. “Nothing—I was making a joke.” Only once, in 1995, would Obama himself expressly refer to the incident with the tennis pro. In subsequent years, aside from one unspecific allusion, Obama never mentioned the exchange to any interviewers. Contacted forty years later and asked for the very first time if he remembered Obama, Tom Mauch refused to talk about his years at Punahou. Barry’s eighth-grade year featured one semester of Government and Living in a World of Change and one of Christian Ethics instead of social studies. “Biblical faith is placed in the context of the world in which we live” while examining “the relationship between faith and the everyday experiences of life,” Punahou’s catalog explained. For French, Barry had his former homeroom teacher, now Joyce Kang Torrey. In the fall, a still-chubby Barry played defensive end on the intermediate football team coached by Pal Eldredge, his fifth-grade teacher. According to Punahou’s catalog, the yearlong science class stressed “human physiology and health … drug and sex education are part of the curriculum as the need and interest are manifested.” Toward the end of the school year, on April 30, an evening open house called “Science ’75” featured eighth graders’ second-semester science projects. Barry’s was titled “Effects of Music on Plants,” though his friend Mark Bendix’s “The Effect of Aerosol Spray on Plants” was probably easier to execute. During Barry’s eighth-grade year, Ann finished her graduate coursework, passed her Ph.D. qualifying exams, and gave up the Poki Street apartment to return to Indonesia with four-year-old Maya. She and Lolo had informally separated in mid-1974, and Ann would later record that Lolo did not contribute to her or Maya’s support after that time, though her relationship with both him and his parents remained caring and cordial. With her departure from Honolulu, Barry moved back in with his grandparents, who in 1973 had moved from their twelfth-floor apartment to unit 1008 in the same building. Barry spent the summer of 1975 in Indonesia with Ann and Maya before returning to Honolulu in August before his ninth-grade year. Punahou spoke of its four high school years as “the Academy,” and many new students entered for ninth grade, bringing each annual class to 400 to 425 students, or twenty homerooms of twenty students apiece. Barry’s new homeroom teacher was Eric Kusunoki, a 1967 Punahou graduate who remembered calling the official roll the very first day and having Obama respond, “Just call me Barry.” The biggest change from prior grades was the Academy’s unusual six-day variable modular schedule that principal Win Healy had instituted four years earlier: days were A-B-C-D-E-F, not Monday through Friday. That arrangement left students with considerable free time between classes on some days, and Barry usually devoted as much of that time as possible to pickup basketball. “He always had a basketball in his hands and was always looking for a pickup game,” classmate Larry Tavares remembered. Barry later recalled having his worst grade ever—a D in French—that year, and his other classes ranged from speech to boys’ chorus to one on Europe. Classmate Whitey Kahoohanohano recounts that “Barry was happy-go-lucky. A prankster. A tease. He liked to have fun. I remember him giggling a lot. He was real pleasant” and “smart.” Another, Sharon Yanagi, indicates that Barry’s basic persona had not changed at all from previous years: “he was always smiling.” During his ninth-grade year, Barry began a serious friendship with two older African American students, senior Tony Peterson and junior Rik Smith. Tony was only in his second year at Punahou, but as one younger student stressed, “people looked up to Tony. He was a real smart guy.” One day a week, Tony, Rik, and Barry would meet up on the steps of Cooke Hall, right outside the attendance office. Tony later said that much of their interaction involved “standing around trying to impress each other with how smart we are.” Although biracial, Rik already firmly identified as black and felt that racism most definitely existed in Hawaii. “Punahou was an amazing school,” he said years later, “but it could be a lonely place.” In his mind, “those of us who were black did feel isolated.” Tony did not entirely share Rik’s attitude. “For black people, there was not a lot of discrimination against us.” The three of them “talked about race but not, I thought, out of a deep sense of pain,” he explained. One spring morning, to help with an English assignment, Tony recorded some of the trio’s conversation. Rik asked “What is time?” and fourteen-year-old Barry responded that “time is just a collection of human experiences combined so that they make a long, flowing stream of thought.” At the end of that school year, Barry wrote in Tony’s 1976 Oahuan yearbook: “Tony, man, I am sure glad I got to know you before you left. All those Ethnic Corner trips to the snack bar and playing ball made the year a lot more enjoyable, even though the snack bar trips cost me a fortune.” Playing off of some prior conversation, Barry also told Tony to “get that law degree. Some day when I am a pro basketballer, and I want to sue my team for more money, I’ll call on you.” Ann had intended for Barry to once again come to Indonesia for the summer. She and Maya had been living with Lolo’s mother in Jogyakarta rather than the capital so she could pursue her doctoral research. “What an enjoyable city it is, especially as compared with Jakarta!” she wrote her University of Hawaii dissertation adviser, Alice Dewey. But in May, she had changed their plans, and in mid-June she and Maya flew to Honolulu, staying at Dewey’s home while Barry continued to live with his grandparents. Stanley was still working at the insurance agency, but his two best friends there, Alec Williamson and Rolf Nordahl, could tell how unfulfilling and oftentimes unpleasant he found the work. “During the day, there wasn’t a whole lot of business” with potential customers not at home, Nordahl recalled, and he and Stan would chat and often at lunchtime go make sandwiches at the Dunhams’ apartment. More than once, Rolf heard Stan mention the Spencer Tracy–Katharine Hepburn film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Released in December 1967, it starred the black Bahamian American actor Sidney Poitier as Dr. John Wade Prentice of Hawaii, whose white fiancée brings him home to meet her parents. “Well, I lived it,” Stan would explain. On evenings when the two men were finished with customer calls, they often went to Bob’s Soul Food Place or the Family Inn bar on Honolulu’s Smith Street, in the city’s well-known red-light district. “Stanley did not have a great deal of success” selling life insurance, mainly because of his “call reluctance,” Nordahl explained. “There’s nothing worse than calling somebody and wanting to talk to them about life insurance … it’s the last thing anybody wants to talk about.” But Stanley was committed to sticking with the job and wanted to “come up to snuff with Madelyn … I know that bothered him.” To Nordahl, “he spoke very fondly of her” and gave no sign that his job difficulties altered his personality. “He always had a joke” and seemed like “a very, very happy man—always a big smile. I wouldn’t say that I saw any unhappiness at all.” Stanley also “wanted to learn more about black people,” Rolf knew, and that influenced his and his grandson’s ongoing visits with Frank Marshall Davis. Barry later described Frank’s “big dewlapped face and an ill-kempt gray Afro that made him look like an old, shaggy-maned lion. He would read us his poetry whenever we stopped by his house, sharing whiskey with Gramps out of an emptied jelly jar.” Stan’s close relationship with Frank also generated his own interest in writing poetry, something he regularly talked about with Alec Williamson. “He loved science fiction,” Williamson recalled, and “we talked a lot of politics.” Stan “did not like Nixon,” would “argue the liberal side,” and often brought his grandson by the office during his late middle school years. Barry “was a good kid … well-educated … I liked him.” Stan was indeed “something of a poet,” and more than thirty-five years later Williamson still had copies of, and indeed could recite, two deeply poignant ones: Life Oh, where have they gone Those days of our youth With those wonderful dreams Of worlds to be won When life was a search For the ultimate truth Full of adventure And, Oh, so much fun Win all our battles We just couldn’t fail For then right was right It just had to prevail Then came life’s middle years Impending old age with all of its fears The many missed chances The oft shed tears Till hope at last dwindles And disappears Then comes rebirth For ’tis Nature’s way The circle’s full round Life’s dawned a new day Erase life’s slate clean But sell not your shares For hope still survives In our children, and in theirs And if not, SO WHAT! —STANLEY A. DUNHAM The second, brief, untitled one spoke to home: Man can span the oceans of space Split the atom. Win the race But all is for naught when against his wishes He has to help with the dinner dishes. —STANLEY A. DUNHAM Williamson and Nordahl agreed that “Stan was a great guy,” and “we had a lot of good times together.” Pal Eldredge at Punahou had exactly the same impression. Both Stan and Madelyn came to “most of the activities” and “any kind of performances we had.” Stan “was a fun guy” and “they were always here with” Barry, Eldredge remembered. “It was always good to be around him because he was always joking with people.” Ann’s mentor Alice Dewey felt similarly: Stanley was a “very charming and fun person, and very affectionate.” Madelyn, particularly at work, was far less outgoing and seemingly far less happy, though her professional success far eclipsed her husband’s. One young management trainee from the 1970s, who later became Bank of Hawaii’s vice chairman, bluntly acknowledged, “I was afraid of her. She definitely intimidated me. If you were new and still learning, she was like a drill sergeant.” Another young man remembered similarly: “We were afraid of her because she was so gruff.” Two women had comparable experiences. To Naomi Komenaka, Madelyn was “demanding, sharp and feisty”; to Myrtle Choan, one of Madelyn’s direct deputies, “she was a tough lady. Tough, tough lady … I was so afraid of her. I called her Mrs. Dunham, never by her first name.” At home, though, Madelyn was as devoted to Barry as Stan was; Barry called her “Tut,” with a long “oo” sound, after a common Hawaiian term for grandmother, tutu. Her brother Charles recalled her telling him well before Barry’s high school years that he was a genius; on one of the few occasions she ever spoke publicly about her grandson, she remembered him as “just a basketball-happy little boy…. I think his ambition when he was young was to be a pro basketball player, but he didn’t grow tall enough.” In their modest apartment, Barry’s tiny bedroom was hardly six feet by eight feet, according to Stan’s brother Ralph, who visited them in Hawaii at that time. “It was about the size of a jail cell.” Stan took Ralph along to his regular chess and checkers club, and also took him to meet Frank Marshall Davis. Along with Stan and young Barry, “we had a terrific time,” Ralph recounted years later. Even close family members did not understand why Stan and Madelyn remained in the small apartment at 1617 South Beretania. Madelyn’s brother Charles believed Stan thought it was perfectly fine, but that his sister did not like it. It was a “pretty depressing” building and “not where a bank vice president would live.” For Barry’s tenth-grade year, Literature & Writing used the traditional Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition. A full year of science was required, as was at least one semester of a course on Asia. Tony Peterson had graduated, and seemingly taking his place for Barry was Keith Kakugawa, now a senior, with whom Obama had been acquainted since Keith first arrived at Punahou three years earlier. With a half-Japanese, half–native Hawaiian father who worked as an exterminator, and a half-black and half–Native American mother, Kakugawa personified the islands’ rich mix of ethnicities. Bright, an excellent athlete, particularly in track, and blessed with an excellent memory, Kakugawa lived well west of Honolulu in working-class Pearl City, just north of the famous Pearl Harbor navy base. Obama later wrote that Keith possessed “a warmth and brash humor” that led to “an easy friendship,” but around Punahou, opinions on Kakugawa varied widely. Tony Peterson thought “his social skills weren’t the best,” and Pal Eldredge felt “he had a chip on his shoulder.” Keith’s longtime friend David Craven later commented that “Barry was the nice guy he hung around with,” but Keith’s best friend at Punahou, Marc Haine, remembered him as “a popular athlete, a popular figure.” To Kakugawa, fifteen-year-old Barry was “very, very quiet” and “very, very shy … I wouldn’t say introverted, but he was just a very shy, cautious kid.” Keith took a great liking to Stan Dunham. “Gramps was so great to all of us,” he recounted years later. “He was everyone’s grandfather.” Tenth grade was also the first time Barry played on an actual basketball team. Punahou’s junior varsity one was coached by 1961 Punahou graduate Norbie Mendez and played five preseason and fourteen regular season games between December 1976 and February 1977. Barry’s friends Mark Bendix, Greg Orme, Tom Topolinski, Joe Hansen, and Mark Heflin were also on the team. Obama never cracked the starting lineup, but he ended up as the third leading scorer as the team won nine of its fourteen official games. Yearbook photos that year show Barry with a bushy Afro and sometimes more than a little extra weight. A classroom picture captures a decidedly chubby Obama, whereas the ones for JV basketball and concert choir, perhaps taken later, show a visibly more mature fifteen-year-old. Sometime midyear Barry also spent significant time reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Keith Kakugawa remembers Obama pointing out the book in Punahou’s library, and Mark Hebing recalls Barry recommending it to him. Barry would later acknowledge absorbing the book that year, saying that Malcolm’s “repeated acts of self-creation spoke to me … forged through sheer force of will.” One Saturday evening sometime in the late spring of 1977, Kakugawa, Mike Ramos, a junior athlete on Punahou’s varsity basketball team, Obama, and fellow sophomore Greg Orme headed to a party at Schofield Barracks, a large U.S. Army base almost twenty-five miles northwest of Punahou. Most of Oahu’s African Americans were from military families, and the people at this party were predominantly black men and women several years older than the teenage Punahou quartet. Barry didn’t yet drink, but the group stopped to buy a case of Heineken on the way. Once there, the Punahou youngsters were not welcomed with open arms by everyone present. “The place was packed” and “it was dark,” Ramos remembered. He was more than a year older than Obama, and he was from a Filipino family of modest means; he had first met Barry a year earlier at a party where they discovered they were both fans of jazz saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. Orme was white, and he had known Obama since their seventh-grade year. Barry had passed along his interest in jazz to several friends that year. But at the Schofield party “everyone else, except the four of us, was dressed for a night at Studio 54, and we were dressed for a luau at the beach,” Kakugawa later said. Especially if they were haoles, Punahou students were looked upon “as the snobs, the rich kids” in many circles on Oahu. “Everyone on the island treated you differently once they knew you were from Punahou,” Keith said. Ramos remembers that Kakugawa, who was known to some of the people at the party, took offense whenever a verbal putdown of Punahou was uttered, and Ramos also remembered Keith “doing a bunch of trash talking” that night in response. Kakugawa admitted “we got in an argument because we were from Punahou,” and the four of them were headed for the door in less than an hour. Ramos was confused. “I was having a pretty good time”—“Why are we leaving?” For Orme, it was the first time he had been one of the few white people in a mostly black setting, and during the car ride back, he mentioned that to Barry. “One of us said that being the different guys in the room had awakened a little bit of empathy to what he must feel all the time at school,” Orme later recalled. Ramos agreed. “For the haole guys in our group, it was a kind of eye-opening experience for them.” But for whatever reason, Obama was upset by Orme’s comment—“he clearly didn’t appreciate that,” Greg remembered. Kakugawa thought Barry was bothered that one or more girls at the party had refused to dance with him, but Barry had been the youngest person there. Years later, he would describe the evening as a racial coming-of-age moment for him, but Ramos and especially Orme, who would become Obama’s closest friend during their two remaining years at Punahou, never heard or saw anything of the sort. Barry “would bring up worldly topics far beyond his years. But we never talked race.” In late April or early May 1977, not long after the party, Ann and Maya returned to Indonesia so that Ann could resume her dissertation fieldwork. Keith Kakugawa starkly remembers the day they departed. Ann told her son she was headed “home,” and “Barry was disgusted” after Ann and Maya were dropped off at the airport. “You know what, man? I’m really tired of this,’ ” Obama complained. Kakugawa told his friend that Ann was just doing her job, but Barry almost spat out his response: “Well, then, let her stay there and do it.” Keith’s buddy Jack McAdoo said he remembers that day too and recalls that “there was a lot of pain there” for Obama. Kakugawa knew that Barry “was going through a tough time” that spring and was experiencing a lot of “inner turmoil,” but “it wasn’t a race thing … Barry’s biggest struggles then were missing his parents. His biggest struggles were his feelings of abandonment. The idea that his biggest struggle was race is bullshit.” The crux of what his friend was wrestling with was “the hurt he felt about being abandoned by his mother” on top of his long-absent father. In later years, Obama would almost always suppress his past feelings about his by-then-deceased mother, but occasionally a highly revealing comment could slip out. “When I was a kid, I don’t remember having, I think, one birthday party the whole time I was growing up,” and he admitted, “I spent a childhood adrift.” But most of Barry’s classmates that spring were not aware of what Orme, Ramos, and especially Kakugawa could sense. “I was probably the only one who didn’t always see him smiling,” Keith recounted. To Kelli Furushima, an attractive Asian classmate whom Obama sought out at the once-per-class-cycle chapel sessions, Barry seemed “a happy guy, comfortable in his skin.” She enjoyed his “casually flirting” with her; “he was very friendly, very warm and had a great sense of humor.” When the school year was ending and everyone was signing each other’s 1977 yearbooks, Obama’s note on Kelli’s copy likewise reflected no angst: “Our relationship is still young so I am looking forward to picking it up where it left off next year. Your [sic] a small but dynamic person. Have a beautiful summer and see you next year. Love, Barry.” Obama would not turn sixteen years old until August 4, 1977, so getting a summer job was a challenge, though years later he would say he had worked bagging groceries. But that birthday brought with it a driver’s license, and he began driving Stan’s reddish-brown Ford Granada, a car he would look back on with no fondness. One day that summer Keith Kakugawa and Marc Haine took Barry out paddling—Hawaiian for canoeing—and after they were back on dry land, beer was at hand. “I distinctly remember cajoling Barry into getting drunk with us.” He said, “I don’t drink,” but Keith corrected him: “You’re gonna drink.” Kakugawa boasted, “I was the one responsible for making Barry take his first drink, but Marc Haine was the one that handed it to him.” When Barry’s junior year began, a full-year course in American history was mandatory. Barry had the regular class, not the advanced placement version, taught by his classmate Kent Torrey’s father Bob, who knew Barry pretty well but remembers him as “a totally average” student. Another full year of English was required, but in addition to American Literature, the students chose from Punahou’s almost collegelike breadth of electives. With the standardized college-entry SAT exam scheduled for November, the fall kicked off with eight weeks or so of Saturday-morning preparation classes; instructor Bill Messer recalled Obama as “affable and pleasant” but “oddly quiet in class.” Barry later claimed that “art history was one of my favorite subjects in high school,” but he also took drama. He and four classmates produced a short film they titled The Narc Squad, a parody of The Mod Squad. Linne Nickelsen, who had “long, straight blond hair and a closet full of miniskirts,” played the Peggy Lipton character, and Barry imitated the African American actor Clarence Williams III. Plenty of surfing footage was included, and Barry added a dashiki to his bushy Afro. Nickelsen later took credit for luring “Barry out of his dashiki for the pool party scene…. I must admit to being disappointed at not having received even passing credit for instigating that disrobing.” No screenings of the film have been reported for decades. Basketball season began in December. Barry and his closest buddies had been playing ball whenever and wherever possible, including evenings and weekends, sometimes going up against adult men and occasionally heading up to UH’s Manoa campus to play there. Outside of basketball season, Punahou’s mandatory after-school phys ed class was another venue for practicing “hack league” skills. Classmates and teachers all unanimously agreed that basketball was Barry’s real passion during all of his high school years, but that December Obama was relegated to the number-two, A-level varsity squad rather than making the cut for the top AA team. Greg Orme and Mark Bendix were also on the A team, but second-class status meant their practices were held every morning from 6:30 A.M. to 8:00 a.m. Once games got under way, the A ballers stumbled to an unmemorable record of seven wins and ten losses. A story in the student newspaper Ka Punahou asserted that the players were “having a good time” nonetheless. Coach Jim Iams insisted the season was “successful,” but decades later, Iams had no recollection of Obama being on his team. By the fall of his junior year, Barry was a more memorable member of another Punahou assemblage, known as the Choom Gang. It’s not clear when Obama first started to smoke cigarettes, but his friend Mark Hebing can picture Barry coming out of his grandparents’ apartment building on their way to go bodysurfing at Sandy Beach, east of Honolulu, carrying only a towel and a carton of cigarettes. Stan Dunham smoked three packs a day—“always Philip Morris,” his brother Ralph recalled—and Madelyn smoked even more. But the Choom Gang didn’t choom tobacco, they choomed pakalolo, the Hawaiian word for marijuana. Barry’s friend Mark Bendix was seen as “the ringleader” of the group. Tom “Topo” Topolinski, who was half-Polish, half-Chinese, explained that “everything centered around him. He always had the idea first, or he had a stronger opinion, or he wanted to do something rowdier. That was Bendix.” The other core members—Russ Cunningham, Joe Hansen, Kenji Salz, Mark “Hebs” Hebing, Greg Orme, Mike Ramos, and eventually Wayne Weightman and Rob Rask—enjoyed drinking beer, playing basketball, bodysurfing when the waves were up, and getting high whenever they had enough money. When they did, Bendix, Topo, and/or Barry would head over to Puck’s Alley on the east side of University Avenue where Ray Boyer, their go-to drug dealer, worked at Mama Mia’s pizzeria. Boyer was haole, but just as visibly, he was gay. “Let’s just say if he was closeted, he wasn’t fooling anybody,” Hebs said later. The Choom Gang called him “Gay Ray.” He was twenty-nine years old, and he lived in an abandoned bus inside a deserted warehouse in Kakaako, a then-desolate neighborhood west of Waikiki. Topo remembered that the scene there “was very scary…. No one in their right mind would live there.” Ray also had another main interest: porn. “I think he was looking to convert some people,” Topo said years later. “He would bring them back to his bus and stone ’em, with porn movies on—they were heterosexual porn movies, but it was still really creepy.” But Ray always had good-quality pakalolo on hand, so the connection was important. “Ray freaked me out. I was afraid of the guy,” Topolinski said. “But he did befriend us, and he was our connection … there were times where he would take us to a drive-in movie…. He partied with us, but there was something about him that never made me feel comfortable.” “We were potheads. We loved our beer,” Topo said, but the Choom Gang was not entirely about getting drunk or high. “We loved basketball so much that we couldn’t get enough of it,” and that was especially true of Barry. “For us, it was just all fun and games and basketball and hanging out, listening to music and going to the beach,” Topo emphasized. Bendix’s mother taught at Punahou, and they would quietly borrow her car on days when they had a break in their Academy schedules or when they simply decided to cut class. “We could have been easily terminated for what we did,” Topo said. “We did it all the time” since the lure of the beach oftentimes was too great. For most Choom Gangers, parental supervision was lax at best; when Topo’s parents discovered sand in his shorts one weekday and angrily confronted him about how their tuition payments were being wasted, his lesson was obvious: “I just learned to rinse my shorts out better.” Even for Topo, who had two parents at home, “the Choom Gang became more of a family to me than my own family.” For Barry, whose grandmother left for the bank each weekday morning at 6:30 and whose grandfather often was trying to sell life insurance in the evenings, his buddies and especially their devotion to basketball became the centerpiece of his daily life. His friend Bobby Titcomb, a year younger and not a Choom Ganger but whom one upperclassman called “a bit of a badass,” has vivid memories of “Obama dribbling his ball, running down the sidewalk on Punahou Street to his apartment, passing the ball between his legs…. He was into it.” Topo saw the exact same thing, with Barry “dribbling his basketball to class every day. He was married to that thing.” Mike Ramos’s younger brother Greg, who was a year behind Barry, and Greg’s best friend Keith Peterson shared the gang’s love of basketball and thought Obama was a visibly much happier teenager than most of his friends, including Mike, Greg Orme, Mark Bendix, and Joe Hansen. Keith was Tony Peterson’s younger brother, and by 1977–78 Keith and Barry were the only two black males in the Academy’s sixteen-hundred-plus student body. To Keith, Mike Ramos was “brooding, unpleasant … just mean.” From both Mike and Orme, Greg Ramos and Keith “got the full big brother to little brother treatment.” Orme was usually just “a jerk. Greg would challenge us to basketball games just for the pleasure of beating us to death.” Barry and Mike “were very close,” but Obama took part in none of the taunting the younger boys suffered from the older ones. Instead Barry manifested “a level of kindness and genuine caring” which “was pretty unusual, in particular with that group.” Hebs’s entire family felt the same way about how Obama treated Hebs’s younger brother Brad. Both Keith and Greg Ramos also felt that Topo and Bobby Titcomb were each “a great guy,” but they thought Obama “was always a happy guy.” Indeed, as Keith Peterson puts it, Barry “stands out in my mind as being the happiest of that group.” The Choom Gang had several regular off-campus hangouts—no one dared to choom at school. Each year’s catalog emphasized that Punahou “will not condone” drugs or alcohol and expressly prohibited even tobacco smoking “on or in the vicinity of” campus. Everyone understood that they would get expelled from school if they were caught. “We always gravitated to areas that were secluded,” Topo explained, and one of their favorite spots was a glade named the Makiki Pumping Station, near the Round Top Drive loop road that circles Mount Tantalus, just a bit northwest of Punahou. “It was a very tucked away, beautiful place,” Topo recalled. “It was kind of like our safe haven.” One evening the group headed up there in Mark Bendix’s Volkswagen van and Russ Cunningham’s Toyota. “We pulled over at the beginning of the hill and we puffed away,” Topo remembered. Then Mark and Russ decided their two vehicles should race. Barry and Kenji Salz were with Cunningham, Topo and Joe Hansen with Bendix. “ ‘On your mark, get set, go,’ so we took off, and we pulled ahead, and we made a turn, and then nothing happened. We’re up there, and we parked, rolled another fatty, and another one,” Topolinski said. “We’re not that much faster than them. Where the hell did they go?” So “we stayed up there for about twenty minutes and then we decided to go back down just to see what’s going on, and we’re about halfway down, and we see Barry running up the road, halfway in hysterics. ‘What the hell’s going on? Barry, where is everybody?’ ” Obama’s answer was startling: “ ‘Kooks rolled the car.’ ‘What do you mean he rolled the car?’ ‘It’s upside down in the middle of the road.’ ‘What?’ And he’s laughing. ‘Okay, well we need to go down there.’ So Barry got in the van, and we drove to the accident site and sure enough his little Toyota was on its roof in the middle of the road.” Cunningham had a bloody nose, but Kenji, like Barry, was fine. “We didn’t want to get in any more trouble so the rest of us left Russell there by himself,” Topo recalled, “and we piled in the van to go buy more beer.” After downing some, they decided, “Let’s go back up and see what’s up.” At the accident scene, “there’s fire trucks, flares,” even an ambulance. “We wanted no part of that,” so Bendix made a quick U-turn, and the Choom Gang headed for home. Given the Choom Gang’s intake of both beer and pakololo, it was fortunate that nothing worse than a bloody nose and a totaled Toyota resulted from their many outings. In the middle of the 1977–78 school year, Ann Dunham and Maya returned to Honolulu, once again living at Alice Dewey’s home, so that Ann could take her doctoral candidacy exams in May. Lolo had been stricken with a serious liver disease, and Ann had taken the lead in forcing Union Oil to send him to Los Angeles for treatment before he then joined Ann and Maya at Dewey’s home to recuperate. It is unclear how much Ann saw of her son those months while he continued to live in his grandparents’ tiny apartment. Alice Dewey remembers Barry coming by one Sunday to take his mother, sister, and stepfather out for lunch. In late May, the three of them left to return to Indonesia, but no one recalls any intense bitterness like what Keith Kakugawa had witnessed when Ann left a year earlier. As school ended, Barry wrote another flirtatious message in Kelli Furushima’s 1978 yearbook. Tom Topolinski wistfully recalled that Kelli was so popular “there was a line for her” and that Barry “wasn’t very forward” with girls. But to Kelli there had been no change in Barry’s demeanor. “He was very funny. He was really warm, friendly,” she recalled. “He just seemed happy all the time, smiling all the time.” Over the summer, Barry worked at a newly opened Baskin-Robbins at 1618 South King Street, less than two blocks from his grandparents’ apartment. Owners Clyde and Teri Higa remember him clearly as “a very good-natured young man, quick with a smile.” He worked alongside Punahou classmate Kent Torrey, whose dad had just taught Obama’s junior-year U.S. history course; rising junior Annette Yee worked there as well. Clyde Higa said Barry was “the tallest employee we ever had” and thus “seemed to have great difficulty bending over and reaching into the ice cream cabinets to scoop the ice cream.” Obama also remembered it was “tough work” behind the counter, and he did not like the mandatory uniform and the accompanying paper cap. He did have an easier time than tiny Annette Yee, who never forgot falling “head first into the near tub” and how Barry “hauled me out.” Teri Higa remembered seeing Barry “gazing out the front store window at times” as if “wishing he was at the beach instead of working.” One customer who recognized Barry behind the counter was Frank Marshall Davis’s dear friend Dawna Weatherly-Williams. “He was a wonderful kid” and even behind the counter, he always “had this beautiful grin on his face.” By the beginning of Barry’s senior year, Punahou’s tuition and fees stood at $2,050. For a senior, one semester of economics was required; Barry and Mark “Hebs” Hebing both had it with instructor Stuart Gross. But Barry also enrolled in Punahou’s most demanding senior year elective, Law and Society, which was taught by Honolulu attorney Ian Mattoch at 7:15 A.M., three mornings a week. Punahou’s catalog said the course would “enable students to conceptualize the legal framework of his society, to analyze the terms of the social contract between the individual and the society. Emphasis on the study of the various rights afforded the individual in the Bill of Rights and Constitution and consideration of the bases and characteristics of the executive, judicial, and legislative processes.” Mattoch, a member of Punahou’s class of 1961, had graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles in 1965 and Northwestern University’s law school in 1968. He had begun offering the course in 1970, and as its syllabus readily revealed, the content was “about a sophomore in college level because Punahou students are eminently capable of doing work at that level,” Mattoch explained years later. A 1976 article in Punahou’s student newspaper had noted that there were also “optional ‘law labs’ held on Saturday mornings at Mr. Mattoch’s law office” in addition to field trips to courtroom trials. Mattoch said his goal was for students “to understand that law is a product of men and institutions.” Punahou alumni who went on to successful careers in the law testified that Mattoch’s class had been directly helpful to them during law school. Mattoch began by asking “What is law?” with readings ranging from Roscoe Pound to Sigmund Freud. Then he moved to “the organizational basis of the legal system,” with students expected to master the first hundred-plus pages of a text by a well-known University of Wisconsin law professor. A midterm exam might have as many as seven questions; optional “extra reading reports” on books such as Benjamin Cardozo’s The Nature of the Judicial Process could earn students additional credit. “How a bill becomes a law” and “basic techniques of legal research” were followed by a study of notable Supreme Court constitutional decisions ranging from Griswold v. Connecticut’s 1965 recognition of a right to privacy to criminal procedure rulings. Students then submitted reports comparing the Warren Court of the 1960s to the Burger Court of the 1970s. The final exam lasted ninety minutes and featured more than two dozen questions. Mattoch remembered Obama as “relatively shy and nonassertive” in class, but he showed up early each morning and did first-rate work. His Punahou transcript indicates an A- in Law and Society, perhaps the single best grade he earned during his high school years. Barry also took a creative writing class that included poetry that fall of his senior year, and in mid-December, the student newspaper published a poem he had written entitled “The Old Man”: I saw an old, forgotten man On an old, forgotten road Staggering and numb under the glare of the Spotlight. His eyes, so dull and grey, Slide from right, to left, to right Looking for his life, misplaced in a Shallow, muddy gutter long ago I am found instead. Seeking a hiding place, the night seals us together. A transient spark lights his face, and in my honor, He pulls out forgotten dignity from under his flaking coat, And walks a straight line along the crooked world. While it is hard to imagine seventeen-year-old Barry being inspired to take up poetry by the example of grandfather Stan, his regular visits to see Frank Marshall Davis, a well-published poet of considerable repute, and by 1978 a man of seventy-two, are a more plausible inspiration, even if Davis’s personal history would prevent his role from ever being fully acknowledged. In December 1978, Barry finally played his way onto the twelve-man roster of Punahou’s top AA varsity basketball team. The coach was thirty-two-year-old Chris McLachlin, a 1964 Punahou graduate with a master’s degree from Stanford who was a devout student of the highly structured style of play that had been successfully pioneered by UNC Chapel Hill’s Dean Smith and especially UCLA’s John Wooden, with whom McLachlin had personally conferred several years earlier. McLachlin’s 1975 team had won the Hawaii state championship in his first year as head coach, and Punahou’s student newspaper commended the “high quality, hustle-oriented basketball which has become a McLachlin and Punahou trademark.” The 1979 team featured seven returning seniors, including starting guards Larry Tavares and Darryl Gabriel and forward Boy Eldredge (Pal’s nephew), plus star junior forward John Kamana and six-foot-five-inch sophomore Dan Hale at center. Tom Topolinski was often the first man off the bench. The four new members also included Barry’s best friend Greg Orme and junior guard Alan Lum. Mike Ramos had left for college on the mainland, but his younger brother Greg was an AA team manager. Mike’s departure led to both Greg and his best friend Keith Peterson spending more time with Barry, and Greg immediately saw that just because Barry was taking a class like Ian Mattoch’s, it did not mean the Choom Gang had gone on hiatus or lost its connection to Gay Ray. “When Mike went to college, the first thing Barack did was take me up to the mountains to try to get me stoned, because Mike protected me,” Greg confessed years later. But from December through mid-March, basketball dominated their lives on a daily basis. A Punahou student newspaper profile of “Coach Mac” said that McLachlin possessed a “great ability to get along with students” and quoted him as explaining that “my obligation is not only to teach the skills and strategy, but also to build character and to develop a sense of team and individual pride.” Practices were six days a week, two hours each time, but, unlike the A team’s, they took place in the late afternoon rather than at dawn. Games ran just thirty-two minutes: four eight-minute quarters. The veteran players understood and respected McLachlin. He was “a very tough coach who knew a lot about the game and made sure that we knew about it as well,” Topo explained. McLachlin told the student newspaper: “I’d like to think of myself as a teacher first and a coach second. A ball team is like class after school. I try to teach things like punctuality, industriousness and honesty,” as well as relaxation techniques, “since relaxation is very important in situations when the pressure’s on, like at the free throw line.” As Topo put it, Punahou’s 1979 team was “just loaded with talent,” and while McLachlin acknowledged that Punahou’s reserves “could have started for any other team in the state,” he also “did not have an everybody plays approach,” Dan Hale remembered. Like so many others, McLachlin had seen Barry dribbling his basketball and shooting baskets whenever possible, and he respected Obama’s “real love and passion for the game.” Ironically, though, Obama’s many hours of pickup game experience on local courts worked against him with McLachlin. As Alan Lum described it, Barry was “a very creative player,” but “his game didn’t really fit our system…. We ran a structured offense. We were very disciplined.” Obama would later assert, “I had an overtly black game,” but that misstated the core of basketball’s deep appeal to him, which he expressed far better when he compared his favorite sport to his favorite music, jazz. “There’s an aspect of improvisation within a discipline that I find very, very powerful.” Team play got under way with an invitational tournament victory on Maui followed by five straight regular-season wins on Oahu before a one-point loss to University High School. Two victories preceded a defeat by rival Iolani School, then two more wins were followed by a second one-point loss to University High. Throughout that schedule of games, Barry Obama got little playing time; some days only seven of McLachlin’s twelve players saw game action. At one point during those weeks, Obama, along with Alan Lum and Darin Maurer, made an appointment with McLachlin to request that they receive more playing time. McLachlin remembers the meeting as “nonconfrontational and respectful.” Barry “basically represented the group” and “spoke for them…. It was ‘Coach, what can we do to garner more playing time?’ ” Years later, though, Obama recounted a far angrier scene. “I got into a fight with the guy, and he benched me for three or four games. Just wouldn’t play me. And I was furious.” Lum had been surprised at how direct Barry was with Coach Mac, and McLachlin acknowledged that Barry was clearly “disgruntled.” But Obama was convinced the coach was treating him unfairly. “The truth was, on the playground, I could beat a lot of the guys who were starters,” he later claimed. To team manager Greg Ramos, that was just a “total rationalization…. My perception at the time was that people were where they should have been, and Barack always thought he should have played more than he did.” Even with that tension, Barry’s teammates all remember his usual sunny self. “Very happy, very outgoing,” “a very, very pleasant person to be around,” and “always” with “that smile on his face.” Punahou was in second place in the AA standings prior to an early March league playoff in which the team defeated University High by one point in overtime before a crowd of more than twenty-two hundred. The student newspaper reported that Obama “gave the team a lift as a second half sub, scoring six points on offense and hustling on defense,” but the box score in the Honolulu Advertiser had Barry missing three free throws. That win gave Punahou top seed in the upcoming three-round Hawaii state tournament. A blowout 77–29 win in their first game included three points by Obama; he played briefly in the second and did not score, but the game still ended in victory for Punahou. The ultimate championship game, against Moanalua on Saturday evening, March 10, 1979, was preceded by a midday team meal at Dan Hale’s home. McLachlin’s wife Beth made “super burgers” that supposedly aided players’ ability to jump. At Blaisdell Arena in downtown Honolulu, an astonishing crowd of more than sixty-four hundred awaited the contest. “The players majestically strode into the arena as their little admirers flocked around them as if they were blue-clad gods,” Punahou’s student newspaper claimed in its next issue. “They willingly signed autographs and received handshakes from parents and well-wishers,” including of course Stan Dunham. Punahou jumped out to an early lead of 18–4, then ran the score to 32–7. As Alan Lum remembered, “the game was over in the first half” and Coach Mac began substituting liberally. Barry Obama sank one field goal, missed his sole free throw, and finished with two points, but was ecstatic at the 60–28 victory. “These are the best bunch of guys. We made so many sacrifices to get here,” he told Punahou’s student reporter. McLachlin was equally happy, telling the Advertiser that “we played as near-perfect a game as ever,” including how “the subs came in and played as great a team defense as the regulars.” Within the world of Punahou, winning the state AA championship was just “huge,” as Topo remembered. On the bus ride back to the school, Coach Mac told his team that they had just played “as good a game as I’ve ever seen a high school basketball team play. You played a perfect game, and that included everyone who stepped on that court. This is the finest effort by twelve young men that I have ever seen.” To Barry Obama, the team’s championship was such an enormous achievement he wrote a tribute to their season for Punahou’s 1979 yearbook, a brief essay that somehow remained utterly undiscovered even a decade after dozens of journalists had traipsed their ways through all manner of various real and imagined details of Obama’s early life. Titled “Winner,” the piece is in no way remarkable, but it most certainly captures how central that team experience was for seventeen-year-old Barry: A lot of words are thrown around in basketball: unity, character, determination, and sportsmanship. Well, this is a team that lived up to these clichés, both on and off the court. When the season started, we all felt the electricity of something special; through sacrifice, trust, hard work, and a lot of help from coaches and managers, a group of diverse individuals joined together to truly become a team. At times we’ve had problems playing together, but we’ve never had any difficulty getting along; I have never seen a closer bunch of guys. Each player carried his weight and supported the others when they were down; if Gabe wasn’t hot, then John would do it; if Danny’s dunks didn’t beat you, E’s defense would. Some people think that it’s the win/loss record that is important; others think that it’s how you play the game that is important; no matter how you think of it, though, this team was a winner in every sense of the word. Obama’s memory of his role in the team’s season would grow rosy with age. “My senior year, when we won the state championship, there were a couple games where I think I was a difference maker.” He said his grandfather would recount how impressive a broadcaster had made Barry’s one successful jump shot in that final game sound, but he also acknowledged how those four months had taught him “a lot about discipline, about handling disappointment, being team oriented, and realizing not everything is about you.” The overall picture Obama would usually paint of his final year at Punahou bore no resemblance to that long-undiscovered essay in his senior yearbook or to the A- he earned in Ian Mattoch’s exceptionally demanding early-morning Law and Society class. “I’m playing basketball, I’m getting high, and I’m not taking my work seriously at all,” he recalled on one occasion. “We’d have basketball practice get over about six, maybe six-thirty, and we’d go get a six-pack … and go out to the park and just screw around…. Then you’d be waking up in the morning and you hadn’t done the reading.” In some tellings, Obama admitted to taking his schoolwork more seriously his senior year—“Man, I should try to go to college, so let me focus a bit more”—but then his senior year was the only one with afternoon basketball practice every day. In another version, he has his mother, ostensibly back in Honolulu early in his senior year, upbraiding him about his grades and his disinterest in applying to colleges, calling him a loafer and voicing her disappointment in him. Presented with that account, one interviewer responded that it made Barry sound like a hood, a hoodlum, to which Obama responded, “That’s basically it. In fact I think my mother referred to me as such at one point.” On another occasion, Obama went even further, claiming, “I think I was a thug for a big part of my growing up.” The notion that anyone at Punahou or among his friends and other acquaintances ever thought of Barry Obama as a “thug” or hoodlum could not be further from the way he is remembered. Scores of them did see him as “a pretty good jock,” as Obama also called himself; tiny Annette Yee from their summer at Baskin-Robbins thought of him as “a basketball jock”; their mutual friend and ice cream coworker Kent Torrey likewise recalled Barry as “one of the biggest jocks on campus.” But his intense love of basketball, as his yearbook tribute vividly captured, carried no negativity, and anyone who experienced teenage bullying from one or more of Barry’s closest friends without exception recalls Obama as never manifesting any bad attitudes. By the onset of Barry’s senior year, Greg Orme was unquestionably his closest friend. Many days after basketball practice, they did not “get a six-pack … and go out to the park and just screw around,” but instead walked down to 1617 South Beretania. “It was Tut and Gramps in this small apartment and us two six-footers,” Orme recalled. “We’d raid the refrigerator and then go to his room. He’d put on his earphones. He liked to listen to Stevie Wonder and jazz, like Grover Washington. So he’d have the earphones on and read his books.” Tom Topo came over “once or twice a month.” He remembered that visitors could barely “set foot in his room—he lived off the floor—everything was on the floor…. He always had a Stevie Wonder record on the phonograph,” like Songs in the Key of Life, and sometimes “like a week-old pizza under his bed … he was a messy person.” But the Choom Gang was no less active than the year before. Indeed, come January 1979, Punahou’s student newspaper, in a humorous survey of different student “species,” profiled one it called “Cravius Cannabis.” Recognizable from “their bloodshot eyes … Cannabi migrate in vans to ‘country,’ where they indulge in enlightening tribal rituals. They have developed specialized language to deal with their common interests: agriculture and commerce.” Years later, on the one occasion when anyone was able to ask Madelyn Dunham about Barry’s high school drug use, she admitted, “I had a few hints, and I think I talked to him a little about it. But it didn’t seem overwhelming or prolonged.” Obama would later make light of chooming, readily admitting, “I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes I smoked” all through those years. Once Obama seemingly copped to something more than just pakalolo during his Punahou years, referencing “maybe a little blow when you could afford it” while relating how a food service worker supposedly had offered Barry “smack” (heroin) as well. The Choomers’ relationship with Gay Ray went well beyond just “commerce,” and some of them spent significant social time with him, as Topo readily acknowledged. “The guy was a maniac on the road. He tailgated everybody. I was afraid for my life every time I rode with him.” Yet cocaine had zero presence among the Choom Gang, and multiple friends firmly say they never set eyes on it up through 1979. But at least one Choomer knew for sure that “Barry started to experiment with cocaine.” While Topo recalled that “the police were really, really, really relaxed” regarding pakololo, that was not the case with harder drugs, and in Obama’s own later telling, his mother asks him about his friend “Pablo,” who “was just arrested for drug possession” involving cocaine. By Barry’s senior year his second-closest friend, after Orme, was Bobby Titcomb, who was one year behind before leaving Punahou without graduating. Titcomb came from a distinguished local family. An ancestor had “married into Hawaiian royalty,” according to the Honolulu Advertiser, and his father was a longtime local judge who had won two Bronze Stars during World War II and lost a congressional race against future U.S. senator Daniel Inouye. Perhaps most notably, the elder Titcomb also frequently appeared on the locally filmed CBS television show Hawaii Five-0, which had begun airing nationally in 1968. Bobby Titcomb had first met Barry back in the fifth grade, and the two young men would hike Rocky Hill, just above Punahou’s campus, before extending their reach to Peacock Flats, on the west side of Oahu. Obama’s private, extremely close friendship with Bobby would remain a constant in his life for many years after 1978–79. In his most starkly dramatized account of his supposedly angry and antisocial high school years, Obama wrote about “the intimation of danger that would come upon me whenever I split another boy’s lip or raced down a highway with gin clouding my head.” Not one of Barry’s friends and acquaintances can recall any angry exchanges, never mind any busted lips, and no one remembers him having a taste for gin. In that same passage, Obama also recounted “the swagger that carried me into a classroom drunk or high, knowing that my teachers will smell beer or reefer on my breath, just daring them to say something.” Paula Miyashiro, Punahou’s 1979 class dean since their freshman year, never knew Barry to have any disciplinary issues and remembers “his infectious, genuine smile” and his “happy,” indeed “jovial,” demeanor. She met with him at least annually to discuss his upcoming year’s classes, and then more frequently as college applications approached. “I remember talking to him about the particular schools he was interested in.” But above all, Miyashiro—now Paula Kurashige—stresses that the one person who saw the most of Barry during high school at Punahou was his homeroom teacher, Eric Kusunoki: “for four years, he saw Barry every single day.” Even during his junior year’s early-morning basketball practices, or his fall senior year’s three-times-a-cycle early-bird Law and Society classes, Barry was in Kusunoki’s homeroom every morning. Kusunoki was no innocent. “To say there was a lot of drugs going on back then is a fair statement, maybe an understatement,” he frankly acknowledges. But “it wasn’t like guys were smoking dope on campus and coming to school high,” he added. “If they did, it would have been pretty obvious.” Barry without fail would greet “Mr. Kus” with “Good morning,” always “very positive, very pleasant,” and sporting a “big smile.” Barry was “very personable, very respectful,” a “bright presence in the classroom,” and “never got in trouble.” Classmates all continued to have an identical view. To senior-year homeroom colleague Bart Burford, “Barry was one of the more buoyant personalities on campus”; to longtime friend Kelli Furushima, Barry still “just seemed happy all the time. Smiling all the time.” Decades later, as scores of journalists plumbed the question of Obama’s racial consciousness during his high school years, no more than two would take the trouble to even telephone, never mind visit, the only other black male student in the Academy during both of Obama’s last two years, his friend Keith Peterson. And not a single one would even call the lone black female student, Kim Jones—like Keith, one year behind Barry—who was in the Academy those two years. Keith Peterson puts it simply. “There was no blackness at Punahou,” only three black students among more than sixteen hundred total there. Across the full range of Barry’s friends and acquaintances, Keith’s perception wins unanimous concurrence. To Bobby Titcomb, Obama “was just another color in the rainbow.” Mark Hebing explains, “We didn’t think about his blackness.” Mike Ramos’s younger sister Connie, who was in the class of ’79, recalls, “I never once thought of Barry as ‘black.’ ” Barry’s friend John Kolivas, who was half Korean and half Greek, says “we didn’t think of each other in terms of race.” To Keith Peterson, Barry’s “parental piece was a total and complete mystery,” and one Barry never spoke of. “I knew nothing about his father” and “I can’t say that I knew he had a mother at all.” Barry “lived with this older white couple” and “both of his parents so to speak were white.” Indeed “I thought that he was actually adopted by a white family,” that this “older couple had adopted him.” And, in reality, Keith’s impression was not at all wrong. As Madelyn’s younger brother Charles put it, Barack Obama “was raised in a white family.” Bobby Titcomb knew that Stan and Madelyn were Barry’s grandparents, but he understood that actually they were more than that. “You call them grandparents, but they were his parents growing up.” Yet no one speaks more powerfully, more movingly, about what it was like to be black at Punahou in the late 1970s than Kim Jones Nelson. “It is different being black growing up in Hawaii” than anywhere on the U.S. mainland, she explains. Even more significantly, “It’s an enormous privilege to be a black person in America and grow up in Hawaii. There is no other place in the entire U.S. that provides you with that experience where the color of your skin, the darker your skin is, is not a bad thing.” Just as Frank Marshall Davis had realized thirty years earlier, “the whole race dynamic is turned on its head in Hawaii,” for “in 1970s Honolulu,” as one veteran Asian American journalist would recount, “white people were routinely the target of discrimination,” not African Americans. Kim Jones had arrived at Punahou in 1976 for ninth grade, and it was “such a multicultural world” that “I never thought about” being the only black female among sixteen hundred students. Hawaii has “just a different worldview,” and “Punahou’s a reflection of the island culture, which is an extremely inclusive culture” of so many countless mixed ethnicities that “I would have had no idea what somebody was.” Across four years at Punahou, Kim had no experience of discrimination. “Not ever. Never, ever, ever. Certainly nothing associated with race.” What instead stood out was “the quality of the teaching” and the richness of the curriculum: the Novel and Film, art history, creative writing. “I loved Punahou.” She barely knew Barry. “He was part of that jock group,” and “I can’t recall any personal interactions with him.” On at least one occasion twenty years later, Obama acknowledged “the carefree childhood I experienced in Hawaii” and “how truly lucky I was to have been raised” there. He would give thanks as well for “the wonderful education I received at Punahou” and how “Punahou gave me a great foundation,” especially in terms of “values and ethics,” whose “long-term impact on the trajectory of my life” he would appreciate only a decade later. As a prominent African American, Chicago-based theologian who worshiped in the same church later emphasized, above all else, including color, complexion, and race, first and foremost Barack “Obama is Hawaiian.” Eight or ten weeks in advance of Punahou’s June 2, 1979, graduation ceremony, seniors had to submit whatever they wanted published on the one-quarter page they would each have in the 1979 Oahuan. Mark Bendix’s would contain sketches of his VW bus, the “choom van,” and the Koolaus mountain range above Pearl City, plus a “thanks for everything” to classmates whose initials readily translate into their full names: Barry Obama, Kenji Salz, Joe Hansen, Greg Orme, Russ Cunningham, Tom Topolinski, Wayne Weightman, Mark Hebing, and others. Russ Cunningham’s page featured a trio of small photos of Barry, Kenji, and Greg, and “Special Thanks to Friends, Family, Choom Gang.” Both Hebs’s and Topo’s were free of any such allusions, but Orme’s read, “Many thanks to all my friends. Especially the Choom Gang,” with initials for Bendix, Barry, Hansen—who had left school—Kenji, and Cunningham. Kenji’s featured a photo that included Barry and captioned “Ooooochoom Gangooooooo”; his acknowledgments included Bendix, Orme, Barry, Hansen, Cunningham, Hebs, and Weightman. Wayne’s featured the slogan “Fellow students: it’s time to choom!” and a reference to “Pumping station blues.” Barry Obama’s quarter-page was by far the most striking of all. Its upper-right corner featured a handsome photo of Barry in a jacket and wide-collared shirt that could have been borrowed from the 1977 dance film Saturday Night Fever. At upper left was a picture of a happy, smiling Obama on a basketball court, captioned “we go play hoop.” At the bottom was a photograph labeled “still life” that included a beer bottle, a record turntable, a telephone, and rolling papers. In the middle was Barry’s chosen message: “Thanks Tut, Gramps, Choom Gang, and Ray for all the good times.” Decades later, that sentence would receive far less public attention and discussion than it should have. Barry, alone of all the Choom Gang, had singled out their weird, gay, porn-showing drug dealer by name and thanked him “for all the good times.” As Tom Topo most frankly acknowledged, the Choom Gangers had spent plenty of time with Gay Ray over the previous two years, but a public—and permanent—thank-you to their drug connection was something that all the others, even Mark Bendix, did not go so far as to put into print. Although decades would pass before Obama would learn of his fate, on New Year’s Day 1986, a sleeping thirty-seven-year-old Ray Boyer was bludgeoned to death with a hammer by an angry twenty-year-old male prostitute in an apartment less than two blocks south of 1617 South Beretania Street. Several days in advance of the graduation ceremony, Ann Dunham returned to Honolulu from Indonesia for the first time in a year. In late 1978, she had completed her fieldwork for her dissertation but, low on funds, had taken a well-paying job with a USAID contractor, Development Alternatives Inc. Based in the Central Java city of Semarang, the job came with a house, servants, and a driver. She and Lolo were on the verge of formally divorcing, and, staying once again at Alice Dewey’s home, she soon would adopt Dewey’s suggestion that she keep Soetoro as her surname rather than revert to Dunham. But she also made a change from Lolo’s colonial Dutch spelling to the Indonesian “Sutoro.” Preparations for the Saturday-night commencement required extensive choral rehearsals on the part of the entire graduating class. Punahou’s senior prom took place the night before, Friday, June 1. Greg Orme and his steady girlfriend, red-headed Kelli McCormack, hosted Barry and his date, Megan Hughes, a student at La Pietra School for Girls near Diamond Head, for champagne at her family’s home before the two couples headed to the dance and then an after-party. Decades later Kelli would describe Barry and Greg as “like brothers” and described Barry as “very intelligent and witty.” Megan’s presence that evening was the first time Kelli had seen Barry with a date, but in Kelli’s memory, Megan was “gorgeous…. She had the face of an angel and the body of a goddess.” But Barry’s relationship with her was short-lived. In 1983 Megan would have a brief appearance in one episode of the television series Magnum, P.I., which was filmed on Oahu. A decade later Hughes would appear as Terence Stamp’s girlfriend in a movie called The Real McCoy, starring Kim Basinger. Two years later Megan had her own starring role in an R-rated “erotic adventure” film titled Smooth Operator, but her topless appearance failed to make the movie a popular or commercial success. Yet in 1979, with Orme already scheduled to be away from Hawaii that summer, Barry betrayed more than a hint of desire for his best friend’s girl in the message he wrote in Kelli’s yearbook. “It has been so nice getting to know you this year. You are extremely sweet and foxy. I don’t know why Greg would want to spend any time with me at all! You really deserve better than clowns like us; you even laugh at my jokes! I hope we can keep in touch this summer, even though Greg will be away.” Inscribing his grandparents’ phone number, Barry encouraged Kelli to “Call me up and I’ll buy you lunch … good luck in everything you do, and stay happy. Your friend, Love, Barry Obama.” McCormack soon broke up with Orme, and she did like Barry. “He and I really clicked. We had great vibes between us,” she recounted years later. But she never called him that summer. On Saturday evening, June 2, Punahou’s 412 graduating seniors, all dressed in matching blazers for the men and long dresses for the women, filed into Honolulu’s Blaisdell Arena, where three months earlier Barry’s AA basketball team had won their championship. A prayer opened the ceremony, followed by the entire class singing a school song. Three seniors—Byron Leong, Annabelle Okada, and class president Dennis Bader—had major speaking roles, interspersed among four more choral selections. Bader’s impressive remarks, in which he told his classmates to follow “your pilot light,” drew prolonged applause from the families and friends seated on the arena’s main floor. Class dean Paula Miyashiro welcomed the graduates, and Academy principal Win Healy invoked his personal tradition of choosing one adjective to describe each year’s class. Commending the 1979 graduates for making 1978–79 “the smoothest and best year of the 1970s” at Punahou, he said the best word to describe them was “harmonic.” President Rod McPhee commended Paula Miyashiro on her “great job” with the class, and then presented each of the graduates with their diploma. As the ceremony was ending, Barry ran into his former Baskin-Robbins coworker Kent Torrey. “Kent, I’ve got to tell you, your dad was one major S.O.B. of a teacher, but at least I learned something from him” in junior-year U.S. history. “What a cool, backhanded compliment from one of the bigger jocks on campus,” Kent thought. Several of Barry’s friends remember a cohosted graduation party at Kenji Salz’s family’s home with Stan Dunham serving as greeter. “Gramps” was “a great guy” who would always “make sure everybody’s being included,” Greg Ramos remembered. None of Barry’s friends have any clear recollections of Ann Dunham from that weekend. Some, like Mike Ramos and Dan Hale, believe they met her then or at some other time, but as Mike put it, “she lived in Indonesia” and “was just in and out” when visiting Honolulu. Mike’s brother Greg knows he never met her. “She was not a part of his life” during those final years at Punahou. “His grandparents raised him.” Ann remained in Honolulu for five weeks before returning to Indonesia. Early that summer, Barry hoped to get a job at a pizza parlor—not Mama Mia’s with Gay Ray—and Mark Hebing gave him a ride to the interview. But Barry quickly came back out. The place served beer, and Barry was still two months shy of being eighteen—too young to serve beer if not to drink it. Barry sent eighteen-year-old Hebs in, and he was hired. Barry later recalled making $4 an hour painting instead and also working as a waiter at an assisted-living facility. By the time of his Punahou graduation, Barry knew that in the fall he would be attending Occidental College in Los Angeles—more precisely, in a far northeastern neighborhood called Eagle Rock, close to the small city of Pasadena. Obama later once half-claimed he chose “Oxy” because he had met some girl on vacation in Honolulu who was from Brentwood—far on the opposite side of sprawling Los Angeles—but the choice may also have been influenced by the hope that he was good enough to play college basketball. Punahou teammate Dan Hale remembers that Barry “really wanted to play college basketball” and as of spring 1979, he believed he “had an opportunity to play there” on an NCAA Division III team. Occidental recruiter Kraig King, a 1977 Oxy graduate who had combined a stellar academic record with four years of standout play as a starter on Oxy’s varsity basketball team, had visited Punahou back in mid-November 1978, at the same time that Barry was doing so well in Occidental graduate Ian Mattoch’s Law and Society class. Obama later publicly thanked Paula Miyashiro Kurashige as “my dean who got me into college,” and Greg Ramos has a clear memory of Barry being disappointed at how his college applications had turned out. Oxy “was clearly a second choice for him,” especially with another basketball teammate, Darin Maurer, headed to Stanford. Years later Obama said that Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania also rejected him. Oxy required two letters of recommendation; might one from an alumnus who could testify that Barry’s A- in Law and Society was a better predictor of his academic potential than the rest of his Punahou transcript have been decisive? If so, no copy survives. One afternoon in early September 1979, just a few days before Obama was leaving for Occidental, he paid another visit to grandfatherly Frank Marshall Davis. Frank asked him what he expected to get out of college, and Barry, at least as he later recounted their conversation, replied that he didn’t know. “That’s the problem, isn’t it? You don’t know. … All you know is that college is the next thing you’re supposed to do.” But Frank had a warning. “Understand something, boy. You’re not going to college to get educated. You’re going there to get trained. They’ll train you to want what you don’t need. They’ll train you to manipulate words so they don’t mean anything anymore. They’ll train you to forget what you already know. They’ll train you so good, you’ll start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that shit. They’ll give you a corner office and invite you to fancy dinners, and tell you you’re a credit to your race. Until you want to actually start running things, and then they’ll yank on your chain and let you know that you may well be a well-trained, well-paid nigger, but you’re a nigger just the same.” Barry was confused. Was Frank saying he shouldn’t be going to college? Frank sighed. “No. I didn’t say that. You’ve got to go. I’m just telling you to keep your eyes open. Stay awake.” With those words of paternal advice, the only African American adult eighteen-year-old Barry Obama had ever known bid him farewell for the West Coast mainland. Chapter Three (#ulink_c83709dd-f69f-5cef-abac-4d01a9b37cbc) SEARCHING FOR HOME (#ulink_c83709dd-f69f-5cef-abac-4d01a9b37cbc) EAGLE ROCK, MANHATTAN, BROOKLYN, AND HERMITAGE, PA SEPTEMBER 1979–JULY 1985 Eighteen-year-old Barry Obama arrived on Occidental College’s campus in Los Angeles’s far northeastern Eagle Rock neighborhood on Sunday, September 16, 1979. Upon arrival, he learned that his dormitory assignment was Haines Hall Annex, room A104, a small, three-man “triple.” Oxy, as everyone called it, had expected 425 entering freshmen but, on the day before Obama arrived, the number hit 434 before growing to 458. Of them, 243 were men and 215 were women. The students noted the unexpectedly tight quarters, but college officials were overjoyed, because for several years Oxy had been having a hard time both attracting and retaining academically qualified undergraduates. Eighteen months earlier, college president Richard C. Gilman had told the faculty that the freshman class target was being reduced from 450 to 425 because for the last three or four years “admission had been offered to every qualified applicant,” Oxy’s student newspaper reported. Gilman confessed that some who were admitted “may not have been fully qualified.” Out of 1,124 applicants for the class of 1980, only 179 had been refused admission. To raise Oxy’s standards, a new dean of admissions and new staff were hired in mid-1977, but as of 1978 only 54.2 percent of students admitted to the previous four graduating classes had graduated in the normal four years. The class of 1980 was distinguished by the number of dropouts and students transferring to larger institutions. Oxy’s student newspaper interviewed sophomores about their plans, and in a front-page story reported that “it seems that at least half of them are not planning to return next year.” The “primary complaint is that the college is too small and limited” academically; other issues were “the limited social atmosphere, the immaturity of the student body and the lack of privacy on campus.” Privacy didn’t get any easier with the advent of three-person triples, and Haines Annex and a second dorm each had three of these freshman rooms interspersed on hallways otherwise housing upperclassmen. Barry’s two roommates had arrived before him: Paul Carpenter had grown up in nearby Diamond Bar, California, and graduated from Ganesha High School in Pomona. Imad Husain was originally from Karachi, Pakistan, and he and his family now lived in Dubai; he had graduated from the Bedford School in England. Imad was one of many international students at Oxy; in contrast, this freshman class of 1983 included only twenty-plus African American students, mostly from heavily black neighborhoods in nearby South Central Los Angeles. Oxy’s tuition for the 1979–80 year was $4,752, with room and board adding another $2,100, for a total of just under $7,000. Barry’s mother Ann Sutoro was earning a respectable salary from DAI in Indonesia—and, as the IRS would charge six years later, was failing to pay her U.S. taxes on it—and Madelyn Dunham still worked as a vice president at Bank of Hawaii. Decades later, an article in an Occidental publication would print Obama’s statement that he had received “a full scholarship” that he recalled totaling $7,700, and journalists would repeat that pronouncement as an unquestioned fact. But Occidental awarded financial aid only on the basis of financial need and, like Punahou, made work-study employment a part of any recipient’s financial aid package. There is no evidence in Oxy’s surviving records that support Obama’s statement about financial aid, and none of his Oxy classmates remember him working any on-campus job. Classes began on September 20. Occidental operated on a quarter, or more accurately, trimester system—fall, winter, and spring. Most freshmen followed Oxy’s Core Program. A freshman seminar covered the basics of how to use the library and write a paper, easy indeed for anyone from Punahou. Distribution requirements mandated a sampling of American, European, and “World” culture courses across freshman and sophomore years, plus a foreign language—Spanish in Obama’s case, after his unfortunate early encounter with French at Punahou—but within that framework students had a great deal of choice. That fall Obama selected Political Science 90, American Political Ideas and Institutions, a lecture class of about 120 students taught in two five-week segments. The first, covering American political thought from Madison and Jefferson through Lincoln, the Progressives, the New Deal, and the mid-twentieth-century debate over pluralism versus elitism, was handled by Roger Boesche, a young assistant professor who had received his Ph.D. from Stanford in 1976. The second, covering the structure and powers of the federal legislative, executive, and judicial branches, was taught by Richard F. Reath, a soon-to-retire senior professor. Boesche in particular impressed Obama. One of his other enduring memories from freshman year was reading Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, published just two years earlier, in an introductory literature course. One hope Barry brought with him to Oxy was quickly diminished, namely any future as a collegiate basketball player, even at a small Division III school. Midday pickup games at Rush Gymnasium well in advance of preseason team practice—“noon ball” in the school’s parlance—quickly demonstrated that Oxy had plenty of players with talent well beyond what Obama had seen in Hawaiian high school AA games. Barry was still not a good outside shooter, and he was so left-handed he always drove leftward and could not cross over. His love of basketball would remain, but his final official team game had taken place in Honolulu six months earlier. Instead Obama’s freshman year revolved around Haines Annex, with its mix of students crammed into tiny rooms on a narrow hallway with one alcove that offered an old couch of uncertain color. In addition to Barry, Paul, and Imad, a second freshman triple included Phil Boerner, a graduate of Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland, whose father was a foreign service officer stationed at the U.S. embassy in London. Another triple just around the corner housed Paul Anderson from Minneapolis, a track-and-field athlete. A sophomore triple right across the hall had two Southern Californians, Ken Sulzer and John Boyer. A second next door included Sim Heninger, a North Carolina native who had grown up in Bremerton, Washington; a third had Adam Sherman, from Rockville, Maryland. Tight quarters made for open doors and quick, close friendships. One night early on Barry, Paul Carpenter, Phil Boerner, John Boyer, and others drove to Hollywood to see the movie Apocalypse Now, which had opened just a few weeks earlier. There was a long line; right in front of the Oxy crew was the well-known musician Tom Waits, who Phil remembered was “quite wasted.” Getting wasted happened at Oxy too, and perhaps more in Haines Annex than in any other dorm. Loud music helped set the tone, and as Ken Sulzer drily recalled, “if there was an alcohol restriction in the dorms, I wasn’t aware of it.” But drinking wasn’t the half of it. “Choom” and “pakalolo” weren’t part of mainland vocabulary, but partaking was even more common in Haines Annex that 1979–80 school year than Barry’s trips up to Pumping Station had been a year earlier. Adam Sherman, who was an enthusiastic participant in what he later would acknowledge was a “very wild year,” wrote a short story describing the group of regulars who gathered at least four or five nights a week in the hallway alcove that Sim Heninger termed “a male sanctum.” The “threadbare couch” sat on a “cigarette-scarred” “aquamarine carpet which is littered with broken, stale potato chips” and “a few mangled and crushed beer cans.” Drawing from a ceramic “crimson bong,” “the dope” is passed from Paul Carpenter, whose blue eyes are “glazed over in pink, dilated inebriation,” to Imad and then to Sim Heninger. The early-morning scene ends with Paul waking Adam from a sound sleep on the hallway floor. Other nights proceeded more energetically, with Phil Boerner ruefully recalling how the regulars would “repeatedly break the fire extinguisher glass during late-night wrestling matches.” Barry Obama was a nightly participant in the hallway gatherings. John Boyer, who kept an irregular journal over the course of the year, recorded how Adam was upset after one holiday break when Obama failed to bring something back for the group from the lush environs of Oahu. Carpenter remembered Obama as someone who “listened carefully” during hallway discussions; Michael Schwartz, a good friend of Carpenter’s and Anderson’s, remembered Barry as “reserved” and can picture him drinking beer out of a paper cup. Samuel Yaw “Kofi” Manu, a Ghanaian student who met Obama in the introductory political science class, recalls how “extremely friendly” Obama was; sophomore Mark Parsons, a fellow heavy smoker, remembers Barry telling him, “I smoke like this because I want to keep my weight down.” John Boyer still has an image of Barry and Adam having long, late-night conversations on the decrepit couch. Obama was “personable” and “quick to laugh,” with “a great sense of humor.” But Boyer notes that Barry was “always vague” about his family, and even during those late-night discussions, with beer and marijuana relaxing most everyone’s demeanors, “there was always kind of a wall” on Barry’s part. It was “not really aloofness,” Boyer explained, but something self-protective; Obama was more an observer than a spontaneous participant. “ ‘Remove’ is a good word,” Boyer concluded. One Friday night in mid-October Barry, Sim, and a sophomore woman were sitting in Haines Hall proper, all under the influence of mood enhancers. In Barry’s case those included psychedelic mushrooms, and as a result, Obama “just came unglued. He was a mess.” Sim believed that Barry had been adopted and raised by an older white couple whose photo he once displayed, but this night, as Obama babbled about identity and nudity and not wanting to experience rejection, it seemed as if he “was pretty troubled” and was experiencing a “big crisis.” At bottom Barry seemed “uncomfortable and frightened,” as well as “hysterical and angry,” Heninger remembered. “There was no barrier between us in this moment,” but for Sim “it was difficult and uncomfortable” in the extreme. Eventually Barry “scraped himself together.” Given everything that had been consumed, Sim later mused that neither Obama nor the young woman probably remembered the experience at all, even though in Heninger’s eyes it was “a big deal. We called it a day and it blew over,” and “I never talked to him about it” again. For Thanksgiving 1979, just like on weekends “if there was wash to be done, or refrigerators to be raided,” Barry joined Paul Carpenter at Paul’s family home about thirty miles away. Mike Ramos, in college in Washington State, remembers some holiday in late 1979 when he picked up Greg Orme in Oregon and then rendezvoused with Barry and some others at Mike’s younger sister’s apartment in Berkeley, just east of San Francisco. Oxy had an almost four-week break after fall exams ended on December 6 and before winter term classes began on January 3, 1980, so Barry probably returned to Honolulu for a good chunk of that time, when Oxy’s dorms were closed. When winter term commenced, Obama took the second course in the political science introductory sequence, Comparative Politics, which that year was taught by the campus’s most easily recognized and outspoken young faculty member, openly gay assistant professor Lawrence Goldyn. A 1973 graduate of Reed College in Oregon who had earned his Ph.D. from Stanford just months earlier, Goldyn was an unmistakable figure on Oxy’s campus. To say that Goldyn was out “would be an understatement,” political science major Ken Sulzer recalled. Goldyn was “funny, engaging,” and wore “these really tight bright yellow pants and open-toed sandals.” Gay liberation was not part of the Comparative Politics course, but Goldyn drew “a good-sized crowd” one evening during that term when he spoke on gay activism, and a column he wrote for the student newspaper ended by declaring that “the point of liberation, sexual or otherwise, is to rewrite the rules.” Goldyn made a huge impact on Barry Obama. Almost a quarter century later, asked about his understanding of gay issues, Obama enthusiastically said, “my favorite professor my first year in college was one of the first openly gay people that I knew … He was a terrific guy” with whom Obama developed a “friendship” beyond the classroom. Four years later, in a similar interview, Obama again brought up Goldyn. “He was the first … openly gay person of authority that I had come in contact with. And he was just a terrific guy,” displaying “comfort in his own skin,” and the “strong friendship” that “we developed helped to educate me” about gayness. Goldyn years later would remember that Obama “was not fearful of being associated with me” in terms of “talking socially” and “learning from me” after as well as in class. Three years later, Obama wrote somewhat elusively to his first intimate girlfriend that he had thought about and considered gayness, but ultimately had decided that a same-sex relationship would be less challenging and demanding than developing one with the opposite sex. But there is no doubting that Goldyn gave eighteen-year-old Barry a vastly more positive and uplifting image of gay identity and self-confidence than he had known in Honolulu. Gayness was not one of the subjects discussed every night in Haines Annex’s grungy alcove in early 1980. But the residents did talk about the Soviet Union’s recent invasion of Afghanistan. Then, on January 23, President Jimmy Carter in his State of the Union speech announced that he would ask Congress to register young men in preparation for possibly reinstituting a military draft to augment the U.S.’s all-volunteer forces. That news gave Oxy’s small band of politically conscious students a new issue to use to regenerate significant student activism. Two years earlier, a trio of Oxy students—Andy Roth, Gary Chapman, and Doyle Van Fossen—had responded to a challenge posed by the well-known political activist Ralph Nader during an early 1978 campus speech. Occidental, Nader noted, had some $3 million of its endowment invested in more than a dozen corporations such as IBM, Ford, General Motors, and Bank of America that did business in South Africa, which was known for its harshly racist system of apartheid. In reaction, the undergraduate Democratic Socialist Fellowship formed a Student Coalition Against Apartheid (SCAA) to demand that Oxy divest its stock holdings in companies that continued to operate there. SCAA quickly gathered more than eight hundred student signatures on a petition calling for divestment, but in early April 1978, Oxy president Gilman rebuffed the students’ request. A week later a protest rally of more than three hundred, including Oxy’s only African American faculty member, Mary Jane Hewitt, greeted a board of trustees’ meeting that affirmed Gilman’s refusal. Several weeks later Hewitt resigned from Oxy after she was denied promotion to a higher rank, and the trio of student leaders submitted an angry letter to Oxy’s weekly newspaper saying that in light of those two outcomes “we are forced to conclude that a racial bias permeates this institution.” By the 1978–79 academic year, the trustees’ finance committee chairman, Harry Colmery, debated Gary Chapman, head of the newly renamed Democratic Socialist Alliance (DSA) at a campus forum, but then the board announced it had ceded investment decisions to a mutual fund, thus ostensibly rendering the entire issue moot. Oxy’s faculty responded in May 1979 by adopting a resolution condemning the board’s action, but in June the trustees again reaffirmed their refusal to divest. In early 1980, the Los Angeles Times ran two stories about Oxy and its students that highlighted how significant increases in tuition and room and board fees would raise an undergraduate’s annual tab to $8,200 the next fall. Oxy’s student body was called “introspective” by one senior, and the reporter stated that “student life today” in Eagle Rock “seems placid, serene, contemplative.” Given that portrait, a turnout of more than five hundred students at an afternoon protest rally just a week after Carter’s nationally televised speech was a dramatic triumph for Oxy’s DSA. But a second meeting drew only 150 students, and a teach-in two weeks later attracted just sixty. As winter term ended in mid-March, a student newspaper headline signaled the short-lived movement’s demise: “Anti-Draft Activism Fades with Finals.” Oxy’s small black student population, about seventy in 1979–80, represented a marked decline from more than 120 just three years earlier. Academic attrition was high, the student paper reported, and after Mary Jane Hewitt’s resignation, two brand-new assistant professors, one in French, the other in American Studies, represented Oxy’s entire black faculty. A young black graduate of Vassar College was a newly hired assistant dean, but by spring she had submitted her resignation before a student petition effort led Oxy to successfully request that she withdraw it. Two black male sophomores, Earl Chew and Neil Moody, petitioned to establish a chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, citing “a serious social and cultural problem on campus” for minority students. Chew, a St. Louis native, had graduated from tony Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and weeks earlier had taken the lead in creating an Oxy lacrosse team. But blacks at Oxy, Chew and Moody said, suffered from “a lack of cohesiveness, a generally present personal sense of being members of an ethnic minority group which cannot engage in collective achievement.” Indeed, when Oxy’s yearbook, La Encina, scheduled its 1979–80 photo of Ujima, the African American undergraduate group, only fourteen students showed up to appear in the picture. Barry Obama was not one of them. Haines Annex’s short hallway was home to three other black male undergraduates besides Barry, sophomores Neil Moody and Ricky Johnson and freshman Willard Hankins Jr., but Obama did not develop relationships with any of them like he did with the crew of late-night alcove regulars. Most Oxy black students, particularly those from greater Los Angeles, stuck pretty much together. “There is a certain amount of minority segregation in the dining hall and in the quad,” the student paper observed. Black students who did not follow that pattern stood out. Judith Pinn Carlisle’s African American mother had graduated from Howard University, her white father from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She and her two siblings all attended junior high schools in Greenwich, Connecticut, but a family financial setback during Judith’s high school years had her living in South Central Los Angeles while she attended Oxy. Shy and quiet, “I kept to myself,” she said, and as a result, “I was challenged by many people on that campus as to my black legitimacy,” notwithstanding how “I’m living at Crenshaw and Adams” in the heart of black L.A. Earl Chew was a particular antagonist, treating Judith as if she was “a sellout,” she recalled. Chew “did not like me” and the hostility “was very disturbing.” Sophomore Eric Moore’s mother had also graduated from Howard, and Eric grew up in mostly white, upper-middle-class Boulder, Colorado. “There weren’t that many black students on campus and there weren’t that many that went outside of the black clique,” he recounted. Eric had a diverse set of friends, including a junior from Karachi, Pakistan, Hasan Chandoo, who had grown up largely in Singapore and transferred to Oxy after a freshman year at Windham College in Vermont. Also from Karachi was sophomore Wahid Hamid, who roomed with French-born sophomore Laurent Delanney. Both Hamid and Chandoo had long known Imad Husain, Barry Obama’s roommate. By the spring of 1980 Chandoo was living off-campus with Vinai Thummalapally, an Indian graduate student who along with Hasan’s cousin Ahmed Chandoo was attending California State University and whose girlfriend, Barbara Nichols-Roy, who had also grown up in India, was an Oxy junior. As Eric Moore later said, they had “our own little UN there.” Eric remembers Obama as always having “that big beaming smile,” and says he was “always in a Hawaiian shirt and some OP shorts and flip-flops.” Indeed, he says, Barry seemed “more Hawaiian and Asian and international in his acculturation than certainly he was African American.” Obama “hadn’t had an urban African American experience at all,” and at Oxy “many of the local Los Angeles African Americans were not as receptive to the cultural diversity” on campus as Eric was. Barry was “a little isolated from that group,” and just as Judith experienced, “there was some pushback from certain individuals.” Earl Chew was the most widely visible African American student on campus, and while some found him hostile, Hasan Chandoo considered him a “really wonderful friend.” African American freshman Kim Kimbrew, later Amiekoleh Usafi, remembers Earl as “a bright and shining person” who was “just completely committed” to black advancement. Like Eric, she viewed Barry as “a really relaxed boy from Hawaii who wore flip-flops and shorts.” Obama once asked her to “come over here and talk to me,” Kim recalled. “I don’t know if he’d ever really been around black women at that point” and in terms of pursuing women, “he seemed to keep himself away from all of that.” Spring term began the last week of March and lasted until early June. Barry, along with Paul Carpenter, was in a third core political science course, this one on international relations and cotaught by professors Larry Caldwell and Carlos Alan Egan. Junior Susan Keselenko found Egan “a very romantic figure,” but the course itself was “really tedious.” A significant portion of it involved pairs of nine-student teams contending with each other in a multistage group paper exercise that Keselenko would remember as “very kind of mechanical.” Susan and a fellow junior, Caroline Boss, ended up in “Group Y” along with Barry; Paul Carpenter was in the opposing “Group A.” Boss, a political science major and active DSA member who as a freshman had run on the progressive slate for Oxy’s student government offices, served as the group’s informal leader. In mid-May Caroline and Susan orally presented Group Y’s six-page paper, “The MX Missile: Bigger Is Not Better.” In the January State of the Union speech that had generated Oxy’s draft registration protests, President Carter also had proposed spending as much as $70 billion to build two hundred mobile, ten-warhead-apiece MX missiles that would be deployed all across the U.S. Southwest. Attacking Carter’s proposal as “an unnecessary, economically and environmentally devastating venture,” Group Y said that if implemented, the MX project “will destabilize the international balance, accelerate the arms race, and increase the likelihood of nuclear war”—the same themes that one group member’s father had publicly articulated exactly eighteen years earlier! Whichever instructor gave it a C was not impressed. The paper had “a certain superficial fluency or glibness,” he wrote, but “it demonstrates a very great disregard for careful thought, little concept of how one analyzes an issue, and fails to make a persuasive argument.” Ouch. Carpenter’s Group A was hardly kinder in their critique, asserting that “Group Y’s paper as a whole lacked original analysis” and that “vital contradictions … undermined their thesis considerably.” Y then penned a rebuttal as well as their critique of Group A’s own paper, which addressed the 1978 Camp David Accords. The critique received an A even though it contained multiple obvious spelling errors, including “Palestenians,” and creation of the verb “abilitated.” Obama appears to have orally presented Group Y’s critique, for in the margin alongside their paper’s statement that “A settlement amenable to the oil producing Arab states does not insure an improved position for the U.S. in regard to oil,” one of his fellow students penned “Barry > abandon Israel will not protect U.S. oil access.” Outside of class, regular activities from earlier in the academic year continued apace. Humorous event listings in the somewhat tardy April Fools’ issue of the student newspaper included one announcing that “Haines Annex will host a religious revival this Wednesday at 8:00. Participants will be asked to let their hair down for one night in an effort to communicate with extra-terrestrial Gods utilizing the means of herbal stimuli.” Just as at Punahou a year earlier, there was hardly anything secretive about some students’ recreational preferences. One Saturday Barry, Eric Moore, and seniors Mark Anderson and Romeo Garcia went to a music festival in nearby Pasadena Central Park. Eric remembered that “we were culture and music hounds,” but with Oxy being an “island in the barrio” of surrounding Eagle Rock, Obama would join him on drives to South Central Los Angeles to get their hair cut. Sometimes the police pulled over Eric and Barry. “It was par for the course,” Moore explained years later. The April 4, 1979, execution of former Pakistani president Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had been deposed two years earlier in a military coup led by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, had greatly intensified Pakistan’s political turmoil and also caught the attention of several Oxy students. Hasan Chandoo had grown up in a politically aware family, and his mother was a distant relation of Pakistan’s revered founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Chandoo’s girlfriend Margot Mifflin, a sophomore who had started an Oxy field hockey team that Hasan volunteered to coach because he found its star player so attractive, knew best how “passionate” Chandoo’s hatred was for the military dictatorship. “I think I recall Hasan spray painting ‘Death to Zia’ somewhere on campus,” she later recounted. Pakistan was a regular topic of discussion in the Haines Annex alcove and even more so in the Freeman student union snack bar that everyone called the Cooler. Open during the day and then again from 8:00 P.M. to 11:30 P.M., the Cooler was the favorite hangout for Oxy’s most politically conscious students, like Caroline Boss, as well as for self-identified literati like Chuck Jensvold, a junior transfer from a community college who was five years older than his classmates. By spring term 1980, Barry was an evening regular there too. “Obama always seemed to be in there,” smoking and drinking coffee, “just jousting back and forth with whoever would come,” Eric Moore remembered. One day when Barry walked into the Cooler, Caroline Boss from his political science class introduced him to Susan Keselenko’s roommate, junior Lisa Jack, an aspiring portrait photographer. Lisa already had been told that Barry was this “hot” guy, and seeing that he indeed was “really cute,” she asked if she could take a roll of photos of him. Barry readily agreed, and a few days later he walked over to Lisa and Susan’s nearby apartment. Wearing jeans, a dress shirt, and a leather bomber jacket with a fur collar, Barry also wore a ring on his left index finger, a digital watch on his left wrist, and a bushy Afro that was in need of a drive to South Central. Jack’s first fifteen photos captured Obama smiling and smoking while sitting on a simple couch. Then Obama doffed the jacket, rolled up his shirtsleeves, and put on a colorful Panama hat he had brought along. Jack shot eighteen pictures of Obama wearing the hat, then a final three of him bareheaded. Throughout them all, Obama looked without question happy, carefree, and very young for eighteen years of age. Over a quarter century later, when Jack discovered her old negatives and sold publication rights for some of them to Time magazine, former Oxy classmates who had clear memories of Obama’s daily appearance during those years said the guy in the photos bore little resemblance to how they remembered him. “That’s not how he looked or dressed,” Eric Moore commented. John Boyer was even more succinct: “That’s not him.” After spring term exams, Barry spent some of the summer living with Vinai Thummalapally in the apartment Vinai and Hasan Chandoo had shared. Barry returned to Hawaii for at least part of the summer, and on July 29 he registered for the reinstituted military draft at a Honolulu post office. His almost ten-year-old sister Maya had landed in Hawaii twelve days earlier; their mother, Ann, apparently had arrived some weeks previously, because on June 15, a local attorney had filed her signed divorce complaint against Lolo in the same court where sixteen years earlier Ann had divorced Barry’s biological father. Ann’s filing said that “the marriage is irretrievably broken”; in a supporting document she stated that “husband has not contributed to support of wife and children since 1974,” was “living with another woman” and “wishes to remarry.” Ann reported that she was living “in 4-bedroom house provided by” DAI, her employer, and that she had “2 full-time live-in domestics.” The decree she and Lolo signed stated that Lolo “shall not be required to provide for the support, maintenance, and education” of Maya. Ann and Maya were again staying with Alice Dewey, but Barry was back with his grandparents in their apartment near Punahou. As Obama later told it, one morning Stan and Madelyn argued over her wanting him to drive her to the Bank of Hawaii instead of her continuing her years-long pattern of taking a bus. Madelyn said that on the previous morning an aggressive panhandler had continued to confront her even after she gave him a dollar. Barry offered to drive her downtown, but Stanley objected. He said Madelyn had experienced this before and had been able to shrug it off, but now her fear was greater simply because this panhandler was black. That angered Stan, who refused to take her. In Obama’s later telling, Stan’s use of the word “black” was “like a fist in my stomach, and I wobbled to regain my composure.” Stan apologized for telling Barry, and said he would drive Madelyn downtown. Then they left. Stanley’s obvious comfort with people of color, as well as his liberal political leanings, may not have been fully shared by now fifty-seven-year-old Madelyn, and in Obama’s recounting years later he added that never had either grandparent “given me reason to doubt their love.” Yet he was struck by the realization that men “who might easily have been my brothers” could spur Madelyn’s “rawest fears,” at least when they aggressively approached her at close quarters. Obama says he went that evening to see Frank Marshall Davis, who was now approaching his seventy-fifth birthday. Frank’s poetry from the years before his 1948 move to Hawaii was now being rediscovered and studied by a younger generation of African American literature scholars, several of whom had interviewed Frank about his long and fascinating life. Barry recounted his grandparents’ argument, and Frank asked if Barry knew that he and Barry’s grandparents had grown up hardly fifty miles apart in south central Kansas at a time when young black men were expected to step off the sidewalk if a white pedestrian approached. Barry hadn’t. Frank remembered Stan telling him that when Ann was young, he and Madelyn had hired a young black woman as a babysitter and that she had become “a regular part of the family.” Frank scoffed at that patronizing, but told Barry that Stanley was a good man even if he could never understand what it felt like to be black and how those feelings could affect black people. “What I’m trying to tell you is, your grandma’s right to be scared. She’s at least as right as Stanley is. She understands that black people have a reason to hate. That’s just how it is. For your sake, I wish it was otherwise. But it’s not. So you might as well get used to it.” In Obama’s telling, Frank then fell asleep in his chair, and Barry left. Walking to the car, “the earth shook under my feet, ready to crack open at any moment. I stopped, trying to steady myself, and knew for the first time that I was utterly alone.” That night was apparently the last time Obama saw Frank Marshall Davis. But no matter how overdramatized Obama’s later account may have been, his previous nine months at Oxy had exposed him for the very first time to mainland African Americans who had a racial consciousness that a Hawaiian who had hardly ever experienced even minor racial mistreatment could not grasp any more than his sixty-two-year-old white grandfather could understand what four decades of being a black man in mainland America had taught his friend Frank. And black Oxy students from South Central L.A. or St. Louis had more trouble feeling at ease in a 90 percent white institution than someone from Punahou could. Barry Obama’s Oxy classmates were not being racially obtuse when they saw their happy, relaxed, and reserved friend as a multiethnic Hawaiian rather than a black American. Oxy’s fall term classes began at the end of September 1980. By then, Barry had accepted Hasan Chandoo’s invitation to share a two-bedroom ground-floor apartment in a small two-story, multiunit building at 253 East Glenarm Street in South Pasadena, a fifteen-minute drive from Oxy. Before the dorms opened, Hasan’s younger friend Asad Jumabhoy, an Indian-origin Muslim also from Singapore who was an entering freshman, crashed on their living room couch. Hasan had a yellow Fiat 128S, and Barry soon acquired a beat-up red Fiat coupe. Vinai Thummalapally and an Indian roommate lived upstairs, and Barry sometimes gave Vinai’s girlfriend Barbara a lift to or from Oxy. Living off campus, Barry spent more time hanging out in the Cooler between and after classes. Cooler regular Caroline Boss cochaired Oxy’s Democratic Socialist Alliance, in which Hasan was active, and Hasan was also still coaching Margot Mifflin’s field hockey team. As Margot and Hasan got more involved, Margot and her roommate, Dina Silva, spent increasing time at Hasan and Barry’s apartment. “They had great social gatherings, parties, dinners,” Dina recalled, and Imad Husain and Paul Carpenter, still living in Haines Annex, plus Paul’s girlfriend Beth Kahn, were among the regulars. “They used to throw a great party there,” Paul agreed. “Food and dancing and a great mix of folks,” including Bill Snider and Sim Heninger from the old Haines Annex crowd plus Wahid Hamid, Eric Moore, and Laurent Delanney. Barry and Hasan went on outings with Wahid or Vinai and Barbara to places like Venice, where Margot took a photo of Barry, Wahid, Hasan, and Hasan’s cousin Ahmed all wearing roller skates. Whether in the Cooler or at Glenarm, Hasan’s passionate interest in politics dominated many discussions. Hasan was “very outspoken about his political views, very aggressive, opinionated, extroverted,” Margot remembers, and identified himself as a Marxist—at least “to the extent that any of us knew what we were talking about,” as Susan Keselenko sheepishly puts it. Asad Jumabhoy concurs that “Hasan was very radical at the time” and “had very strong views and he could support his argument very well.” To Chris Welton, who returned to Oxy that fall after a year abroad and soon became a close friend after meeting Hasan in one of Roger Boesche’s classes, what everyone in Hasan’s circle shared was “an outlook” that contemplated the wider world beyond “the borders of the United States.” The crux of their orientation was “international, period,” or what Caroline Boss called a “more globalized perspective” than undergraduates who had experienced only the mainland U.S. could envision. Irrespective of the venue, Hasan was “a force to be reckoned with,” Paul Carpenter recalls; Sim Heninger terms him “just a domineering personality.” Compared to Hasan, who “cursed like a sailor” while smoking incessantly, everyone saw Barry as quiet, measured, and reserved. Chris Welton remembers him as “a keen observer,” Caroline Boss would call him “mainly an observer.” Dina Silva thought of Barry as “quiet,” “thoughtful,” and “contemplative” during conversations. Obama “was listening and absorbing everything much more than being demonstrative,” Paul Anderson recalls. “He would watch people—that is what I remember,” artist friend and junior Shelley Marks recollects. “I specifically remember him being quiet and watching and observing.” During the 1980–81 academic year, Barry and Hasan became the closest of friends. Hasan’s girlfriend Margot describes it as “an affectionate relationship,” one that “wasn’t hampered by masculinity issues. They were open with each other, affectionate with each other,” for Hasan was “an open, intimate, direct person.” Often the two of them would sit and study in their kitchen; Chandoo can picture Obama reading Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” at that kitchen table. Some nights Barry studied in a glass-enclosed area in the library’s basement that everyone called the Fishbowl. Other nights Margot Mifflin and Dina Silva would join Hasan and Barry to study on East Glenarm. Marijuana was a regular though perhaps not nightly relaxant for Hasan and Barry. “I got stoned with him many times,” Margot acknowledged when asked about that 1980-81 year. And, on a less regular basis, “we did occasionally snort cocaine” at Glenarm as well, although it was “not a routine part” of their lives at that time. Sim Heninger can remember nights of “uproar and hilarity” at Barry and Hasan’s apartment, but also at least one scene that was “a little scary for me.” Bill Snider, reflecting back on both Obama’s freshman and sophomore years, deftly remarks that “his memory may be a little hazy” both from those nights at Haines Annex and from the subsequent regular parties on Glenarm. In mid-October 1980 Roger Boesche and faculty colleague Eric Newhall failed badly in an effort to persuade Oxy’s faculty to adopt a resolution demanding that the college divest itself of stock holdings in companies still doing business in South Africa. Oxy’s student newspaper immediately noted that two years earlier student activism had forced the issue to the top of Oxy’s agenda. Just days later, Caroline Boss announced that she and friends were reviving the Student Coalition Against Apartheid (SCAA). Oxy president Richard Gilman dismissed divestment as “an altogether too simplistic solution” while nonetheless acknowledging “the racist conditions in South Africa,” but a young sociology professor, Dario Longhi, who had studied in Zambia, took the lead in organizing a series of expert visiting speakers on South Africa for late in the fall term. Earl Chew took an active role while also complaining that Oxy lacked a “multicultural curriculum and social life” and needed far greater diversity. Sometime late in the fall term, Eric Moore and Hasan Chandoo had conversations with Barry Obama about his name. Eric had spent part of the previous summer in Kenya as part of Crossroads Africa, a student educational program that dated from 1958 and in which Oxy was an active collegiate participant. “What kind of name is Barry Obama—for a brother?” Eric asked him one day. “Actually, my name’s Barack Obama,” came the answer. “I go by Barry so that I don’t have to explain my name all the time.” Moore was struck by Barack. “That’s a very strong name,” he told Obama, who then raised the issue with Hasan one day while they walked across campus. Chandoo agreed, and liked Barry’s middle name too. While most close friends like Paul Carpenter and Wahid Hamid had called him “Obama” instead of Barry and stuck with that usage, from that day forward Eric, joined only by Bill Snider, began addressing him as Barack while Hasan, being Hasan, would sometimes say “Barack Hussein,” as Asad Jumabhoy clearly remembers even thirty years later. Margot Mifflin too “can remember Hasan saying ‘He goes by Barack now,’ and I said, ‘Well, what is Barack?’ and he said ‘That’s his name.’ ” At the time, she recalls, “it was jarring.” Over a quarter century later, Obama would say that he saw the change from Barry to Barack as “an assertion that I was coming of age, an assertion of being comfortable with the fact that I was different and that I didn’t need to try to fit in in a certain way.” With his Oxy friends “he would never correct you” if he was addressed as Barry, Asad explains, but when Obama returned to Honolulu for Christmas 1980, he told his mother and his sister that from now on he would no longer use his childhood nickname and instead would identify himself as Barack Obama. But to his family, just as with Hasan, Eric, and Bill, the name change signified no break in who they thought he was. As Snider explained, “I did not think of Barack as black. I did think of him as the Hawaiian surfer guy.” Long breaks between academic terms gave Barack and his best friends plenty of opportunities to travel. One week Barack and Wahid Hamid headed down to Mexico, then northward to Oregon, in Obama’s red Fiat. Two days before the end of fall term exams, Hasan and Barack showed up in the Oxy library with a surprise birthday cake for Caroline Boss, who was hard at work on her senior thesis and whom they spoke with almost every day in the Cooler. Caroline invited the duo to stop by her family home in Portola Valley, near Stanford, over the holidays when Hasan and Barack would be on the road in Hasan’s yellow Fiat. Either before or after a New Year’s Eve party in San Francisco at which Hasan introduced Barack to another Pakistani friend, Sohale Siddiqi, Hasan and Barack arrived at midday at Boss’s home. Her boyfriend John Drew, a 1979 magna cum laude Oxy political science graduate, was also there; he was in his second year of graduate school at Cornell University. Boss had spent the summer of 1980 in Ithaca taking summer classes, and Drew knew Caroline as “a fun, scintillating, hyper-extroverted,” and “intellectually vibrant” young woman who, despite her adoptive parents’ significant wealth, worked cleaning an Oxy professor’s home. That winter day in San Mateo County, the four young people headed out to lunch with Caroline’s parents; Drew recalled much of their conversation focusing on Latin America and particularly El Salvador. Back at the Bosses’ home, as Drew remembered it, he and Obama got into a “high-intensity” argument about the relevance of Marxist analysis to contemporary politics. Drew’s “most vivid memory” was how strongly Obama “argued a rather simple-minded version of Marxist theory” and that “he was passionate about his point of view.” Drew recalled Obama citing the work of the late French Caribbean decolonization scholar Frantz Fanon. At Oxy Drew had been active in the democratic socialist student group, but a course that past fall with Cornell’s Peter Katzenstein had significantly altered Drew’s views. “I made a strong argument that his Marxist ideas were not in line with contemporary reality—particularly the practical experience of Western Europe,” Drew would recount years later. In Drew’s memory, “Caroline was a little shocked that her old boyfriend was suddenly this reactionary conservative,” but Obama shifted to downplay their degree of disagreement, conceding that there was validity to some of Drew’s points. Drew briefly saw Barack three more times during the remaining six months of his relationship with Boss before finishing his Ph.D., teaching at Williams College, and evolving into an ardent Tea Party conservative. Oxy’s 1981 winter classes began on January 6. For the first two weeks of January, Hasan’s friend Sohale, who now lived in New York City, joined them in the Glenarm apartment as they hosted almost nightly parties. For Barack, though, this new term would be by far the most academically and politically engaging ten weeks of his collegiate career. One course he chose, Introduction to Literary Analysis, was taught by English professor Anne Howells, who had been at Oxy almost fifteen years. Utilizing the popular Norton Introduction to Literature, Howells had her fifteen students devote the first five weeks of the term to a “close reading of poetry—old-fashioned textual analysis” and then five weeks to reading short stories. There was “not very much reading, but a lot of writing”—five papers in the course of ten weeks. Barack “spoke well in class,” Howells would recall, and submitted well-written papers, but “he wasn’t a really committed student” and was late with assignments more than once. Obama also enrolled in English 110, Creative Writing, which met Tuesday and Friday mornings 10:00 A.M. until 12:00 P.M., with David James, an Englishman who had graduated from Cambridge in 1967 and earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1971. After teaching for nine years at the University of California at Riverside, James had arrived at Oxy just four months earlier. He required interested students to submit a writing sample prior to registration, an indication of the seriousness he brought to his teaching. At least five of the dozen or so students in the small class were earnest aspiring writers: Jeff Wettleson, Mark Dery, Hasan’s girlfriend Margot Mifflin, and Bill Snider and Chuck Jensvold, the older transfer student, both of whom Barack had known since his freshman year. David James was “a marvelous character,” Dery recalled, “a classic British Marxist film theory jock” who was “a very penetrating analyst of poetry.” James handed out copies of contemporary poems he believed students would find stimulating, including ones by Sylvia Plath, W. S. Merwin, and Charles Bukowski, but viewed the course as “essentially a workshop to facilitate the students’ own compositions.” Jensvold’s presence was especially generative, for writing “seemed to define his whole being,” James remembered. In particular, Jensvold had an acute “eye for concrete detail” and knew that “amassing an inventory of details” was invaluable to a creative writer. Dery also appreciated Jensvold’s presence in what became “a very invigorating class.” Chuck was “an exemplar of the serious writer,” and as an older student he was “almost our mentor.” Dery and another classmate each referred to Jensvold as “hard-boiled,” and that classmate warmly remembered Chuck as “the Bogart of Occidental.” Dery also recalled James as “a strict disciplinarian” who “didn’t suffer fools gladly” and had “zero tolerance for undergraduate lackadaisicalism.” A growing problem as the term progressed was students “straggling into class late.” One morning an angry James announced, “I am going to lock the door.” Soon a figure appeared outside the frosted glass door, unsuccessfully trying the handle. James did not react, nor to an ensuing tap or two on the classroom window. Finally Dery took the initiative to open the door, and in strolled Barack Obama. To Dery, Barack was “some species of GQ Marxist,” but an “almost painfully diffident” one whose “caginess,” even in the Cooler, made it hard to know “what he truly thought.” A third course that winter was Political Science 133 III, the final trimester of Roger Boesche’s upper-level survey of political thought, this one covering from Nietzsche through Weber to Foucault. The fifteen or so students included Hasan as well as Barack’s former Haines Annex neighbor Ken Sulzer. Although memories three decades later would be hazy on the exact details, the results of two different assignments were notable in disparate ways. Sulzer and his friend John Boyer recalled seeing Obama heading into the library late one evening before an exam or paper was due. A day or so later, pleased with his own A-, Sulzer asked Barack what he had gotten, but Obama demurred. Sulzer grabbed Barack’s blue book and was astonished that Obama had gotten a higher A than he had. Some weeks later, though, Boesche returned a paper on which he had given Obama a B. As both Barack and Boesche later recounted, within days, Obama encountered his young professor in the Cooler and asked, “Why did I get a B on this?” Boesche viewed Obama as “a student who gives incredibly good answers in class” but failed to consistently live up to his ability level on written assignments that required sustained preparation. In the Cooler, Boesche told Obama that he was smart, but “You didn’t apply yourself,” that he “wasn’t working hard enough.” Barack responded, in essence, “I’m working as hard as I can.” Boesche knew better than to believe that, but Obama would remain irritated about that B even a quarter century later, especially because Hasan Chandoo, not known for his academic diligence, received a higher grade for the term than did Barack: “I knew that even though I hadn’t studied that I knew this stuff much better than my classmates.” Obama believed Boesche was “grading me on a different curve, and I was pissed.” Obama would allude to that experience a half-dozen times in later years, often not expressly mentioning Boesche but recounting how “I had some wonderful professors … who started giving me a hard time…. ‘Why don’t you try to apply yourself a little bit?’ And that made a big difference” in later years as Obama gradually came to appreciate that he was much smarter and far more analytically gifted than anyone who knew him at either Punahou or Occidental fully realized in those times and places. Early 1981 was just as significant politically for Obama as it was academically. A listless rally on the first day of classes resulted in an Oxy newspaper headline reporting “Students Lack Interest on Draft Issue.” Six days later, an evening appearance by Dick Gregory, the comedian and political activist, that Hasan played a lead role in engineering, attracted a huge crowd of 550. Greeted by the “thunderous applause,” Gregory then spoke for more than two hours, offering up a pastiche of loony assertions about election tampering and CIA and FBI involvement in the killings of both Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King Jr., all somewhat leavened by countless humorous asides. Two days later, a far more serious student forum explored all manner of prejudices at Oxy itself, with African American junior Earl Chew confessing, “Coming here was hard for me. A lot of things that I knew as a black student, that I knew as a black, period, weren’t accepted on this campus.” Three days later, in response to a flyer distributed on campus, Hasan and Barack drove to Beverly Hills to join 350 others in a silent candlelight vigil protesting the opening of a new South African consulate on Wilshire Boulevard. Relocation of the office there, from San Francisco, had attracted hundreds of protesters three months earlier when the consulate first opened. The vigil was cosponsored by the Gathering, a two-year-old South Central clergy coalition led by Dr. King’s closest L.A. friend, Rev. Thomas Kilgore, the L.A. chapter of King’s old Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the antinuclear Alliance for Survival. Four days after that event, Thamsanqa “Tim” Ngubeni, a thirty-one-year-old South African member of the African National Congress living in exile in Los Angeles, addressed a lunchtime crowd of students on Oxy’s outdoor Quad. Born on the outskirts of Johannesburg in 1949, Ngubeni had joined the South African Students’ Organization in his early twenties and moved to Cape Town. A friend of prominent student leader Steve Biko, Ngubeni was arrested by South African authorities and imprisoned for several months before leaving South Africa and eventually making his way to L.A. in 1974, three years before Biko was killed while in South African police custody. A soccer scholarship enabled Ngubeni to attend UCLA, where he helped initiate the Afrikan Education Project and led demonstrations against the Bank of America’s involvement in South Africa. In his January 21 speech at Oxy, Ngubeni told the students that South African apartheid “causes human beings to be considered as second-class citizens within their own country, the place where they were born and raised.” ANC’s goal was for black South Africans to be “recognized as human beings” in a country that had “more prisons than schools.” Ngubeni defended the ANC’s own use of violence against the South African regime, emphasizing that “we’ve been negotiating with them all these years while they were shooting us down in the streets.” He challenged Oxy’s students to reconsider which banks they patronized given how Bank of America and Security Pacific, like IBM and General Motors, continued to do business in South Africa. Ngubeni often preached that “if you live for yourself, you live in vain. If you live for others, you live forever,” and his remarks that day certainly made an indelible impression on at least one of his young listeners. Barack Obama would tell two student interviewers a quarter century later that his meeting an ANC representative was the first time he thought about his “responsibilities to help shape the larger world.” Hasan’s intense politicization and their drive to Beverly Hills for the candlelight protest against South African apartheid were, like Roger Boesche’s professorial reprimand, the beginnings of an evolution that would flower more fully in the years ahead. As winter term approached its midpoint, political events took place almost nightly. On Sunday evening, February 8, Hasan and Barack both attended a dinner held by Ujima as part of Black Awareness Month at Oxy. The next night Lawrence Goldyn delivered a scintillating talk, deftly titled “Why Homosexuals Are Revolting.” On Tuesday evening, Phyllis Schlafly, the conservative Equal Rights Amendment opponent, spoke at Oxy and was met with heckling from a trio of young men: Hasan Chandoo, Chris Welton, and Barack Obama. But the activist students’ primary focus was on the Student Coalition Against Apartheid’s upcoming divestment rally on February 18, scheduled to coincide with the next meeting of Oxy’s board of trustees. Oxy’s paper urged all students to attend since it “has the potential to be the most effective display of student initiative in recent years.” Three students took the lead in organizing the rally: Caroline Boss, Hasan Chandoo, and Chris Welton. Caroline and Hasan decided the roster of speakers, with Hasan recruiting Tim Ngubeni to return as their keynote speaker, while Chris and Hasan handled the logistics for the noontime gathering just outside Oxy’s administration building, Coons Hall. No one can remember who first had the idea of opening the rally with a “bit of street theater,” in which two supposed South African policemen dragoon a young black speaker who wants to quiet the crowd, but Hasan and Caroline were two of Barack Obama’s closest friends. Obama later wrote that he prepared for what he expected would be two minutes of remarks prior to being dragged off. Margot Mifflin and Chuck Jensvold videotaped the rally for a class project. A large banner calling for “Affirmative Action & Divestment NOW” hung in the background. Two folksingers played “The Harder They Come” and the crowd sang along before Barack, wearing a red T-shirt and white jeans, stepped up to the microphone. It was too low, forcing him to hunch over it. Barack asked “How are you doing this fine day?” before declaring that “We call this rally today to bring attention to Occidental’s investment in South Africa and Occidental’s lack of investment in multicultural education.” The crowd cheered and clapped. Barack, with his right hand in his front pants pocket, nodded and resumed speaking. “At the front and center of higher learning, we find it appalling that Occidental has not addressed these pressing problems.” The crowd cheered again, and Barack continued, “There is no—” before Chris Welton and another white student suddenly grabbed him from behind and wrestled him offstage, much sooner than Barack had expected. “I really wanted to stay up there,” Barack later wrote, “to hear my voice bouncing off the crowd and returning back to me in applause. I had so much left to say.” In his own fictional retelling, he spoke much longer than actually was the case. “There’s a struggle going on,” he imagined having said. “I say, there’s a struggle going on. It’s happening an ocean away. But it’s a struggle that touches each and every one of us. Whether we know it or not. Whether we want it or not. A struggle that demands we choose sides.” In his recounting, Barack had gone on for another seven or more sentences, drawing cheers from the crowd and imagining that a “connection had been made.” But as Margot Mifflin later wrote after watching the videotape she had long retained, Barack’s version was “factually inaccurate” and “Obama’s speech was not long enough to be galvanic, or really even to be called a speech.” A detailed account of the rally in the next issue of Oxy’s student paper did not mention the opening skit at all. “Led by chants of ‘money out, freedom in,’ and ‘people united will never be defeated,’ ” the story said the ninety-minute rally attracted a crowd of more than three hundred, plus several local TV news crews. As a few Oxy trustees and even President Gilman watched, Caroline Boss introduced Tim Ngubeni, who spoke briefly before giving way to senior Sarah-Etta Harris, a Cleveland native, Philips Exeter graduate, and Ujima leader with a glowing résumé that included a semester’s study in Madrid and a summer fellowship in Washington, D.C. A photograph taken by sophomore Tom Grauman during Ngubeni’s remarks captured a tall, regal Harris standing well apart from Caroline, Hasan, Obama, and other friends, including Wahid Hamid and Laurent Delanney. Harris warned the crowd that by continuing to invest in companies that did business in South Africa, Oxy’s trustees “are telling us that they support oppression over there and also over here.” She then spoke directly about Oxy. “I can count the number of black faculty on two fingers, and black student enrollment has been going down steadily.” Harris drew cheers from the audience when she said she found it “hard to believe that the trustees cannot redirect their investments to correct some of the problems we have right here on campus.” Many viewed freshman Becky Rivera as the day’s star speaker. “We’re upset,” she announced, and they were “demanding answers and demanding action.” Margot Mifflin remembers several African American women jumping to their feet during Rivera’s speech and exclaiming, “Say it!” Rivera closed by declaring that “students are responsible for revolutions. Students have power. It starts on the campuses.” The rally’s final speaker was Ujima president Earl Chew. Caroline Boss remembers him as “so angry and on fire” but also “a kind person.” Chew was a complicated figure because he “had this prep school background, but at the same time he was very street.” After almost three years at Oxy, he was “very disillusioned” with a college that was “so painfully white.” Chew denounced Oxy’s idea of a liberal arts education as “a farce,” and excoriated the college for “taking our tuition and investing it in the oppression of our ancestral people.” Divestment “may not change the apartheid regime, but it’s letting our brothers and sisters in South Africa know that we … know better than to oppress other humans for economic gain.” As the rally broke up, Rivera sought out Obama to congratulate him on his role. “He really had been on the fringes politically up until that point,” Rivera recalled. She told him, “I wish you would get more involved,” but rather than thanking Rivera, Obama was simply “noncommittal.” That evening Hasan and Barack hosted a party to celebrate everyone’s efforts. Caroline Boss remembers her exchanges with Obama that evening and, like Rebecca Rivera earlier, she was annoyed that he was openly moping rather than savoring his role. “I was really annoyed with him” when he started “yapping about how ‘I didn’t do a good job, and I could have said it better.’ ” As Boss recalled, “we all sort of went ‘Shut up! It was great. It was fine. You did what you were supposed to do. Move on.’ ” She was irritated that Barack viewed their group effort only in terms of himself. “The rally wasn’t about you developing your technique,” she spat out. “It was about South Africa, not you.” Obama would recall a similar conversation with Sarah-Etta Harris, who had quietly befriended him a year earlier. Boss’s annoyance was grounded in the many discussions she had had with him in the Cooler, including ones about Obama adopting Barack in place of Barry. “A lot of the year’s conversations when they weren’t about politics was about identity, me talking about being adopted and him talking about sort of this weird experience of who’s his father and where’s his mother.” Caroline’s adoptive parents came from Switzerland, and were now wealthy, but Caroline’s maternal grandparents had been peasants who worked as a janitor and maid in an Interlaken bank. “I was very forthright about my own feelings about my adoptive state,” Boss remembers, and Barack was “absolutely” clear that he was wrestling with his own feelings about having been abandoned by both his birth parents. “That was something where he and I had a kind of a common understanding,” she explains, “of what it means to try to figure all that out.” Regarding his mother, Barack “was just very conflicted that she was absent so much,” yet given her resolute independence “he admired her enormously and of course found her irritating.” Obama and Boss also discussed “class and race,” with Boss citing her grandmother’s story to argue the primacy of the former over the latter. Her grandmother had “a royal name,” Regina, despite her humble life circumstances, and Boss made Regina “a prominent part of some very intense conversations concerning the relationship between class and race.” She said Barack talked “about a lot of things that he’s seeing and feeling” with regard to race in the U.S. Boss said she would reply, “Yeah, but my grandmother in Switzerland—you have to see this internationally—my grandmother’s scrubbing those floors, and my mother and her brothers aren’t allowed to go into most of the town. The police will come and get them because they’re in the tourists’ place because they’re just these little local brats as far as the town council was concerned, so class is huge.” Fifteen years later, Obama combined these reprimands into an account of how a woman named “Regina” upbraided him after he responds to her kudos about his skit with cynical sarcasm, saying that it was “a nice, cheap thrill” and nothing more. Regina replies that he had sounded sincere, and when Obama calls her naive, Regina counters that “If anybody’s naive, it’s you” and tells him his real problem: “You always think everything’s about you…. The rally is about you. The speech is about you. The hurt is always your hurt. Well, let me tell you something … It’s not just about you. It’s never just about you. It’s about people who need your help.” In Obama’s telling, that night at the party another friend approaches and recalls the awful messes they had left in the Haines Annex hallway a year earlier for the poor Mexican cleaning ladies, to which Barack manages a weak smile. “Regina” angrily asks Obama why he thinks that’s funny. “That could have been my grandmother,” she said. “She had to clean up behind people for most of her life. I bet the people she worked for thought it was funny too.” In truth, it was not Harris but another African American woman, young American studies professor Arthé Anthony, who had objected when someone mentioned the dorm messes during a conversation in Barack and Hasan’s kitchen. In future years, Obama would embrace the mantra of “It’s not about you” as a core life lesson and as a powerful antidote to what he described as “the constant, crippling fear that I didn’t belong somehow.” He would invoke the story of a cleaning lady “having to clean up after our mess” on subsequent occasions both obscure and prominent, and would cite a friend’s rebuke about her grandmother having cleaned up other people’s messes. With one interviewer, Obama would fuzz the details, saying, “I remember having a conversation with somebody and them saying to me that, you know, ‘It’s not about you, it’s about what you can do for other people.’ And something clicked in my head, and I got real serious after that.” Obama would recite the moral of the story—“It’s not about you. Not everything’s about you”—without naming Harris, Boss, or Anthony. In one rendition, Obama said the rebuke had come from a female professor, but in his written account of that night, he gave Regina the biography of the tall, regal Sarah-Etta Harris. His physical description of Harris was distorted—only her “tinted, oversized glasses” match up to the Harris of 1981—and he says she was brought up in Chicago, not Cleveland, but the other history he attributes to “Regina” is drawn from Harris’s own undergraduate achievements. Most of Obama’s Oxy friends have difficulty remembering Harris, but “Regina” leaves Oxy “on her way to Andalusia to study Spanish Gypsies.” A 1981 Occidental promotional prospectus highlighted Harris’s receipt of a Watson Fellowship and said she “will travel to Hungary, France, Italy and Spain to study the socio-economic problems of sedentary gypsies of those countries.” Obama’s account accurately details the lifelong impact that Harris’s, Boss’s, and Anthony’s rebukes of his self-centeredness had on him, but the “Regina” story merges no fewer than three conversations into one. The same issue of the Oxy newspaper that covered the rally on its front page also featured “Rising Above Oxy Through Columbia.” Junior Karla Olson wrote that a year earlier she had been “stuck in a rut” at Oxy. Deciding that she needed to try another institution, “I tried to pick a college the polar opposite of Oxy” and “within a month I had applied and been accepted as a visiting student to Columbia University in New York City.” Upon arriving there, she had been presented with “Columbia’s catalogue of 2,000 or more available classes,” a stark contrast to tiny Occidental. Olson knew Columbia was “an Ivy League school,” but “I soon realized that I wouldn’t have to work nearly as hard as I do at Oxy.” Olson lived in Greenwich Village, where she had easy access to “museums, art galleries, Broadway, Fifth Avenue, Central Park, clubs, bars, restaurants, and a myriad of other diversions.” It seemed as if “95 percent of Columbia students live off-campus, and most go straight home from class … making it really hard to meet people,” but “my overall experience at Columbia was fantastic…. I learned a lot from my classes and benefited even more from the opportunities New York offered in my spare time.” At Occidental, many if not most students thought about transferring to larger institutions. Eric Moore, who tried unsuccessfully to transfer to Stanford, believed “most people were trying to transfer from Oxy,” and Phil Boerner, Obama’s across-the-hall friend from Haines Annex, “wanted to attend a larger university” and one that was less “like Peyton Place” than Oxy, where “everybody knew who was dating who.” Nineteen-year-old Barack Obama had never even passed through New York City, and he knew no one there aside from Hasan’s friend Sohale Siddiqi, but one day he asked Anne Howells, his literature professor, if she would write a letter of recommendation for him to Columbia University. “He wanted a bigger school and the experience of Manhattan,” Howells recalled years later. “I thought it was a good move for him.” Oxy assistant dean Romelle Rowe remembers Barack discussing a transfer to Columbia and saying he wanted “a bigger environment.” Years later Obama would say he transferred “more for what the city had to offer than for” Columbia, that “the idea of being in New York was very appealing.” Crucial too was how his closest friends were soon leaving Occidental. Hasan and Caroline were graduating in June and both were headed for London, Hasan to join his family’s shipping business and Caroline to study at the London School of Economics. Wahid Hamid, in a dual degree program, was about to shift to Cal Tech. Caroline Boss, with whom Barack spoke most days, agrees that “he did have a lot of us who were graduating,” but “he definitely felt the need to transfer,” and not just because his closest friends were leaving. The biggest factor was Obama’s emerging belief that he ought to make more of himself than he felt able to do at Oxy. When Caroline and Barack discussed their families, he always said “that his father was a chief” of some sort among Kenya’s Luo people and that that lineage represented something he should be proud of, “something to live up to.” A quarter century later, Obama would reflect that if “you don’t have a sense of connection to ancestors … you start feeling adrift and … you start maybe devaluing yourself and internalizing” self-doubts. Pride in one’s roots can offer “a more powerful sense of direction going forward.” Obama’s conversations with Boss gave him his first-ever opportunity, far more so than with any friend from Punahou or even the voluble Hasan, to verbalize his developing thoughts about the kind of person he thought he should try to become. Boss remembers “he basically said, ‘I’ve got to bail. I’ve got to get myself to where it’s cold. I have to be in the library’ ” and someplace where he would have “ ‘access to a black cultural experience that I don’t actually know’ ” and that would “ ‘make me an American and not just this cosmopolitan guy.’ ” As Boss remembers, they “talked about why it was important to be Barack. We talked about why it was important to be a man, and why that meant leaving Oxy because he was just going to hang around being a stupid little boy, smoking cigarettes and … never getting the A that he knows he’s perfectly capable of because you kind of slide.” Obama also realized that the beer drinking, pot smoking, and cocaine snorting that Oxy, like Punahou, offered him, and that had cemented his reputation as “a hard-core party animal” to some friends, was incompatible with any self-transformation into a more serious student and person. Sim Heninger and Bill Snider believed that Obama’s decision to apply to Columbia sprang from a desire for greater self-discipline, and over a quarter century later Obama would remark, “I think part of the attraction of transferring was it’s hard to remake yourself around people who have known you for a long time.” He knew he was at a “dead end” at Oxy and needed a fresh start, that “I need to connect with something bigger than myself.” So when Barack mailed his transfer application sometime just before Oxy’s spring break began on March 20, at bottom he was making “a conscious decision: I want to grow up.” For Oxy’s spring term, Barack, along with scores of other students, enrolled in Lawrence Goldyn’s PS 115, Sexual Politics, which met Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. His old Haines Annex friend Paul Anderson took it too and recalls “many times having to stand in the back because there weren’t any chairs left.” A new regular for the daily conversations in the Cooler was sophomore Alex McNear, who had arrived at Oxy the previous fall as a transfer from Hunter College in New York City, where she lived. By the end of winter term, she and fellow sophomore Tom Grauman had decided to start a literary magazine at Oxy. They announced the launch of Feast in the Oxy newspaper and invited submissions of short stories and poems for spring term. Obama had composed two poems in David James’s winter term creative writing seminar, and he had presented each in class sometime late in the term. One, a twelve-line composition entitled “Underground,” may be no more comprehensible now than it was in 1981: Under water grottos, caverns Filled with apes That eat figs. Stepping on the figs That the apes Eat, they crunch. The apes howl, bare Their fangs, dance, Tumble in the Rushing water, Musty, wet pelts Glistening in the blue. The second, titled “Pop,” made enough of an impression on his listeners in March 1981 that at least two of them still recalled that morning three decades later. Sitting in his seat, a seat broad and broken In, sprinkled with ashes, Pop switches channels, takes another Shot of Seagrams, neat, and asks What to do with me, a green young man Who fails to consider the Flim and flam of the world, since Things have been easy for me; I stare hard at his face, a stare That deflects off his brow; I’m sure he’s unaware of his Dark, watery eyes, that Glance in different directions, And his slow, unwelcome twitches, Fail to pass. I listen, nod, Listen, open, till I cling to his pale, Beige T-shirt, yelling, Yelling in his ears, that hang With heavy lobes, but he’s still telling His joke, so I ask why He’s so unhappy, to which he replies … But I don’t care anymore, ’cause He took too damn long, and from Under my seat, I pull out the Mirror I’ve been saving; I’m laughing, Laughing loud, the blood rushing from his face To mine, as he grows small, A spot in my brain, something That may be squeezed out, like a Watermelon seed between Two fingers. Pop takes another shot, neat, Points out the same amber Stain on his shorts that I’ve got on mine, and Makes me smell his smell, coming From me; he switches channels, recites an old poem He wrote before his mother died, Stands, shouts, and asks For a hug, as I shrink, my Arms barely reaching around His thick, oily neck, and his broad back; ’cause I see my face, framed within Pop’s black-framed glasses And know he’s laughing too. David James can remember Obama “reading that or an early version of that,” and particularly the “amber stain” reference to urine, because of “how powerful an image it was.” But James thought the poem seemed “dispassionate” because it was “neither sentimental nor cruel.” Margot Mifflin, no doubt with “Underground” in mind, noted that Obama’s “previous poems had been more abstract and fanciful,” but “Pop” made a stronger impression because of its “honest ambivalence and because it was so unabashedly personal, especially coming from someone who tended to be reserved.” Mifflin was also impressed that “it wasn’t sentimental. It had an edge of darkness to it, and that made it genuine.” Alex McNear and her colleagues accepted both of Barack’s poems for Feast’s inaugural issue. When the fifty-page magazine arrived on campus in May, a review in the student newspaper described it as a “most outstanding collegiate example of writing talent” and said copies “should be sent to other colleges.” McNear and her contributors appreciated that praise, and over a quarter century later, Feast would be discovered by a new generation of readers who sought to understand Obama’s poems. Given both the title and the reference to “black-framed glasses,” most commentators presumed that Obama had written about his grandfather, Stan Dunham, not Frank Marshall Davis. But hostile critics focused on how the subject “recites an old poem he wrote before his mother died” and noted that Stan’s mother had killed herself when he was eight years old, yet Barack would forcefully reject the Davis hypothesis. “This is about my grandfather.” Alex McNear was one of two Occidental women whom male students immediately remembered three decades later. The list of men who actively sought her attention included 1980 graduate Andy Roth, who was in Eagle Rock through February 1981; Phil Boerner, who invited Alex to brunch multiple times; and Feast cofounder Tom Grauman, who found her “a magnetic force” before shifting his gaze to Caroline Boss. But interest in Alex ranged far wider. One upperclassman imagined she was “the most beautiful lesbian I ever knew,” and Susan Keselenko recalled that “everybody had a crush on Alex.” McNear was unaware of the full degree of interest in her, but she was curious about one fellow sophomore she got to know in the Cooler during spring 1981. To Alex, Barack was “intriguing and interesting and smart and attractive,” and they spoke regularly as the school year wound down. Some friends believed the interest was mutual. “I thought he was pursuing her,” recalled Margot Mifflin, Occidental’s other unforgettable woman. She and the dashing Hasan Chandoo had been a steady couple the entire year, but that did not lessen Margot’s own “magnetism,” Tom Grauman noted. “It’s hard to forget Margot,” said Paul Anderson. “She had a way about her that was captivating.” Chandoo too was a compelling presence. When one classmate compared Hasan to the singer Freddie Mercury, Margot coolly suggested the handsome actor Omar Sharif instead. But perhaps Tom Grauman’s most striking photograph from that spring captures an enchanting Margot addressing a slightly blurred Barack. In contrast, a survey publicized in the student newspaper reported that 32 percent of Oxy women and 17 percent of men admitted that they had never had sex. Oxy’s black students remained politically marginalized despite the almost nonstop efforts of Earl Chew, who by April was trying to get support for a Black Theme House dormitory. Only nine African American students turned out for Ujima’s annual photo, and when a five-page Black Student Directory was distributed during winter term, one perplexed undergraduate sent a letter to the student paper that asked, “Why does the Oxy black community need their own directory; don’t they know who they are?” Whoever compiled it did not know Obama well, because it spelled his given name as “Barrack.” Oxy president Gilman announced there would be no further discussion of divestment, yet the controversy continued to percolate even years later. In May Earl Chew, along with Becky Rivera, ran successfully for top student government positions, but Chew’s close girlfriend from that year later said she had no memory of Barack working with them at all. Instead Barack and Hasan channeled their energies into a newly created Oxy chapter of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador. CISPES had been founded six months earlier to oppose U.S. aid to El Salvador’s military government, whose violent death squads had assassinated Roman Catholic archbishop Oscar Romero while he was offering mass in March 1980. CISPES supported El Salvador’s left-wing opposition, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), whose ties to the Salvadoran Communist Party had led the FBI to investigate CISPES even before Barack and Hasan helped start Oxy’s chapter in early March 1981. One of Barack’s favorite professors, Carlos Alan Egan, had prompted the student interest in El Salvador, and on Saturday, April 18, Barack, Hasan, and Paul Anderson drove to MacArthur Park in L.A.’s Westlake neighborhood for a CISPES event led by actors Ed Asner and Mike Farrell. The short march and ensuing rally attracted a crowd of three thousand as well as counterprotesters from Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. “We were walking around and absorbing it all,” Anderson remembers, and particular enjoyed “exchanging barbs” and “verbally going back and forth” with the hostile Moonies. Scores of banners and signs made for a colorful event. “Long Live the Revolutionary Democratic Front,” an FMLN ally, read one; “U.S. Out of El Salvador” demanded another. With Egan’s assistance, Barack, Paul, and Hasan helped organize a mid-May symposium on El Salvador that drew seven prominent speakers to Oxy, including Sister Patricia Krommer, one of the most prominent U.S. supporters of the Salvadoran left. Several academics, a U.S. State Department officer, and a refugee doctor whom Paul would remember as “actually an El Salvadoran revolutionary” were also on the panel. The event drew a crowd of more than three hundred—a larger number than attended the February divestment rally—and the Oxy paper devoted a front-page photo and a lengthy story to the symposium. Paul recalls several right-wing hecklers showing up, and the student organizers “had to have them extracted.” Multiple off-campus CISPES events took place during late May and early June, with flyers for all of them distributed on the Oxy campus by student CISPES supporters. Hasan also organized a Sunday forum featuring former Pakistani Supreme Court justice Ghulam Safdar Shah, who had opposed the military dictatorship’s execution of former president Bhutto and been forced from office in late 1980, plus prominent politician Afzal Bangash, who had founded Pakistan’s most militant Marxist party in 1968 but was living in exile following Zia-ul-Haq’s 1979 military coup. This event too was a success, attracting an audience of more than two hundred, and Barack and Hasan’s friend Chris Welton wrote a front-page account of it for Oxy’s newspaper. That same week, Oxy students were angered when they learned that the Political Science faculty had refused to reappoint Lawrence Goldyn, the department’s most popular professor. Goldyn denounced the senior faculty’s conduct as “completely unethical and certainly unprofessional,” but he was also aware of the effect he had had on countless Oxy students. Speaking with Susan Keselenko for a long, two-page profile in the year’s final issue of the newspaper, Goldyn said that “frankly I think I’ve probably had as much or more impact on straight people at this school than I have on gay people.” Goldyn believed he had had “a rather profound effect on a lot of people, but there’s no way of measuring that or knowing that,” at least not for years to come. Many students have “studied with me, gotten close to me, and really been supportive of and loyal to me. I can’t tell you how much respect I have for people like this.” Notwithstanding that realization, Goldyn would abandon political science after this and enter medical school, earning his M.D. from Tufts University in 1988 and becoming an internal medicine/HIV specialist in Northern California. Thirty-three years after his dismissal from Oxy, one former student would thank and laud him in one of Washington’s most august settings. Obama’s belief in his potential as a serious writer suffered a painful blow when Tom Grauman told him a short story about driving a car had been voted down for publication in Feast’s second issue on the grounds that it needed more work. Obama was livid. Caroline Boss appreciated how Barack took pride in “his writing and he was trying to hone that as an actual craft,” especially after taking David James’s seminar. But to be told by Grauman that his story had been rejected was more than he could bear. “We had a fairly frank argument about it,” indeed “a shouting match,” Grauman recounted years later. “I just said it wasn’t done,” and “I didn’t want to finish it for him.” Obama “was peeved” and “you could see that his feelings were hurt,” in part because Feast “was a social thing as well as a literary thing,” and “he felt he deserved to be a part of this group.” But Obama had more important things to consider. Sometime before Oxy’s spring term exams ended on June 9, he and Phil Boerner learned they had each been admitted to Columbia University. Boerner’s Oxy GPA was a less than robust 3.25, or a high B, but Columbia College—the men’s undergraduate portion of the larger university that also included all-female Barnard College—had received only 450 transfer applications that spring, and accepted sixty-seven. Columbia admissions officials were unhappy about the quality of those applicants as well as the quantity. Dean Arnold Collery believed they had not attracted stronger applicants because “we’re not housing them,” instead leaving them to fend for themselves in Manhattan’s rental apartment market. Assistant Dean of Admissions Robert Boatti also cited the limited financial aid as well as Columbia’s policy of requiring all transfers to take core courses that other students had completed as freshmen and sophomores. As a result, a majority of transfer students came from the New York area, many from community colleges. Those who had been accepted had GPAs of about 3.0 and combined SAT scores of 1,100, Boatti said, while entering freshmen averaged well over 1,200. Boerner and Obama were excited by their acceptances. Eric Moore heard the news and tried unsuccessfully to persuade Barack to stay at Oxy. Sim Heninger, who had seen so much of “Barry” in Haines Annex almost two years earlier, spoke with him in the Cooler one day at the end of spring term and was struck by how “polished and funny” Barack now was. He had changed “very swiftly,” Sim thought, from the emotionally fragile youngster who had almost come apart in front of Heninger in October 1979. “He was a different person by the time he left,” Heninger said. Kent Goss, who had played basketball with Barry during fall 1979, saw the same thing. “He was different. He was more serious … there was a shift somewhere in those two years.” Alex McNear sensed something similar. “I think he had like a broader vision of something…. He thought there was going to be a different kind of opportunity” at Columbia. Caroline Boss would remember Obama saying “very directly … ‘I don’t know what it is, but I feel I have a destiny, and I feel I have a purpose. I feel I have something that is being asked of me to do; I just don’t know what it is, and I need to … go someplace that challenges me, that forces me to focus and that gives me a sense of direction and personal identity, some kind of avenue to ask myself good questions,’ ” so that “ ‘I will be prepared … I need to be prepared so that if the moment comes, I’m ready for it.’ ” When spring term exams ended on June 9, Hasan and Barack hosted a graduation party for all their friends and friends of friends before everyone left for the summer. Margot and her roommate Dina Silva, plus Dina’s boyfriend Chuck Jensvold, were there. Caroline Boss brought her soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend John Drew, who was spending the summer in D.C. working at Gar Alperovitz’s National Center for Economic Alternatives, just two years after its failure to win a reopening of Youngstown’s Campbell Works. The next Saturday, Barack and Imad Husain went to Paul Carpenter’s family home for his younger brother’s birthday party, and Barack told friends he and Hasan were leaving L.A. the next Thursday, June 18. After stopping in Honolulu to see Stan and Madelyn, they continued westward, with Barack heading to Jakarta to spend a good part of the summer with his mother and sister Maya before meeting up with both Hasan and Wahid Hamid in Karachi, Pakistan. From Pakistan, Obama would fly to France, and then to London, before arriving in New York City for Columbia’s fall semester. Carpenter told Phil Boerner that “knowing O’Bama, he will reach the shores of the ‘empire state’ at the last possible moment if not later.” In Honolulu, Hasan was struck by how “very small” Barack’s grandparents’ apartment was. Madelyn Dunham was pleased to see her grandson and later told an interviewer “he seemed to have gotten some purpose in life during those two years at Occidental.” Barack ran into Keith Kakugawa and his two young sons. Keith remembered that Barack “told me he was leaving Oxy and going to Columbia.” From there, Barack headed to Indonesia. Six months earlier, Ann had left USAID contractor Development Alternatives for a two-year stint as a program officer in the Ford Foundation’s regional office in Jakarta. That job came with a comfortable Ford-owned home at Jalan Daksa I/14 in the lush South Jakarta neighborhood of Kebayoran Baru, a considerable step upward from the two houses Barry had lived in with her when she was married to Lolo. The Ford salary gave Ann enough to send ten-year-old Maya to the Jakarta International School, and Ford appears to have paid for Barack’s summer 1981 plane fares after Ann requested that her educational travel for dependent children benefits be used for that purpose. Ann knew her son needed a place to stay when he arrived in Manhattan in late August, and she heard from a fellow expatriate about an apartment for sublet at 142 West 109th Street, just a few blocks south of Columbia’s campus. Barack spent most of July living with his mother and sister, and he later wrote that he “spent the summer brooding over a misspent youth.” Then he flew to Karachi, where Hasan and Wahid met him at the airport. He stayed for a few days at the Chandoo family’s Karachi home, then for a week or more at Hamid’s before the trio and several relatives set out on a road trip that took them northeastward to Sindh province’s second-largest city, Hyderabad, and then well north to Larkana in interior Sindh. They visited a high school friend of Wahid’s whose famous family, the Talpurs, had played a major role in Sindh’s earlier history and whose feudal lands were still worked by peasants. Barack met one such older man of African ancestry, and traditional hospitality also led to a partridge hunting outing for the visitors. Obama then flew westward from Karachi. How much time he spent in either France or London is unrecorded, and in subsequent years, he did not write about his three weeks in Pakistan nor did he often mention the visit when recounting his life experiences. But no later than August 24, Barack Obama arrived in New York City for the first time, having just turned twenty years old—five years younger than his father had been when he first arrived there twenty-two Augusts earlier. Obama later wrote that he “spent my first night in Manhattan curled up in an alleyway” off Amsterdam Avenue after no one was present at 142 West 109th Street’s apartment 3E when he arrived a little after 10:00 P.M. He did not have enough money for a hotel room, and while he did have Hasan’s friend Sohale Siddiqi’s phone number, Sohale worked nights at a restaurant. After waiting futilely on the building’s front stoop for two hours, he “crawled through a fence” to an alleyway. “I found a dry spot, propped my luggage beneath me, and fell asleep…. In the morning, I woke up to find a white hen pecking at the garbage near my feet.” In the morning, Barack called Sohale, who told him to take a cab to his building on the Upper East Side. Sohale remembered Obama arriving “totally disheveled,” and after breakfast at a nearby coffee shop, Obama crashed on Siddiqi’s couch. Within a day or two, Barack gained access to the two-bedroom apartment on 109th, and he immediately invited Phil Boerner, who was still searching for housing, to share it with him: $180 a month per person. Phil arrived on Saturday, August 29, two days before Columbia’s orientation, and his top priority was retrieving a bed from family friends. Phil and Emmett Bassett, a sixty-year-old African American medical school professor, got the bed to 109th Street on top of Bassett’s station wagon. Phil remembers “Barack and I huffing and puffing up the stairs to get half the bed” up to their third-floor apartment; in contrast, “Emmett just grabbed the mattress with one arm and hauled it up no problem.” The next weekend, Phil and Barack spent Labor Day weekend at the Bassetts’ country home in the Catskills. Phil said later that Emmett “was the most impressive person I’ve ever met,” but years later Bassett could not recall Obama at all. That weekend was a welcome respite from both the sorry state of apartment 3E and the strictures Columbia imposed upon junior transfers. On 109th Street, the downstairs buzzer did not work, forcing visitors to shout their arrival from the sidewalk, as Phil had discovered when he first arrived. The apartment door featured at least five locks, perhaps not a bad idea, as the unit next door was vacant and burned out. The four-room apartment was a railway flat: the front door opened into the kitchen, which led first to Barack’s bedroom, then Phil’s, and lastly their living room. With no interior hallway, there was no privacy whatsoever. The bathroom had a tub, but no shower, and hot water was a rare treat. Hot showers could be taken at Columbia’s gym—phys ed was another requirement—and once the weather turned cold, keeping coats on indoors and taking refuge in sleeping bags could partially compensate for the usually stone cold radiators. Barack had learned to cook one or two chicken dishes from Oxy’s Pakistanis, but in stark contrast to daily life back on Glenarm, Phil and Barack hosted parties only when someone from Oxy like Paul Carpenter and his girlfriend Beth Kahn visited them. Sometime in September, Earl Chew and a friend came to stay for several nights, but “spent most of their time at a porn theater,” Phil remembered. Chew would not complete his senior year at Oxy and next surfaced eleven years later when he was arrested on a charge of attempted murder outside a Santa Monica reggae club. Jailed for six months before being convicted, Chew pled guilty to misdemeanor assault after his initial conviction was overturned. He was last known to have disappeared from an L.A. halfway house in 2007, three decades after his graduation from Philips Exeter and his arrival at Oxy. Registration and the start of classes was not any more welcoming for Barack and Phil than their living conditions on 109th Street. Columbia required them to take a full year of both Humanities and Contemporary Civilization plus a semester apiece of art and music. Two semesters of physical education were reduced to one if you passed a swimming test. A foreign language was mandatory; Barack enrolled in an intermediate Spanish class. In all of those courses his classmates were almost entirely freshmen and sophomores. Additional requirements included two natural science courses plus whatever was necessary for a departmental major. Columbia would accept up to sixty transfer credits from Oxy toward the 124 needed to graduate, and Phil and Barack each met with assistant dean Frank Ayala to determine which of their Oxy courses satisfied Columbia’s many requirements. Tuition was $3,350 per semester, and with other fees, the cost of a full year was $8,620, independent of food, lodging, and books. Obama may have received some financial aid in the form of federal Pell Grant assistance, and he may have taken out a modest amount of student loans. A series of headlines in the Columbia Spectator, the excellent student newspaper, told the story of life for the Columbia undergraduate: “Alienation Is Common for Minority Students,” “Students Label CU Life Depressing,” “Striking Tenants Demand Front-Door Locks.” The second of those stories described “the crime and poverty surrounding the school and the immensity of the university bureaucracy.” One classmate later said, “Columbia was a very isolating place,” and another rued “a culture at the college and in the city that wasn’t exactly nurturing.” Several years later Obama wrote to Boerner, “I am still amazed when I think of what we put up with there” on 109th Street. Living in Manhattan and going to Columbia was nothing at all like that glowing account the Oxy student newspaper had offered up eight months earlier. Luckily there were interesting events to attend. One flyer advertised “A Forum on South Africa—Including the Film The Rising Tide,” with speakers such as David Ndaba, the nom de guerre for Dr. Sam Gulabe, the African National Congress’s representative to the United Nations. Boerner said he and Barack attended that forum, but not a mid-November speech by black Georgia state legislator Julian Bond. The two apartment mates often ate breakfast at Tom’s Restaurant on Broadway at 112th Street, and they sometimes had dinner at nearby Empire Szechuan. Drugs were no part of the depressing scene at 142 W. 109th, but they would go drink beer at the venerable West End bar on Broadway or with Phil’s cousin Peregrine “Pern” Beckman, a Columbia sophomore, at his nearby apartment. To Pern, Phil’s friend seemed “diffident,” a “shy kid who spoke when spoken to” while “nursing a beer.” Looming over their daily lives was how unlivable their dire apartment was, especially as winter closed in. They could let their sublease expire on December 7 and simply remain until fall exams concluded on December 23; given New York’s arcane housing code, they could receive no punishment for that brief time. They began searching without success for a place to live in January. Phil had family friends in Brooklyn Heights where he could stay, but they still had no solution for both of them when Phil left to spend Christmas with his parents at their home in London. Columbia’s winter break extended from Christmas Eve until spring registration on January 20. Obama spent most of that time in Los Angeles, seeing Wahid Hamid and Paul Carpenter and encountering old friends like Alex McNear when he visited Occidental, whose winter term started two weeks before Columbia’s spring semester. Obama returned to New York on January 15 and slept on the floor of a friend named Ron on the Upper East Side while he again searched for an apartment. At registration, Barack ran into Pern, who gave him Phil’s number in Brooklyn, and when Barack called two nights later, he told Phil he had found only a $250-per-month one-person studio just south of 106th Street that he could soon move into as a sublet. On Sunday afternoon, January 24, the day before Columbia’s spring classes began, Barack and Ron went to visit Phil where he was staying, at 11 Cranberry Street in Brooklyn Heights. They drank beer and ate bagels while watching the San Francisco 49ers defeat the Cincinnati Bengals 26–21 in Super Bowl XVI. On Monday Barack was again saddled with Columbia’s core courses and another semester of Spanish. That Friday night, Phil met up with Barack at Columbia; the two then headed downtown on the subway to rendezvous with Ron and his girlfriend at a Lower East Side bar before having dinner at the well-known Odessa restaurant on Avenue A, just across from Tompkins Square Park. Then Barack and Phil headed back to Morningside Heights, and Boerner spent the night on Obama’s floor rather than take the subway back to Brooklyn after midnight. The next Friday Barack and Phil ate an early Chinese dinner before taking the subway to Phil’s place and polishing off a bottle of wine while watching the New Jersey Nets play the Philadelphia 76ers. Barack still occasionally played pickup basketball in Columbia’s Dodge gym; a female graduate student years later remembered him playing pickup soccer on the lawn in front of Columbia’s imposing Butler Library. But Barack’s life during those early months of 1982 was radically different from his daily routine one year earlier. At Oxy, living with Hasan was an almost nonstop party with a band of close friends. Rallies, protests, and political events occurred almost weekly, and the days were filled with energetic debates and conversations in the Cooler. Now, in dreary Morningside Heights, Obama faced a daily schedule of core classes and perhaps a once-a-week meet-up with Phil to have dinner, drink beer, or watch a game. A quarter century later, Obama remembered that time as just “an intense period of study…. I spent a lot of time in the library. I didn’t socialize that much. I was like a monk.” He started keeping a journal, less a diary than a descriptive collection of city scenes and characters that caught his eye. In retrospect, he believed it was an “extremely important” period “when I grew as much as I have ever grown intellectually. But it was a very internal growth,” one that left him “painfully alone and really not focused on anything, except maybe thinking a lot.” He had been “comfortable in my solitude, the safest place I knew.” “It was a pretty grim and humorless time that I went through,” Obama remembered, an “ascetic” and “hermetic existence … I literally went to class, came home, read books, took long walks,” and wrote in his journal. “It’s hard to say what exactly prompted” such a stark change from his attitude toward life both at Oxy and back in Hawaii, Obama told the journalist David Remnick. Yet he gained “a seriousness of purpose that I had lacked before.” Spring exams ended by the middle of May, and sometime soon after that, Obama lost both his studio apartment and his security deposit when the actual leaseholder informed him that his sublet was invalid. Thus sometime in early or mid-summer 1982, Barack moved in with Sohale Siddiqi in a two-bedroom apartment at 339 East 94th Street, just west of First Avenue. Siddiqi managed to score the lease on the $450-a-month sixth-floor walk-up by exaggerating his own income, and though Barack was now living on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, their immediate neighborhood was anything but fashionable. Sohale recalled that it was “a scary street,” with a corner gas station “patrolled by this Doberman Pinscher with a beer bottle in his mouth.” Their own building was “a hovel … the hallways were dingy. Everything was beat up and gray and dimly lit. The front door didn’t lock completely.” Up in 6A, “you would enter through a kitchen, which would lead into a living room on one side and a bathroom on the other.” The wooden floors “were all warped … with big gaps between the planks.” One bedroom “was really a closet with a window.” A friendly footrace was used to determine who got the decent bedroom, and Obama, now a regular runner, won. As on 109th Street, “there was never hot water when you wanted it,” but in contrast the heat was always on, “so we used to have our windows wide open, just to cool down.” Outside Barack’s bedroom window was a fire escape, which Sohale said served as “our balcony.” All in all, it was just “a horrid place.” Siddiqi also witnessed a “transformation” from the “fun-loving … easygoing” Obama he had met eighteen months earlier in South Pasadena to someone who was now “very serious and less lighthearted.” Yet Barack had a stereo and “a huge record collection. Bob Marley was big, Stevie Wonder … also plenty of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Talking Heads, and this group who I had never heard of before … he had at least twelve of their albums,” the Ohio Players. But once Barack arrived on East 94th Street, “I don’t think he bought any more albums … or even played the stereo much.” He did have “to remind me a few times to call him Barack” rather than Barry. Sometime soon after Barack moved in with Sohale, his mother Ann and almost twelve-year-old sister Maya arrived in New York from Jakarta, where Ann still worked for the Ford Foundation. They too were struck by the change in the young man they called “Bar.” Maya later recalled that “he seemed more serious. He seemed more pensive. He was reading a great deal.” She believed “he had started taking himself very seriously” and often appeared to have “wrapped himself in his own solitude.” Obama later wrote that he took a summer job “clearing a construction site on the Upper West Side,” and he also described, in a patronizing manner, his mother’s insistence that they see Black Orpheus, a film she had loved as a high school senior twenty years earlier that was playing at a revival theater. Obama told a subsequent interviewer that during that visit “my mother used to tease me and call me Gandhi” because of his newly ascetic life, but Barack did not deny that he had become “deadly serious during those late college years … People would invite me to parties, and I’d say, ‘What are you talking about? We’ve got a revolution that has to take place.’ ” Andy Roth, who had lived in Oakland after leaving Eagle Rock, moved to Manhattan in the late spring of 1982 and got an apartment on East 95th Street, hardly two blocks from Barack and Sohale. Siddiqi was nowhere near as political as Chandoo, nor as intellectually curious as the new Obama, but when Andy went for dinner at their apartment with several other Pakistanis, he remembered seeing “a portrait of Bhutto on the wall.” The most significant new acquaintance that year was Mir Mahboob Mahmood, known to friends like Sohale, Wahid, and Hasan as “Beenu.” A 1981 graduate of Princeton University, Beenu was working as a paralegal in Manhattan while preparing to attend law school. At Princeton, Beenu had written a one-hundred-plus-page senior thesis on Mohandas Gandhi, and he was hugely influenced by the teaching of political theorist Sheldon Wolin. As Beenu remembered it, he and Barack began an on-and-off program of reading and discussing a half a dozen or so significant books, interrupted partly by Beenu’s one year of graduate study in political science at Johns Hopkins University. Beenu reconstructed their reading list as beginning with John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government (1690), then Albert O. Hirschman’s The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before Its Triumph (1977), followed by Barrington Moore Jr.’s famous The Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World (1966) and E. H. Carr’s The Twenty Years’ Crisis, 1919–1939: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations (1939). At Oxy in 1980–81, Andy Roth had been one of the many men interested in Alex McNear. When Alex returned to her mother’s apartment at 21 East 90th Street in June 1982 to spend the summer taking a theater course at NYU and interning at a publishing company, they got in touch, and whether from Andy or another Oxy friend, Alex got Barack’s phone number and called him. Sometime in midsummer, they had dinner at an Italian restaurant on Lexington Avenue, and although that evening remained chaste, according to Alex, they “started to see a lot of each other” that summer, becoming “really very close.” Alex’s parents had divorced when she was four years old. Her father had remained in Chicago, and her mother, originally from Wisconsin, got a graduate degree from UW–Madison before moving to New York. Her comfortable apartment, with its library of “thousands of books” in a tall building just off Madison Avenue, was a world away from Barack and Sohale’s dismal quarters only eight blocks to the northeast. Alex remembers that apartment as “sparsely decorated” with “very little furniture” and recalls “opening the refrigerator and seeing like virtually nothing in there.” Understandably Alex and Barack “didn’t spend a lot of time there,” and apart from one visit with Phil and a party that also included Andy, they socialized only with each other. After going out to dinner, a museum, or a Broadway play like Athol Fugard’s “Master Harold” … and the Boys, about South African apartheid, “he’d come over, and we’d stay at my apartment.” Barack “did not seem like someone who was at all experienced” or indeed “terribly driven,” but his “shyness” and “lack of experience” matched the novelty of their intimacy for her too. Barack’s senior-year classes at Columbia began on September 8. One entering freshman remembered Obama as a fellow student in his yearlong Contemporary Civilization core course, and a junior political science major recalled chatting with Barack a number of times in a hallway in the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) building before one or another political science class. Barack, Phil, and Phil’s cousin Pern all enrolled in C3207, Modern Fiction, taught by Edward Said, a Palestinian American literary scholar whom Columbia’s student newspaper months earlier had called a “bitter” critic of Israel at “a largely Jewish university.” Said would “come in and ramble on for an hour about who knows what,” Pern remembered. The reading list for the twice-a-week, one-hundred-student class included Joseph Conrad, Franz Kafka, and William Faulkner. Pern thought Said could be “brilliant,” and “when he was focused, he was incredible.” But preparing for class was clearly not one of Said’s priorities, and Phil and Barack did not share Pern’s opinion. “We did not think highly of Said,” Phil recounted. “We thought his class was pretty worthless.” Having settled on political science as his major, Barack had to take a two-semester senior colloquium and seminar in one of the department’s four subfields. Barack’s course credits fit best with international relations, and he and seven fellow seniors ended up in W3811x and y, taught by Michael L. Baron. A young instructor who had completed his Columbia Ph.D. dissertation on U.S. policy toward China after World War II two years earlier, Baron was returning to Columbia after a year of teaching in Beijing. Baron’s dissertation had argued that President Harry S. Truman “was an activist in foreign policy, basing decisions primarily on personal proclivities,” and this course focused on U.S. foreign policy decision-making rather than a particular topical area. The assigned readings during the fall semester analyzed how past important decisions had been made: the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, the fall 1962 Cuban missile crisis, and the escalation of the Vietnam War. Readings included works by Joseph Nye and Ernest May, as well as Irving Janis’s famous 1972 Victims of Groupthink: A Psychological Study of Foreign-Policy Decisions and Fiascoes. Baron recalled that “we definitely focused on groupthink.” Throughout the fall, their focus was historical and practical, not theoretical: “What do you need to do to make a good decision? Which presidents were making good decisions,” first and foremost by “taking advice from people outside the inner circle?” Baron as well as two other students in the small class recall Obama as a standout performer. “He was a very bright student,” Baron said years later, “clearly one of the top one or two students in the class.” One classmate remembered Barack as “a very, very active participant” in class discussions, and another who “didn’t think the seminar was that great” nonetheless was “impressed with Barack…. There was a maturity about what he said and how he said it” that surpassed the comments offered by most if not all of his fellow seniors. One way of satisfying half of Columbia’s science requirement was Elementary Physics, C1001x, taught by Gerald Feinberg, a professor in his late forties who had taught at Columbia for more than twenty years. The catalog described the course as “an introduction to physics for students with no previous background in physics” and stated that “very little mathematics is used.” Indeed, Feinberg’s popular 1977 book, What Is the World Made Of? Atoms, Leptons, Quarks, and Other Tantalizing Particles, which Feinberg assigned that fall, declared, “I am convinced that a substantial comprehension of modern physics can be obtained without advanced mathematical training.” That book, like Feinberg’s syllabus, focused on “the study of atoms and of their subatomic constituents.” It explained quantum theory, the special theory of relativity, and especially particle physics, “the main feature of the physics of the last twenty-five years.” The course was essentially “a history of physics,” Feinberg’s son Jeremy recalled from personal experience, and his dad “called it physics for poets.” In mid-September, Alex McNear left Manhattan to return to Oxy for the fall quarter, and on September 26, Barack sent her a long letter reporting on his first two weeks of classes after receiving a note from her. “I sit in the campus cafe drinking V-8 juice and listening to a badly scratched opera being broadcast. I am taking a break from studying a theoretical analysis of strategic deterrence in the international arena, muddling through concepts like first strike, mutual assured destruction, nuclear payload, and other such elaborated madness. So forgive the dryness and confusion that have undoubtedly rubbed off.” Describing himself as trying to stretch “across as many disciplines as possible,” Obama sounded as if he had sat in on a number of courses while considering which ones to take. “My favorite so far is a physics course for non-mathematicians that I’m taking to fulfill the science requirement. We study electrons, neutrons, quarks, electromagnetic fields and other tantalizing phenomenon under the auspice of a Professor Fienberg [sic]. He embodies every stereotype of a science professor from the bow-tie to the sparse, balding hair combed back and monotonous Midwestern twang. Behind the thick glasses that pinch his nose, one can sense the passion he brings to the topic and the quiet, unobtrusive cockiness you find in scientists, certain that no one knows any more than they do.” Obama’s descriptive sketch of Feinberg confirms the impression that Alex and Phil each had of Barack in 1982: that he wanted very much to become a writer. Presented with that depiction of his father years later, Jeremy Feinberg was impressed: “the physical description … is spot-on” and even Obama’s characterization of his voice was accurate. In Barack’s letter, he then cited what he called “the frustrations of studying men and their frequently dingy institutions” while adding that “the fact that of course the knowledge I absorb in the class facilitates nuclear war prevents a real clean break.” Then he shifted gears. “A steady flow of visitors camped in our living room for two weeks or so, and I had a chance to catch up with friends and play host.” Hasan and his cousin Ahmed were among them, and Barack told Alex that “Hasan will be marrying” soon and taking over the family business. With “old friends receding into the structures pre-conscribed for them,” relationships became “more reserved” and “the idealistic chatter of college is diplomatically ignored.” Barack had also heard from Greg Orme in Oregon, who had a new car, a television, and a hot tub. “I must admit large dollops of envy for both groups, my American friends consuming their life in the comfortable mainstream, foreign friends in the international business world. Caught without a class, a structure, or tradition to support me, in a sense the choice to take a different path is made for me. The only way to assuage my feelings of isolation are to absorb all the traditions, classes, make them mine, me theirs. Taken separately, they’re unacceptable and untenable.” Obama’s statement that he felt isolated was unsurprising given his life over the previous twelve months, nor were his remarks about Hasan and Greg. He did not respond to what Alex had written to him about herself, “since I spent so much of my mental energy with you and now need to refuel” and return to Butler Library. “I trust you know that I miss you, that my concern for you is as wide as the air, my confidence in you as deep as the sea, my love rich and plentiful. Please comfort me with another letter when you get a chance. My regards to everyone. Love, Barack.” A postscript said he was enclosing a New York Times book review from two weeks earlier of Becoming a Heroine by Rachel Brownstein, which he thought would interest her, as well as an excerpt from W. B. Yeats’s 1928 poem The Tower about “a woman won or lost.” He asked Alex, “Who is the ‘woman’ for you?” Back in Butler Library, Barack studied for Gerald Feinberg’s first physics exam on October 12. Students had to answer two out of three questions: “(1) Discuss the present atomic theory of the structure of ordinary matter … (2) Describe the photon theory of light … (3) Discuss how some of the estimates of the number of various subatomic particles … are obtained. Your discussion need not be precise on numbers….” In early November, Columbia’s Coalition for a Free South Africa hosted the prominent white anti-apartheid activist Donald Woods, and Obama may have been among the large crowd. Two weeks later Columbia’s student newspaper published another front-page article reporting how “this is not an easy place to go through as a minority student.” One black senior complained that white students presume the admissions standards for black undergraduates were lower and that “we can’t do the work”; another commented that Columbia’s core curriculum ignored African Americans and “doesn’t prepare you for the real world.” Alex McNear wrote to Barack in mid-November, and he quickly replied. “You speak with force, Alex, calm and confident, and I’m frankly amazed, not by the brimming talent, not by the thoughts in themselves but by the sureness of the words.” Admitting that “mixed in with those feelings are bits and pieces of envy, uncertainty, some intimidation,” he confessed that “the prejudiced, frightened male makes its atavistic appearance.” Writing cryptically about what he termed “the habits and grooves of separate existence,” he declared that “we will talk long and deep, Alex, and see what we can make of all this.” Rereading his letter a quarter century later, McNear noted Obama’s “formalism,” and wondered “were mine very formal” as well? “I just wonder where the tone came from.” Barack also wrote, “I think you may have caught me being a fool in my last letter,” and he referred to a conversation they had had outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “When we spoke in front of the Met, I insisted that I made choices, that I wasn’t kind out of necessity, because it can certainly be argued that I’m compelled by my past to be that way, that no choice is involved … and my insistence arises from my fear of emasculation, that if I can’t be cruel any longer, then I must not be a man.” Citing “the past of my ancestors,” Obama wrote, “I see that in a real sense my gravestone is already planted, the feeble eulogic etchings overgrown with moss, blurred and forgotten.” Barack went on that “this cordoning off of individuals into compartments is something I fight every day,” and said that Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel Mrs. Dalloway expressed his point better than he could. After some musings about birth and death, Barack asserted that “the betrayal lies in separation,” that “we feel betrayed by this act of separation,” and that “because the initial act of separation has traditionally been from the mother, men’s retaliation is indeed towards women.” Alex understood that “he’s clearly enjoying writing: writing it out, toying it out, figuring it out.” Barack continued that “some choose to escape the pain by limiting their interaction with the world. They abstract themselves … which is perhaps the most tolerable option.” He quoted Friedrich Nietzsche’s statement that “in all desire to know there is a drop of cruelty” before acknowledging that “I’m running out of steam and the thoughts are becoming blurred.” Yet he had two points for subsequent discussion: one, “I see that I have been made a man, and physically, in life, I choose to accept that contingency.” Second, “there is a reason why western man has been able to subjugate women and the dark races, Alex; the ideology they present is backed by a very real power. We will speak of this too.” Rereading that passage, McNear observed how “very professorial” Obama sounded. Barack then added, “I’ve never tried to put down so comprehensively my views. They come out muddled and incomplete, and I wish I could explain more fully.” To that, Alex would wonder “maybe … that was as close as he could get to intimacy.” Finally Obama concluded by returning to the real world a month hence, after Columbia’s exams ended. “I arrive in L.A. on December 23rd, and expect to be at Wahid’s apartment that evening. I’ll call you upon arrival … see you then. Love, Barack.” Three or four days after Barack mailed that letter to Alex, Sohale answered their phone on East 94th Street and an unfamiliar, foreign-sounding woman asked for Barack. It was Kezia Obama’s sister Silpa Obonyo, known throughout the family as Aunt Jane, a Nairobi telephone operator able to make international calls. She had just phoned Auma Obama, now a twenty-two-year-old student in Germany and no longer using “Rita,” and her reason for calling Barack was the same as for dialing Heidelberg: Barack Obama Sr. was dead at age forty-eight. He had died in the early-morning hours of Wednesday, November 24, when the vehicle he was driving had gone off Elgon Road and struck a large tree stump. Drunken driving had indeed finally killed him. “The body had to be wedged out of the car,” the Nairobi Times reported. The crash site was in Upper Hill, the Nairobi neighborhood where Obama had been living with twenty-two-year-old Jael Atieno, who six months earlier had given birth to George Hussein Obama. Barack later wrote, “I felt no pain, only the vague sense of an opportunity lost,” and he called his mother in Jakarta, then his uncle Omar Onyango in Massachusetts. A year earlier Barack and his father had corresponded about his visiting Kenya to meet his relatives there once he graduated from Columbia, but now that idea was on hold. The Nairobi paper said Obama Sr. “leaves four wives and several children,” and the eleven years that had passed since he last saw his second-eldest son in Honolulu in 1971 had been no happier than the seven that had preceded it. Soon after Obama returned to Nairobi in early 1972, Ruth divorced him, but she did not take her two sons and actually leave him until later that year after Obama put a knife to her neck and struck the youngest boy, David Opiyo. Unemployed and still drinking heavily, Obama was able to secure a job offer from the World Bank for a post in the Ivory Coast, but when his sister Zeituni took him to the Nairobi airport, government officials turned him away and canceled his passport. “He left the airport crying, angry, and frustrated,” Zeituni recalled. Some months later, in mid-1973, yet another drunken car crash left him with two badly broken legs and a shattered kneecap. Obama remained hospitalized for six months, sometimes “in real pain,” Zeituni remembered. His teenage daughter Auma was repeatedly “sent home from school” due to unpaid fees and bounced checks. She and her older brother Roy, alone without a mother or stepmother after Ruth left with Mark and David, relied upon Zeituni for their survival. She “regularly brought us something to eat,” Auma remembered. Not long after Obama left the hospital, his old Honolulu friend Andy “Pake” Zane and his partner Jane visited Nairobi and were astonished at Obama’s condition. “He was a broken spirit,” just “a shell” of the man Zane and Neil Abercrombie had visited in 1968. “Why do you have a limp?” Zane asked. Obama replied, “They tried to kill me,” asserting that the conspirators behind Tom Mboya’s 1969 assassination tried to rub out a possible witness. “He was very depressed,” Zane remembered, and “he got very drunk and very angry” each night they saw him. By then he had been evicted from the council house at 16A Woodley Estate for nonpayment of rent and had a roof over his head only thanks to his friend Sebastian Peter Okoda, who allowed Obama to join him in his flat at Dolphin Court for more than a year. On November 25, 1975, Obama’s father, Hussein Onyango Obama, died at age eighty. Barack Sr. attended the funeral accompanied by his then-girlfriend, Akinyi Nyaugenya. Sometime soon after, Obama’s old friend Mwai Kibaki, now Kenya’s minister of finance, hired him into a post there. His drinking was as heavy as ever, and colleagues often saw him headed to a bar before noontime. “I can’t stand it anymore. Let’s get a drink.” Once Obama received a large cash travel advance a day before his scheduled departure on a business trip, but before the night was out, he had spent the entire sum treating colleagues, including Okoda, to rounds of drinks at a fancy Nairobi bar. One Kenyan academic who had first met Barack Sr. in the U.S. found his deterioration sad. “Before, he was everyone’s role model. With that big beautiful voice, we all wanted to be like him. Later, everybody was asking what happened.” A younger female government colleague knew that Obama was “disillusioned and discouraged and depressed” but mentioned to him her desire to get a Ph.D. She was astonished at his response: “It’s useless doing a Ph.D. What do you want a Ph.D. for? It’s just academic.” Obama “was very, very strong about that: ‘Don’t do a Ph.D.’ ” By mid-1980, the forty-six-year-old Obama was living with Jael Atieno, a friend of his younger sister Marsat who was the same age as his daughter Auma. Obama had visited Auma in Europe two years before his death, but “I didn’t want to see him,” she recounted. He “appeared broken” and “seemed defeated.” Auma felt “betrayed by my father, blaming him for not holding the family together.” When Aunt Jane telephoned her in November 1982, “I scarcely felt anything for him.” Ruth Baker Obama Ndesandjo had remarried to a stable and reliable man, Simeon Ndesandjo, and in April 1980, she had opened a preschool, the Madari Kindergarten. She learned of Obama’s death from that November 30 newspaper story. “I was not surprised, because he had been heading that way for a long time,” Ruth said. She told her son Mark more than once that his father had been “a brilliant man, but a social failure.” Zeituni Onyango, the person to whom Barack Obama Sr. was closest and who loved him most profoundly, understood more deeply than anyone the immense tragedy and lost promise of his life. Despite Barack’s remarkable intelligence, he had ended up living a “miserable life” that was “ruined by alcohol.” Yet even in his last days, one thing had never changed since his unwilling 1964 return to Nairobi without the Ph.D. from Harvard that had been his dream. Even though almost none of his friends ever heard him mention a son in the U.S., “Barack’s picture was always next to his bed,” according to Zeituni. In later years, the younger Barack’s comments about his father’s death would vary considerably. Sometimes he incorrectly said he began using the name Barack instead of Barry at that time, rather than almost two years earlier. On other occasions, he mused that he had been motivated by his father’s death. “I think it’s at that point where I got disciplined, and I got serious,” but the few people who knew Barack well during his first fifteen months in Manhattan—Phil, Sohale, and Alex—had all witnessed that transformation take hold many months earlier. Obama also later wrote that “my fierce ambitions might have been fueled by my father … by my resentments and anger toward him,” but in 1982 those who knew him well did not see evidence of any fierce ambitions. Obama’s belief that in some ways he had raised himself would not be questioned by anyone from Punahou or Occidental who had noticed the absence of his birth parents in his life, but his most acute and accurate comments about the father he saw for only a few weeks when he was ten years old acknowledged how “I didn’t know him well enough to be angry at him as a father. Mostly I feel a certain sadness for him, and the way that his life ended up unfulfilled, despite his enormous talents.” In time he realized that “I was probably lucky not to have been living in his house as I was growing up.” After Aunt Jane’s telephone call, Barack said little about his father’s death. “I had no clue,” Sohale Siddiqi recalls. “Not a word from” Barack referenced it. “I never heard about his father from him. I would hear about” Stanley Dunham in particular. “He brought up his grandparents plenty,” and Sohale remembers an off-color note Stan had sent his grandson along with a jogger’s wristband, suggesting there were multiple appendages upon which he might wear it. Sometime in early December, Keith Kakugawa was in New York for several days and managed to meet up with Barack for lunch near Columbia and then one night for dinner. Obama told Keith that “his dad had just died in a car wreck.” When Barack arrived in Los Angeles just before Christmas and began seeing Alex McNear almost daily, Alex too remembers him telling her about his father’s death, but, she says, “it was not an emotional telling.” In a letter to Phil Boerner, Obama described his three weeks of winter vacation in Los Angeles. Other than when he was with Alex, Barack stayed with Wahid. He told Phil that his days there were “standard fare—good relaxation with the Paki crowd, dinners with Alex, lunches with Jensvold, tennis with Imad, and pipe tokes with Carpenter. They all seem to be doing well enough and have themselves set up in big cushy apartments. The whole process was like a spiral back in time; nothing had changed except my perceptions, it seemed.” Barack’s close friend Mike Ramos had moved from Honolulu to Orange County six months earlier, and he remembers driving up to Pasadena and eating curry with Barack and the Pakistani trio of Wahid, Imad, and Asad. Other than this unrevealing reference in his letter to Phil, the extent of Barack and Alex’s relationship was kept entirely private, with all of their time together involving just the two of them and not any of Barack’s other friends. “No one really knew that we were having a relationship,” Alex later explained. Barack “seemed to be incapable of bringing a relationship into the rest of his world,” and their quiet dinners often featured long conversations about Alex’s immersion in French literary theory and especially its focus on the concept of difference. “I’m really much more interested in how people are similar,” Alex remembers Barack saying in response to one such discussion. Alex recalls writing in her diary at that time, “I realized how much I loved him, and that he was like my closest friend,” but she also expressed doubts that their relationship could blossom. Barack seemed “very controlling” and “so self-conscious.” On January 17, they had a final dinner before Barack flew back to New York City for his final semester as an undergraduate. Barack was still taking Spanish, and the spring semester of his yearlong political science senior seminar would have fewer class meetings in lieu of students writing a paper due at the end of the term after multiple one-on-one consultations with Michael Baron. But in addition, Barack was able to choose three upper-level elective classes. One was a seminar taught by a young English professor whom Pern Beckman had recommended as a “really cool guy.” Lennard “Len” Davis’s first book, Factual Fictions: The Origins of the English Novel, a revision of his 1976 Columbia Ph.D. dissertation under Edward Said, was just being published by Columbia University Press. The Columbia catalog said Davis’s seminar Ideology and the Novel would examine “the nature of ideology in Marxist and sociological thought.” Theoretical readings included works by Raymond Williams and Louis Althusser as well as Karl Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. Novels to be read started with Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) and moved on to Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South (1855) and Charles Dickens’s Hard Times (1854). Only about twelve students enrolled in the seminar, and years later Davis readily volunteered that “it was definitely a Marxist course.” His purpose, Davis explained, was to make students realize that while any individual novelist “felt free to improvise and create,” nonetheless the surrounding “culture and its ideology would ultimately determine the novelist’s innovations.” Davis devoted a chapter of his new book to analyzing Robinson Crusoe, and in teaching Defoe’s novel, he asked students what “overt ideological statements” they could detect in Robinson Crusoe. An erudite and well-spoken teacher, Davis eventually answered his own question by saying “it’s a philosophy of stasis … you reconcile yourself to the world as it is … in a giant way it is against change … it’s essentially an ideology that reconciles you to middle-class life.” That was one illustration of the overarching argument Davis offered in his book: in those eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English novels, “the novel’s fictionality is a ploy to mask the genuine ideological, reportorial, commentative function of the novel.” At bottom “the inherent confusion in any factual fiction” would give rise to “the later nineteenth-century assumption that literature is a more penetrating depiction of life than life.” Four years later, in his second book, Resisting Novels: Ideology and Fiction, Davis singled out the “particularly wonderful” 1983 seminar on Ideology and the Novel in helping him advance and distill his analysis. A second course Obama took that spring was International Monetary Theory and Policy, taught by Maurice Obstfeld, a young associate professor of economics who had received his Ph.D. at MIT four years earlier. Barack had already taken Intermediate Macroeconomics, and Obstfeld’s class focused on “the evolution of the world monetary system since 1945” and “monetary problems in international trade.” The third upper-level elective he chose was Sociology W3229y, State Socialist Societies, taught by Andrew G. Walder, a brand-new assistant professor in his first year of teaching who had earned his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan in 1981. Walder’s syllabus explained that the course would be “an analysis of state socialism as a system. The primary focus will be on the central features of these societies that distinguish them from others,” i.e., “the core features of state socialism,” and “we will spend most of the term comparing China and the Soviet Union.” Walder recommended that students purchase seven books from which most of the required reading would be drawn, and recommended half a dozen others. The semester began with “The Origins of Russian and Chinese Communism,” and students read Alex Nove’s Stalinism and After, a survey of Soviet political history that focused on how deadly Soviet rule had proven for the regime’s many victims, including the early Bolsheviks. The second major topic was “The Communist Party as an Organization,” and over several weeks students read Elizabeth Pond’s From the Yaroslavsky Station: Russia Perceived, a journalistic work structured around the author’s rich and lengthy Trans-Siberian Railway journey. Prior to Walder’s seven-to-ten-page typed, take-home midterm exam, the class covered “The Communist Party as a Status Group” and “Organized Surveillance and Repression.” Students read Hedrick Smith’s well-known The Russians as well as Jonathan Unger’s new Education Under Mao. Fox Butterfield’s China: Alive in the Bitter Sea, Miklos Haraszti’s A Worker in a Workers’ State, and Roy Medvedev’s Let History Judge were three other titles on the syllabus. The second half of the semester covered topics such as “Bureaucracy, Office-Holding, and Corruption” as well as “Social Stratification and Inequality.” Everyone read David Lane’s The End of Social Inequality? Class, Status and Power Under State Socialism, which argues that “inequality is a characteristic of state-socialist society as it is of the capitalist.” The final assigned reading prior to Walder’s ten-to-twelve-page typed, take-home final exam was Milovan Djilas’s 1957 classic The New Class. Smuggled out of Yugoslavia and published in the U.S. while the author languished in a political prison, the book’s publication was “an immediate sensation,” according to the New York Times. Djilas in the late 1940s had served as Yugoslavian ruler Josip Broz Tito’s personal intermediary to Joseph Stalin, but he was expelled from Yugoslavia’s Communist Party after expressing heretical thoughts. His best-selling book gave voice to those insights. Once a Communist Party “has consolidated its power, party membership means that one belongs to a privileged class. And at the core of the party are the all-powerful exploiters and masters.” Experiencing that in Yugoslavia had transformed Djilas into a democratic socialist. “To the extent that one class, party, or leader stifles criticism completely, or holds absolute power, it or he inevitably falls into an unrealistic, egotistical, and pretentious judgment of reality.” The New Class was a powerful way to end a semester, or indeed to complete one’s undergraduate education. As one student said with some understatement years later, “Walder was anything but a Marxist,” and Walder himself drily observed that what his syllabus presented “was not a flattering portrayal of political and social life in these now-thankfully defunct systems.” Only an extreme control freak would withhold his academic transcripts from public view simply so as to avoid any public discussion of what possible ideological influence either Walder’s impressive reading list or Len Davis’s teaching about the political uses of fiction might have had upon an intellectually hungry twenty-one-year-old mind. Several weeks into that spring semester, Obama wrote another lengthy letter to Alex McNear in Eagle Rock. “I run every other day up at the small indoor track” at Columbia, a bit of news that Barack then spun into a lengthy descriptive portrait of the act of running. “After getting clean, I go to the Greek coffee shop … and have the best bran muffin in New York City—dark and fibrous … and coffee and a glass of water. I light a cigarette, make some talk with the Ethiopian cashier with big murky eyes and the sly smile and a small tattoo on her right hand in foreign code.” Rereading this decades later, McNear wondered whether her letters to Barack “were just as pretentious … equally as convolutedly long and laborious.” Barack wrote, “I enjoyed your letter. I like the way you use words,” and then proceeded to a long disquisition on the concept of resistance against a “bankrupt” and “distorted system…. But people are busy keeping mouths fed and surroundings intact, and it is left to the obsessed ones like us to make the alternatives more tangible … so that resistance and destruction arrive in the form of creation.” He then paused to say “excuse the sermons,” but “I also have thought about us and conclude that I like what we have…. Perhaps what I’ve been after is a correspondence, a union, yes—but never exclusive, cocoon-like, ingrown. Rather something outwards, a point of extension.” With graduation approaching, he had more mundane issues to discuss. “I’ve been sending out letters to development and social services agencies, as well as a few publications, so I should find out in the next few months what I have to work with next year. Classes are the average fare. A class called Novel and Ideology has an interesting reading list covering several of the things we spoke of” when Barack was in Los Angeles. “Of what I’ve read so far I recommend Marxism and Literature by Raymond Williams. A lot of it is simplification, but it generally has a pretty good aim at some Marxist applications of cultural study. Anyway, it might be a good point of departure for further haranguing between us.” Obama then ends the letter, but the next day he added a long postscript that began by mentioning homeless panhandlers he often saw. “I play with words and work pretty patterns in my head, but the hole is dark and deep below, immeasurably deep. Know that it’s always there, rats nibbling at the foundations, and it can set me to tremble.” Then he thought to respond to something Alex had said about T. S. Eliot’s 1922 poem The Waste Land and told her to read Eliot’s 1919 essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent” as well as his Four Quartets. “Remember how I said there’s a certain brand of conservatism I respect more than bourgeois liberalism.” Barack finally concluded by saying, “I can’t mobilize my thoughts right now, so … I leave you to piece together this jumble.” The label “jumble” could also apply to an article Barack submitted to Sundial, a weekly Columbia student newsmagazine. Just prior to its publication, he wrote to Phil Boerner in Arkansas and mentioned he had “been sending out some letters of inquiry to some social service organizations and will also be making up a resume (no comment) soon. I’ve also written an article for the Sundial purely for calculated reasons of beefing up the thing. No keeping your hands clean, eh.” The article, titled “Breaking the War Mentality,” began by asserting that “The more sensitive among us struggle to extrapolate experiences of war from our everyday experience, discussing the latest mortality statistics from Guatemala, sensitizing ourselves to our parents’ wartime memories, or incorporating into our frameworks of reality as depicted by a Mailer or a Coppola. But the taste of war—the sounds and chill, the dead bodies, are remote and far removed. We know that wars have occurred, will occur, are occurring, but bringing such experiences down into our hearts, and taking continual, tangible steps to prevent war, becomes a difficult task.” Following that introduction, Obama cited what he called “the growing threat of war” while profiling the first of two campus antinuclear groups, Arms Race Alternatives. “Generally, the narrow focus of the Freeze movement as well as academic discussions of first versus second strike capabilities, suit the military-industrial interests, as they continue adding to their billion dollar erector sets,” he opined. “One is forced to wonder whether disarmament or arms control issues, severed from economic and political issues, might be another instance of focusing on the symptoms of a problem instead of the disease itself.” Obama also referenced a recently adopted federal law, set to take effect on July 1, that required every male recipient of federal student aid to demonstrate that he had registered for the draft. Some voices were calling for noncompliance, and Obama observed that “an estimated half-million non-registrants can definitely be a powerful signal” that could herald a “future mobilization against the relentless, often silent spread of militarism in the country.” He then described the second campus group, Students Against Militarism. Declaring that “perhaps the essential goodness of humanity is an arguable proposition,” Barack contended that “the most pervasive malady of the collegiate system specifically, and the American experience generally, is that elaborate patterns of knowledge and theory have been disembodied from individual choices and government policy.” He ended by commending both groups, saying that by trying to “enhance the possibility of a decent world, they may help deprive us of a spectacular experience—that of war.” New Yorker editor David Remnick would later characterize Obama’s article as “muddled,” but when it returned to public view twenty-six years after it was first published, it generated astonishingly little discussion of what it said about the political views Obama had held on the cusp of his graduation from college. In his letter to Phil, Barack belittled how “school is just making the same motions, long stretches of numbness punctuated with the occasional insight.” Referencing their disappointing fall semester course, he complained that “Said still didn’t have the grades out for his class until a month into the term, and he cancelled his second term class, so we should feel justified in labelling him a flake.” As he had in his earlier letter to Alex, Barack singled out Davis’s Ideology and the Novel as an “interesting” course, one “where I make cutting remarks to bourgeois English majors and can get away with it.” But overall, “nothing significant, Philip. Life rolls on, and I feel a growing competence and maturity.” After insulting what he called Phil’s “sojourn to Buttfuck, Arkansas,” Barack closed by saying, “Will get back to you when I know my location for next year.” In Boerner’s absence, Barack had been spending time with old Oxy friend Andy Roth, who was working at the John Wiley publishing house. On Friday, April 1, he and Andy attended the first day of the inaugural Socialist Scholars Conference, held at the famous Cooper Union. Roth remembered them both attending an “interesting” talk by sociologist Bogdan Denitch, one of the most committed leaders of Democratic Socialists of America. But rather than attend the conference’s second day, Barack wrote another long letter to Alex McNear. “There are moments of uncertainty in everything that I believe; it’s that very uncertainty that keeps my head alive,” Barack explained. “In pursuit of such hopes, I attended a socialist scholars conference yesterday with Andy. A generally collegiate affair with a lot of vague discourse and bombast. Still, I was pleasantly surprised at the large turnout, and the flashes of insight and seriousness amongst the participants. As I told Andy, one gets the feeling that the stage is being set, that conduits of word and spirit are being layed across diverse minds—feminists, black nationalists, romantics. What remains to be had is a script, a crystallization of events. Until that time a pervasive mood of unreality hangs over such events, a mood that you can see the people fighting against in their eyes, their tone.” A decade later Obama wrote passingly but imprecisely about “the socialist conferences I sometimes attended at Cooper Union.” His erroneous use of the plural gave future critics fodder to imagine that the “impact of these conferences on Obama was immense” and that listening to Denitch and similar speakers had “turned out to be Obama’s life-defining experience,” a notion that his letter the very next day to Alex utterly rebuts. At the outset of that letter, Barack wrote of “churning out assignments” on “state communism” and “the international monetary system” before pausing to reflect on “the wilderness we call life” while smoking and drinking scotch. He reported that he had given his papers to “an elderly woman with a hair-lip and hoarse voice” for typing. This lady was Miss Diane Dee, who was a famous figure around Columbia for decades. A later New York Times profile said “her advertising flyers” are “indigenous to campus walls,” but that her “unkempt hair” and “tired face” made her seem “half-crazed.” One 1983 Columbia graduate believed “she was crazy,” and Gerald Feinberg’s son Jeremy recalled her as “a colorful character—someone I’d expect to appear in a conspiracy theory movie or a Michael Moore film, or both.” Barack told Alex that Miss Dee was someone “upon whom my graduation depends,” and he was starting to panic because she “has missed two deadlines so far and now seems to have disappeared … no one has answered the phone at her apartment for four days.” He worried that “she’s a mad woman who lures unsuspecting undergraduate papers into her home and then burns them, or uses them to line the bottom of the goldfinch cage.” Following his description of the Socialist Scholars Conference, Barack told Alex that a “sense of unreality describes my position of late. I feel sunk in that long corridor between old values, actions, modes of thought, and those that I seek, that I work towards … this ambivalence is acted out in my non-decision as yet about next year” following graduation. Three days after Obama wrote that letter, Columbia’s Coalition for a Free South Africa, in tandem with Students for a Democratic Campus, held a divestment rally outside Low Library, Columbia’s administration building. Student leaders Danny Armstrong and Barbara Ransby had been pressing the issue for months, and the scheduling of a university board of trustees meeting on the fifteenth anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination offered an occasion for an afternoon protest. Barack convinced his largely apolitical apartment mate Sohale Siddiqi to attend the rally with him. But Siddiqi thought that compared to the black New Yorkers Siddiqi knew from the restaurant where he worked, “Barack didn’t seem like one of them.” Obama “was soft-spoken and gentle” and used “clean language.” Indeed, “I didn’t consider him American,” never mind African American. Siddiqi believed Barack “seemed like an international individual.” Siddiqi recalls having witnessed an intensifying change in Barack over the preceding eight months. “He had kind of gone into a bit of a shell and wasn’t as talkative or outgoing as in his earlier days,” Sohale said. When Barack did speak, “he’d give me lectures” about “the plight of the poor” and downtrodden. “He seemed very troubled by it,” and “I would ask him why he was so serious.” Sohale’s interest in drinking, picking up women, and enjoying cocaine held little appeal for the newly abstemious Barack. “He took himself too seriously,” Sohale felt, and “I would find him ponderous and dull and lecturing.” The April 4 rally drew a disappointing crowd of about a hundred, but afterward a core group of about fifteen student coalition members kept up a 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. weekday vigil to highlight Columbia’s refusal to divest. Barack was not among them, and few of Columbia and Barnard’s black undergraduates from 1981 to 1983 have any recollection of Barack Obama. Coalition leader Danny Armstrong said, “I recall seeing Obama on campus” but never interacted with him. Barbara Ransby, a graduate student who managed the coalition’s contact list and chaired most of its meetings, had “utterly no recollection of Obama.” Verna Bigger Myers, president of the Black Students’ Organization (BSO) in 1981–82, remembered that on a campus with so few minority undergraduates, “all the black people see the other black people” even if they did not really know them. Myers’s close friend Janis Hardiman, who a decade later would be Obama’s sister-in-law, remembered Barack as “sort of a phantom who just kind of walked into” BSO meetings but “did not have an active role” or participate in any the group’s activities. Wayne Weddington, a junior in 1982–83, remembers seeing Obama at BSO meetings, and Darwin Malloy, a year ahead of Obama, recalled meeting him in the cafeteria in John Jay Hall but agrees that “most people would only remember him as a familiar face.” Malloy believed his friend Gerrard Bushell “probably had more interaction with him than anyone,” but Bushell said he “would see him periodically” and “remember him by face” but no more. Obama would dramatically exaggerate his involvement in Columbia’s divestment activism on several occasions, telling one interviewer that “I was a leader on these issues both at Occidental and at Columbia.” Talking about his two years there to a second questioner, Obama asserted that “while I was on campus, I was very active in a number of student movements” and particularly “I was very active in the divestment movement on campus.” Several years later, on his first visit to South Africa, Obama declared that “I became deeply involved with the divestment movement” and “I remember meeting with a group of ANC leaders” or at least “ANC members one day in New York City.” There are no contemporary records or other participants’ memories that attest to any such encounter. Columbia’s African American students were also acutely aware that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences included only four black professors. By far the most visible was the handsome, bow-tie-wearing Charles V. Hamilton, best known as the coauthor of Stokely Carmichael’s 1967 book, Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America. Hamilton had arrived at Columbia in 1969, was named to a chaired professorship two years later, and in 1982 was the recipient of the university’s award for excellence in undergraduate teaching. “Everyone knew who Hamilton was,” one 1983 political science major recalled. In addition, as one younger colleague said, “Hamilton was always approachable. The hallway outside his office at the southwest end of the SIPA building was often filled with students.” But, thirty years later, when asked for the first time whether one particular 1983 African American poli sci major had ever taken one of his courses or sought his counsel, Hamilton said, “I didn’t know him at all.” Black history professor Hollis R. Lynch also has no recollection of Obama, nor does the entire roster of senior political science faculty. Even within Obama’s particular area of concentration, international relations, neither Warner Schilling, Roger Hilsman, Zbigniew Brzezinski, nor John G. Ruggie remembers him. “Never laid eyes on him,” Ruggie said. Indeed, apart from young Michael Baron, “nobody really knew him,” one thirty-year veteran of the department reported. Obama would earn an A on the senior paper he wrote for Baron. It analyzed the decision-making during the arms-reductions negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union. But Baron would discard the paper years before the world beyond Morningside Heights would yearn to read it. One week before the end of classes, Obama wrote another long letter to Alex McNear, who had taken leave from Oxy for spring term and was working in Pasadena. Citing “the method of negation” and “comparing what is to what might be,” Barack for a second time referred to something he had said in an earlier letter. Then he referenced their time in L.A. four months earlier: “a young black man” and “a young white woman” “that night in Wahid’s apartment in a timeless reddened room.” He also said his job prospect letters had not produced any firm leads, and that “I feel like forgetting the whole enterprise and taking you with me to Bali or Hawaii to live.” McNear years later recalled no actual invitation, and then Barack’s letter descended into vague declarations. “I am often cruel, and my mind will flash on the screen scenes of violence or petty malevolence or betrayal on my part.” McNear had no idea what he was referencing, and then Barack asked, “am I a blathering chump to you right now, or do you glean some sense from this mess?” Barack continued on similarly, invoking “the necessary illusion that my struggles are the struggles of the first man, the river is the original river … What else? I enjoy my body, even when it frightens or disgusts me … I recall you saying that you still believe the mind is stronger than the body. A dangerous distinction, Alex, a vestige of western thought.” Rereading that passage years later, McNear felt it was “condescending.” Finally leaving his “river” for firmer ground, Barack wrote that it “looks like I will take a two month vacation to Indonesia and Hawaii next month. Will be stopping in L.A. either on the way over or back, if I come back. Will get in touch before I leave … Love, Barack.” Photos from sometime around Columbia’s May 17 commencement show that Stan and Madelyn Dunham made the long trip from Honolulu to New York City to see their grandson, although Barack years later explained that “I actually didn’t go to my own graduation ceremony” since “my parents couldn’t come.” Soon after, Barack flew from New York to Los Angeles, where he stayed for several days with Alex McNear in her apartment. “We had this kind of picnic lunch on the floor of my living room,” Alex recalled. Even with Barack’s invocation of “black man” and “white woman” in his letter, blackness and racial identity “really was not something that he talked about a lot,” she remembered. “It barely ever came up.” Reflecting on that visit years later, “I felt he was less engaged” than he had been four months earlier. She thought there was “an enigmatic quality” to Obama, and “most of this relationship really revolved around these letters,” irrespective of their clarity. Obama then flew to Singapore, where he spent five days with Hasan Chandoo and his family, a visit that coincided with Asad Jumabhoy’s appearance in the championship polo match of the Southeast Asian Games. In a letter to Alex, Barack wrote that Hasan “seemed fine, if more subdued than you remember him.” Barack found Singapore “an incongruous place … slick and modern and ordered, one vast supermarket surrounded by ocean and forest and the poverty of ages. Mostly peopled with businessmen from the states, Japan, Hong Kong as well as various family elites of Southeast Asia.” Hasan, Asad, and Barack went to a discotheque or two, but Barack wrote Alex that he remained largely silent when Hasan talked about the choices he was facing, “primarily to leave a space for our friendship should he move into the business world permanently.” From Singapore, Barack flew to Indonesia and stayed at his mother’s comfortable Ford Foundation home in South Jakarta. Anthropologist friends of Ann’s often stayed there too, and among the guests that summer was a Rutgers University graduate student, Tim Jessup. Ann’s work at Ford had kept her busy throughout 1982 and into 1983. She had written a brief paper entitled “Civil Rights of Working Indonesian Women” and delivered a lecture entitled “The Effects of Industrialization on Women Workers in Indonesia” to the Indonesian Society of Development. In mid-May, she had spent four days in Kenya, of all places, less than six months after her first husband’s death, but Ann never spoke about this trip to friends. When she wrote a long priorities analysis for Ford’s continued work in Indonesia, Ann recommended that they “focus on a relatively new program area, women and employment,” and particularly “the role of poor women as workers and income-earners.” The ideal grantee would be “a non-governmental social action group founded by women for women,” but she rued “the general weakness and lack of leadership within the women’s movement in Indonesia.” As Alice Dewey and a colleague wrote years later about Ann, “Java”—Indonesia’s principal island—“was as much her home”—if not far more—“as Honolulu.” In his letter to Alex, Barack wrote that “my mother and sister are doing well,” but with Ann “the struggling seems out of her, and the colonial residue of her life style—the servants, the shopping at the American supermarket, the office politics of the international agencies—throw up continual contradictions to the professed aims of her work.” Barack was writing not from Jakarta but “from a screened porch somewhere on the northwest tip of Java.” He confessed that “I can’t speak the language” and that Indonesians treated him “with a mixture of puzzlement, deference and scorn because I’m American, my money and my plane ticket back to the U.S. overriding my blackness,” as Obama was now old enough to perceive how many Indonesians loathed his skin color. But he closed by saying, “I feel good, engaged, the mystery of reality, the reality of mystery filling me up.” From that same porch, sitting “in my sarong, sipping strong coffee and drawing on a clove cigarette, watching the heavy dusk close over the paddy terraces of Java,” Obama also wrote a postcard to Phil Boerner. “Very kick back, so far away from the madness. I’m halfway through my vacation, but still feel the tug of that tense existence…. Right now, my plans are uncertain; most probably I will go back” to New York City “after a month or two in Hawaii.” In early July, he and apparently also his almost thirteen-year-old sister Maya flew from Jakarta to Honolulu. Only then did he actually mail his letter to Alex, writing on the back of the envelope that “with the postal system in Indonesia we’d be dead and gone before it arrived.” Barack did not write to Alex again until September 1, and by then, his tone was dramatically cooler, almost palpably angry. Reacting apparently to something Alex had written to him, Barack wrote that “you are correct when you say that initially you were to me nothing more than a lovely wraith I had shaped to fit my needs, and I fought against this and you taught me yourself and I feel I showed progress eagerly, like a repentant student coming home with high marks. All this I have admitted to you in my letters—go back and reread some.” Indeed rereading them three decades later, McNear reacted immediately to Obama’s self-characterization: “student? … They all seem more like the professor,” and that he was writing lectures. She said they are “not romance letters at all.” Then Barack’s tone turned almost hostile, or ugly. “When I see you, the palpitations of the heart don’t boil to the surface,” he told Alex. “I care for you as yourself, nothing less but also nothing more. Does this anger you?” Again, “Does this anger you? When I sit down to write I no longer feel the need to bleed for brilliance on the page.” Years later, McNear does not know why Obama’s attitude had changed so starkly during these two summer months in Honolulu. “Here was someone who I felt that I cared a lot about. I loved him, I enjoyed seeing him,” but his interest in her had somehow waned. “I trust the strength of our relationship enough that I can show myself with rollers in my hair,” Barack wrote before again asking, “Does this anger you, Alex? It shouldn’t. Friends feel weary sometimes. When I said that we will ever want what we can’t have, I missed nothing.” He referenced “the bitterness that plagues my grandparents,” a comment McNear later said contradicted everything else she recalled him saying about them. “I seek something in myself using the clues of this wind, that boy, my mother, your pain, perhaps the world,” Barack wrote, returning to his prior form. “Yes, this requires a monumental arrogance, and of late I feel it whittling away. If my arrogance (which has always been confessed—run back the tapes) angers you, then my last letter, our last meeting, should douse it. It is precisely the arrogance, the sense of destiny, that has been absent. I no longer feel compelled to try to shackle you in my abstruse dreams.” Addressing something Alex apparently had written, “When you doubt my honesty, you give me more credit in the past than I deserve. As though I calculated to deceive you in some way, represented myself as something I didn’t believe I was. You judge me badly; I think I have been as upfront about my doubts and demons as I knew how to be.” Barack’s defensiveness was more than evident. “And when you question my sincerity (a word much abused, like democracy and justice) … you haven’t been listening very well when I spoke of myself.” He closed the letter by saying, “my plans are still uncertain right now” and that he had been “typing up letters to perspective [sic] employers for the last two hours with maniacal tidiness.” But “unless a job of some interest pops up soon, I’ll be flying back to New York at the end of this month” and will stop in Los Angeles. Almost three months would pass before Barack wrote her again. Sometime in the first half of October, Obama left Honolulu for New York. If he stopped in Los Angeles, he did not contact Alex. Arriving in New York, he stayed for one week with Wahid Hamid, who now had a job with Siemens, in a second-floor apartment in suburban Long Island. He then returned to the familiar confines of 339 East 94th Street #6A, where he crashed on the living room couch of Sohale and his new roommate. “I felt a slight longing to move back into the known quantity,” Barack wrote Alex a month later, but “the howling and drinking and haze of my short stay smothered any productive impulses I may have had, so that moving to a new situation came easily.” Obama next found a room in a three-bedroom apartment at 622 West 114th Street #43. He told Alex that out on Long Island he had spent his days “in seclusion sorting through various letters and timetables, spying on the damp, A-frame life of suburbia, wandering along the shoulders of roads” that lacked sidewalks. Wahid was “absorbed with his work” but retains “his integrity and curiosity for the strangeness of life, and I left his apartment certain that our friendship can straddle the divide of our different choices.” His time at Sohale’s had presented “cash flow problems” that had hindered getting his “job hunt in motion” as one week he was unable to pay for postage to mail out résumés, and “the next I have to bounce a check to rent a typewriter.” To remedy that shortcoming, I took a one week stint supervising a project to transfer the files of the Manhattan Fire Department into a new facility, a fascinating experience affording me a taste of the grinding toil of low-rung white collar jobs, as well as the ambivalent relationships established between employers, employees, and personnel agencies with their shifting mix of loyalty, manipulation, abuses of power, rebellion and concession. The workers, an odd assortment of lower income kids, elderly women and unemployed liberal arts majors, struck me as some of the best people I’ve met; as the 12 hour shifts (uh-huh) wore on I watched much subtle straightforward contact being made and greater political perception than I had expected (although rarely framed in political terms). I felt a greater affinity to the blacks and Latinos there (who predictably comprised about three-fourths of the workforce there) than I had felt in a long time, and it strengthened me in some important way. My role as supervisor clouded the relationship between myself and them, however, since I felt that the company was using it as leverage to extract cooperation from the people for sometimes unreasonable demands. I tapped a feeling of community that comes in people acting in concert on a certain process; yet I felt frustrated that the project was imposed from above, structured according to bids and contracts and the bookkeeper, without lasting benefit beyond the pint-sized paychecks for the workers involved. At 622 West 114th, “I occupy a room in the apartment of a woman in her late twenties,” Dawn Reilly, who was “a dance instructor and taxi cab driver. The arrangement is fine for now. The place is large and warm, we see little of each other and when we do we maintain a pretty good patter. I suspect I may move if and when the opportunity for a lease arises, though, simply because the rent is a bit steep, and I feel obliged to keep the kitchen clean and air out the living room when I smoke.” Since salaries in “community organizations are too low to survive on right now … I hope to work in some more conventional capacity for a year, allowing me to store up enough nuts to pursue those interests the next.” He closed by remarking that “I feel lonely yet surefooted, and hope all goes well for you … Get in touch when you get a chance, or impulse. Love, Barack.” A month earlier, Alex had begun seeing a new young man, and she believes she did not reply. Six months would pass before she next contacted Obama. Within days of mailing that letter, Barack saw a posting at the career office of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs for a job at Business International Corporation, an international finance information and research firm founded in 1956 that published numerous analytical and data service periodicals from its offices on the seventh floor of One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, on the west side of Second Avenue between 47th and 48th Streets in midtown Manhattan. The job had been posted by BI’s Cathy Lazere, a 1974 graduate of Yale who had earned an M.B.A. at New York University before joining BI’s Global Finance Division eight months earlier, in February 1983. Lazere was responsible for a bimonthly newsletter entitled Financing Foreign Operations—Interest Rate & Foreign Exchange Rate Updater, a four- or five-page publication that cost $900 to subscribe to annually but helped BI pull in a tidy profit as one of a bundle of services that major corporations purchased through individual client programs. In November Lazere was being promoted by division vice president Lou Celi to oversee both FFO and its sister reference publication, Investing, Licensing & Trading (ILT), which was edited by Beth Noymer, a 1983 graduate of Franklin & Marshall College who had joined BI just four months earlier. Lazere had a roommate at Yale who was from Hawaii and had graduated from Punahou, so when a résumé arrived listing that as well as Columbia, Lazere invited him for an interview. Obama impressed her as “articulate and bright,” and knowing he had attended Punahou, “I assumed he came from a privileged background.” Cathy introduced Barack to Beth Noymer and telephoned Lou Celi to get his approval before offering Barack the position. Obama’s salary would be about $18,500—a respectable sum for a newly minted B.A. in 1983—and he would be expected to write for the finance unit’s flagship newsletter, Business International Money Report (BIMR), as well as to do the research and copyediting necessary to churn out each issue of FFO. A few years later Barack would tell a questioner that he took the job at BI because “I wanted to know how money worked.” More than three dozen correspondents all around the world submitted the data and material that Lou Celi’s unit sliced and diced to produce their multiple publications. FFO’s content, as its title made clear, was both arcane and impenetrable. Celi’s top deputy and sidekick, Barry Rutizer, had started out at BI doing FFO, and he said, “I couldn’t even read it when I was editing it.” Cathy Lazere agreed. “I was certainly bored when I was editing that stuff.” At the time of Obama’s arrival, issues of FFO consisted of lengthy country-by-country lists of exchange rates accompanied by brief comments and a summary table of “Foreign Exchange Rates of Major Currencies.” Barack had his own office, but the composition and production of BI’s publications took place on a central word processing system that relied upon Wang terminals scattered around the office rather than individually assigned. As a result “we sort of duked it out over Wang time,” Beth Noymer said, with almost everyone regularly moving around the roughly sixty-person office. “The Wangs were a big part of our lives,” Celi’s assistant Lisa Shachtman Hennessey recalled, and “every ten minutes” someone seemed to call out from the bullpen area that “the Wangs are down.” Smoking was more than allowed—“there were ashtrays everywhere,” Lisa remembered—and Obama regularly smoked Marlboros while editing manuscript copy by hand. “There was almost no way to get all your work done between nine and five,” Beth explained, especially on days when the final content had to be sent down to the print shop that BI veteran Peggy Mendelow oversaw in the building’s basement. Much of BI’s information gathering required telephoning various midlevel officials at corporations and banks. When calls were returned, BI’s switchboard operator announced the call over an office-wide paging system if someone was not at their desk. Brenda Vinson, an African American woman in her late thirties, worked in the library and often covered the switchboard. Obama was the first black college graduate to work at BI, and his unfamiliar first name was a challenge to pronounce. Vinson remembers Barack as “very personable” toward her and her cousin, who were BI’s only other black employees; a Puerto Rican father and son staffed BI’s mailroom. There was a good bit of socializing among the young professionals who worked at BI. A nearby Irish pub was one regular destination, and Beth Noymer later described BI’s office culture as “a hotbed of young singles.” Obama did not socialize with his BI workmates, but sometime prior to New Year’s Eve, his friend Andy Roth invited him to a party that Andy’s brother Jon was hosting in their sixth-floor apartment at 240 East 13th Street. Jon worked at Chanticleer Press, a publisher that helped produce National Audubon Society guides, and other invitees included Genevieve Cook, a twenty-five-year-old Swarthmore College graduate who had worked at Chanticleer before beginning coursework toward a master’s degree in early childhood education at Bank Street College of Education. She was born in 1958 to parents who were Australian: Helen Ibbitson, the daughter of a Melbourne banker, and Michael J. Cook, a conservative diplomat who would go on to head up Australia’s top intelligence agency before serving for four years as ambassador to the United States. Her parents had divorced when Genevieve was ten years old, and Helen then married Philip C. Jessup Jr., an American lawyer and executive whose International Nickel Company post had him and Helen living in Jakarta during the 1970s. Genevieve attended multiple boarding schools in the U.S. before graduating from the Emma Willard School near Albany, New York. While she was at Swarthmore, her mother and stepfather Phil had moved from Jakarta to New York, and by late 1983 Genevieve was temporarily living in their spacious apartment on Park Avenue just below 90th Street after breaking up with a Swarthmore boyfriend with whom she had lived in Manhattan’s East Village while student teaching that year at the Brooklyn Friends School. Her four years at Swarthmore were the first time Genevieve attended the same school for more than two years, and it was her first time in one country for more than three straight. “At Swarthmore, I was very drawn to … the drug oriented counterculture” and “its ritualized pot smoking,” she wrote in her impressive 1981 senior anthropology thesis, “Dancing in Doorways.” For the thesis, she interviewed fifteen fellow students who were also the children of expatriates, “people who spent their lives from the time they were born moving around from country to country, who are not members of any one culture, who come from nowhere in particular, and who do not really belong anywhere. You will always know them when you meet them.” At the Roth brothers’ party, Genevieve did know one when she met one. She and Obama struck up a conversation that lasted several hours after they discovered their mutual ties to Indonesia and expatriate similarities. “I remember being very engaged, and just talking nonstop,” she later wrote. “We both had this feeling of how bizarre and exciting it was that we’d both grown up in Indonesia, and we felt we very much had a worldview in common.” Barack was in no way aggressive. “If anything, he struck me as diffident … although also at ease with himself” and “clearly interested in pursuing this conversation with me.” She found him “just really interesting, intellectually,” and she later reflected that “the thing that connected us is that we both came from nowhere—we really didn’t belong.” Before the night was out, he handed her a small scrap of paper—“Barack Obama 866-8172 622 W. 114th #43”—that she still retains thirty years later. After a phone call the next week, she agreed to meet him at his apartment for dinner, where Barack cooked for the two of them. “Then we went and talked in his bedroom. And then I spent the night. It all felt very inevitable,” she wrote in a private memoir. That evening stood in sharp contrast to Genevieve’s rejection of a dinner host seven months earlier. That spring she had taken a course at Bank Street that involved having the students share recipes with their classmates. Three decades later Genevieve still had the “Floating Island Pudding” she shared as well as “Zayd’s Catsup,” a contribution from a thirty-seven-year-old classmate. At the end of the semester, that classmate invited her to dinner at his apartment at 520 West 123rd Street #5W. Five-year-old Zayd and his two-year-old brother Malik were asleep, as was Chesa, another almost two-year-old member of the household, whose mother and father were both in prison. Genevieve was initially surprised that the only food her host had for dinner was grapes, but it quickly became clear what he wanted for dessert. He explained that he was in an open relationship; he and his partner had been leading figures a decade earlier in a group whose slogans included “Smash Monogamy!” His partner was not coming home that night; indeed she was residing involuntarily at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan, where she would remain for another six months. “He gave getting me into bed quite a good go,” Genevieve recalled, but with a thirteen-year age difference between them, he “seemed awfully old to me!” Her host “was quite miffed that I was not impressed by his ‘status’ ” as a notorious former radical, albeit one whose FBI “Wanted” poster made him appear to have just fallen out of bed rather than striving to get into one. He “backed off when I wasn’t interested,” and Genevieve’s rebuff may have had a greater impact than she realized. Four months later a federal judge gave her host’s partner a weekend furlough so the two former anti-monogamy advocates could marry, and two months after that, the judge allowed her to return to 520 West 123rd Street on a Christmas furlough. Four days after New Year’s, the judge granted a motion to vacate the contempt citation that had kept Bernardine Dohrn jailed since May 19, and she was free to remain with her two sons and now husband, Bill Ayers. As Genevieve would pluperfectly capture the essence of the story, sometimes indeed the “truth is so much stranger than fiction!” On Monday, January 9, Genevieve spent a second night with Barack on 114th Street, and the next day wrote in her journal, “I have not experienced the kind of intellectual stimulation Barack offers me since I left college.” She expressed similar feelings in a letter she wrote to him but did not mail, a letter she still had three decades later. “You are the first person I’ve met since being in college who has in some way engaged me in a process of self-intellectual questioning. It is a shock to recognize that my engagement with Bank St., education, friends I’ve made through Bank St. & teaching & the kind of process I’ve touted, of teaching forcing you to be self-evaluative, has all been ‘professional.’ ” Over the next four weeks, Genevieve continued to record in her journal her reactions to Barack. Intercourse was pleasant, and in bed “he neither came off as experienced or inexperienced,” she later recalled. “Sexually he really wasn’t very imaginative, but he was comfortable. He was no kind of shrinking ‘Can’t handle it. This is invasive’ or ‘I’m timid’ in any way; he was quite earthy.” In one late January entry, she wondered “how is he so old already, at the age of 22?” and she wrote two poems for Barack, one teasing him by way of implicit comparison to the mythical Orion. The second, alphabetical in form, progressed from “B. That’s for you” to “F’s for all the fucking that we do” to “L I love you … O is too.” Obama spoke excitedly about Genevieve during one phone conversation with Hasan Chandoo in London, yet in a “rather mumbled” one with his mother Ann in Jakarta he made no mention of Genevieve but talked about BI. “Barry,” as Ann called him in a letter to Alice Dewey, “is working in New York this year, saving his pennies so he can travel next year … he works for a consulting organization that writes reports on request about social, political and economic conditions in third world countries. He calls it ‘working for the enemy’ because some of the reports are written for commercial firms that want to invest in those countries. He seems to be learning a lot about the realities of international finance and politics, however, and I think that information will stand him in good stead in the future.” With Genevieve, Barack spoke of BI “only to be disparaging” and only “very rarely” did he speak about his actual five-days-a-week work tasks. “His entire attitude was bearing a necessary burden” and one he was deeply uncomfortable with. “Even just putting on the clothes to go to work in that environment was a political divide—it divided him from how he really saw himself,” she later explained. “He definitely wore it like a penance.” On weekday evenings, Barack’s posture was “They’re the enemy, and I’ve just spent all day at work” but also that “I’m above being emotionally affected by my job.” His coworkers at BI quickly picked up on Barack’s emotional distance. Cathy Lazere, his immediate supervisor, noted his “aloofness.” “He came across as someone not interested in other people,” she said. Beth Noymer, his closest colleague, said he was “quiet and kind of kept to himself.” To vice president Lou Celi, Barack came across as “shy and withdrawn” and “always seemed aloof.” Lou’s deputy Barry Rutizer thought Obama “was kind of self-involved” and “somewhat withdrawn.” Lou’s assistant Lisa Shachtman remembered Barack as someone who was “sitting back and observing” others rather than interacting with them. BIMR editor Dan Armstrong recalled that Obama “really just kind of kept to himself” and “never joined us” when everyone went out after work. Dan thought “diffident” was the perfect adjective, and in Peggy Mendelow’s memories Obama “had an obvious ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on him.” Years later one colleague would describe Barack as “the whitest black guy I’ve ever met.” Barack’s life with Genevieve on 114th Street, where she came on Thursdays after a class at Bank Street as well as on weekends, was a separate world from his workday week. In mid-February, Genevieve recorded that Barack the night before had “talked of drawing a circle around the tender in him—protecting the ability to feel innocence and spring born—I think he also fights against showing it to others, to me.” The next day, Presidents’ Day, she recorded her worries about her “unwillingness to believe that he really does like the time spent with me, that he likes me.” Alluding to BI, it “makes me cross that he’s sitting there in that office while all the others take the day off—too soon to scorn the blatant taking advantage of the least powerful on the totem pole—but I hope he will soon find a way to make it clear he sees limits to what can be thrust on him—the loose ends, the overtime.” Her thoughts returned to their weekend together. “It means so much more than lust, after all, all this fucking we do.” Four days later, after Thursday night together, she wrote of “making love with Barack, so warm and flowing and soft but deep—relaxed and loving—opening up more.” But Genevieve had her own self-doubts. “It’s all too interior, always in his bedroom without clothes on [or] reading papers in the living room. I’m willing to sit and wait too much.” Barack did go out to Long Island one weekend to see Wahid, who had now married his longtime girlfriend Ferial “Filly” Adamjee, yet with Genevieve their time together was interior indeed. She worried “that what men reach for and stay with is the availability to them of a warm time in bed, while they put up with or dismiss the ‘noise’ women ‘indulge’ themselves in.” While “the sexual warmth is definitely there … the rest of it has sharp edges, and I’m finding it all unsettling and finding myself wanting to withdraw from it all. I have to admit that I am feeling anger at him for some reason, multi-stranded reasons. His warmth can be deceptive, tho he speaks sweet words and can be open and trusting, there is also that coolness … Both of us wary … and that is tiring.” The next weekend found a return to warmth, with Genevieve pleased by Barack’s compliments, “his saying ‘You’re sweet to me,’ that I’m kind, as if he’s not accustomed to that, has not had much of that.” One evening at dinner, Genevieve recorded, she had an image “of being with Barack, 20 years hence, as he falters through politics and the external/internal struggle lived out.” One week later, with Genevieve experiencing a bout of tearful self-pity, “Barack said he used to cry a lot when he was 15—feeling sorry for himself.” Fifteen would have been his tenth-grade year at Punahou, when Barack was closest to Keith Kakugawa, but Genevieve was happy that he “won’t let important things go unspoken. ‘Speak to me.’ ” Yet more often Genevieve felt a self-distancing on Barack’s part, “a sense of you biding your time and drawing others’ cards out of their hands for careful inspection—without giving too much of your own away—played with a good poker face. And as you say, it’s not a question of intent on your part—or deliberate withholding—you feel accessible, and you are, in disarming ways. But I feel that you carefully filter everything in your mind and heart … there’s something also there of smoothed veneer, of guardedness … I’m still left with this feeling of … a bit of a wall—the veil.” In early March, Genevieve moved from her parents’ Park Avenue apartment to a top-floor, two-bedroom apartment in a Park Slope brownstone at 640 2nd Street that was owned by relatives of a Brooklyn Friends School secretary. One mid-March morning, she telephoned West 114th Street and for a moment mistook the voice of the third roommate, Michael Isbell, for Barack. Michael’s firm “I’m good” in response to Genevieve’s “How are you?” made her realize “that Barack often doesn’t feel firmly good.” Barack and Genevieve saw even less of Michael than they did of Dawn Reilly, whom they mostly interacted with on Sunday mornings. Michael worked in advertising, had a full-time girlfriend, and remembered Barack as a quiet, studious smoker. Michael did not get along with Dawn as well as Barack did, and Genevieve believed Dawn “had this kind of motherly attitude towards” Barack, even though she was just five years older. Genevieve remembers Dawn as “a vivacious character … very fond of Barack” and “she thought we were a very cute couple. She saw enough of us that she was very aware when things were good” and also when “things got a little bit strained.” Genevieve recalled that in mid-March, Dawn told her, “ ‘I feel more tension between you two’ ” and said she believed Genevieve was good for Barack, whom she thought was confused about what he wanted. To herself that day Genevieve wrote, “I’m a little worried about Barack. He seems young and defenseless these days.” Barack intrigued Genevieve greatly, but there is “so much going on beneath the surface, out of reach. Guarded, controlled,” she wrote to herself. Genevieve took the initiative to buy them tickets to a one-woman performance of three short plays by Samuel Beckett at his namesake theater on West 42nd Street. In the last of them, Rockaby, actress Billie Whitelaw onstage uttered just one word, “more.” In between her four increasingly fearful incantations of that one syllable, the audience heard “the tortured final thrashings of a consciousness, as recorded by the actress on tape.” At its close, the audience experienced “relief” as “death becomes … a happy ending,” New York Times critic Frank Rich wrote, saying it was “riveting theater … that no theatergoer will soon forget.” In her journal, Genevieve wrote that “Billie Whitelaw was superb.” At the end of March, Hasan Chandoo arrived in New York to prepare for his move from London to Brooklyn in early summer. The 1984 Democratic presidential race was in full swing, and on Wednesday evening, March 28, top contenders Walter Mondale and Gary Hart were joined by third-place contestant Jesse Jackson for an intense televised debate from Columbia’s Low Library, moderated by CBS’s Dan Rather. By that time Obama was actively interested in Jackson’s campaign, and the next Saturday, March 31, he persuaded Hasan, Beenu Mahmood, now in his first year at Columbia Law School, and even Sohale, to join him in attending a Jackson campaign rally on 125th Street in central Harlem. Three days later, Jackson finished a strong third in the New York primary with over 25 percent of the vote, including presumably Barack’s. Both Hasan and Beenu also remember that spring and summer that Barack often carried with him a well-worn copy of Ralph Ellison’s famous 1952 novel Invisible Man, which he was reading and rereading. Beenu believed that “Invisible Man became a prism for his self-reflection,” and in retrospect Beenu thought that over time “Ellison assisted Barack in reaching a fork in his life.” But that fork was more than a year away. Later that night, Barack and Genevieve joined Hasan and Sohale at the latter’s East 94th Street apartment, where Barack had lived a year earlier. “Long time friends, easy with each other but also challenging,” Genevieve wrote in her journal the next day. Everyone “did several lines of cocaine, which added an edge to it all.” For Barack, the almost three years that had passed since he lived with Hasan in South Pasadena in 1980–81 had been almost entirely drug-free, certainly when compared to that year at Oxy and indeed the three previous as well. His twelve months living with Sohale in 1982–83 had seen plenty of “partying” by Siddiqi, but only with Hasan’s incipient move to New York would Barack feel compelled, on account of their friendship, to reengage in something that without Hasan he felt no need to seek out. He was seriously involved with a woman who smoked pot daily, but except when they were at parties with Hasan, Sohale, and Imad, Barack and Genevieve did not partake of such pursuits. Before the end of that weekend, Barack told Genevieve that “I really care very much about you” and that “No matter how things turn out between us, I always will.” She wrote in her journal that he talked to her as well about his “tendency to be always the observer, how to effect change, wanting to get past his antipathy to working at BI.” A week later “Barack talked of his adolescent image of the perfect, ideal woman—searching for her at the expense of hooking up with available girls.” Presently she imagined him “opting for dirtying his hands in the contradictions and overwhelming complexities this city offers” and resolved that “I must enjoy Barack while I can.” Recounting a scene Barack had described to her, “The image of Barack shaking his grandpa by the shoulders and asking ‘Why are you so damn unhappy?’ really struck me.” In early April, Barack received a call from Alex McNear, who was still living in Eagle Rock, and soon after, he sent her a long letter, one that portrayed his role at BI somewhat differently from how his coworkers and Genevieve did. “I’ve emerged as one of the ‘promising young men’ of Business International, with everyone slapping my back and praising my work. There is the possibility that they offer the job of Managing Editor for one of the publications, which would involve a hefty raise, but an extended stay,” Barack asserted. “The style and substance of what I write” was such that “I can churn out the crap without much effort” yet “the finished product confronts me as an alien being, not threatening, but a part of another system, another sensibility.” Barack’s description of some of his interactions with colleagues beggared belief. “Without effort, I find I can perform with flawless grace, patching up their insecurities, smoothing over ruffles among the co-workers.” Yet he described his own attitude with considerable accuracy. “All of them, including my superiors, sense some sort of tethered fury, or something set aside, below the calm surface … so that I remain somewhat alien to them.” Indeed “the implacable manner is not an act, nor is the anger underneath,” but Barack acknowledged that his colleagues “are good people, warm and intelligent.” He told Alex, “I’ve cultivated strong bonds with the black women and their children in the company, who work as librarians, receptionists,” and reported that the only other black men “one sees are teenage messengers.” Barack admitted “the resistance I wage does wear me down—because of the position, the best I can hope for is a draw, since I have no vehicle or forum to try to change things. For this reason, I can’t stay very much longer than a year. Thankfully, I don’t yet feel like the job has dulled my senses or done irreparable damage to my values, although it has stalled their growth.” But, “like other malcontents, I have my other life as opposed to my working life … weeknights I spend a few hours writing, a few hours eating, and take occasional walks along the river. I recently finished the first fiction piece I’ve attempted in over a year, and I got some good feelings doing it, even though it’s not top quality. I still have a certain ambivalence towards writing/art as a vocation.” As for “my political reading/spectating—my ideas aren’t as crystalized as they were while in school, but they have an immediacy and weight that may be more useful if and when I’m less observer and more participant. On weekends I see Sohale, Wahid et al. fairly frequently and let myself slip back into old comfortable activities like bullshitting and watching basketball,” though to Alex, Barack made no mention of his reintroduction to cocaine. He confessed that “I’ve also become quite close to an Australian woman who teaches in a Brooklyn grade school. She doesn’t put up with a lot of my guff, and has a good sense of humor without any cynicism, which is a good tonic for my occasional attitude problems.” Obama ended the letter by saying “look forward to seeing you in the summer if you choose to come back East. Love, Barack.” The divergence between how Obama described his interactions with his BI colleagues and how they viewed him was great indeed. Eugene Chang, one of the two editors of the finance unit’s lead newsletter, Business International Money Report, made an effort to get to know Obama, inviting him to lunch at a Korean restaurant and mentioning how he jogged. Barack’s responses were chilly and abrupt: “I don’t jog, I run.” Susan Arterian, a decade older than Obama, thought “there was a certain hauteur about him and a somewhat cultivated aura of mystery.” To her, “BI was a friendly place” with lots of “wonderfully quirky characters,” and Eugene’s BIMR coeditor, Dan Armstrong, saw Barack as “reserved and distant towards all of his coworkers,” notwithstanding how BI was “not a corporate place in any way.” Bill Millar, a 1983 graduate of CUNY’s Baruch College, found Obama “arrogant and condescending,” someone who “treated me like something less than an equal” even though Millar was a higher-ranking assistant editor. Millar once argued with Barack about corporations that did business in South Africa, and another colleague, Tom Ehrbar, recalled Barack quarreling about the CIA with another coworker who did not remember the exchange. As Peggy Mendelow described Barack, he “kept very much to himself” and “didn’t seem to want to be there.” Barack was far more interested in old friends than in making new ones. Genevieve described “Barack’s face opening up in a broad grin after talking with Bobby [Titcomb] on the phone in Honolulu.” She also described their sexual interactions positively: “really communicating instead of merely getting off.” At the end of April, Genevieve wrote, “I’m falling in love with Barack…. Spent Sunday with Barack in the park.” They saw a boy in a sandbox “with his Superman cape on, and I launched into some kind of spiel about kids and imagination and fantasy, and he launched into this thing about superheroes and was revealing about some relationship he had to superheroes, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, that’s fascinating, I’ve never heard him come out with that before,’ and I pounced on it and wanted to really like push an exploration of it” but Barack gently rebuffed her. At the end of April, old Oxy friend Sim Heninger came through New York and stayed with Phil Boerner, who was just about to finish his degree at Columbia. One evening, Sim, Phil, and Phil’s girlfriend Karen had dinner with Barack and Genevieve. Sim in particular was struck by the seriousness of their romantic attachment. Early in May, however, Genevieve detected a “deliberate distancing” on Barack’s part and wrote, “I think I am probably being rejected more for what I represent in Barack’s mind than for who I am.” She imagined that Barack would be more comfortable with a black woman, and she wrote in her journal, “I think I’ve known all along that he plots this into his life as something temporary—not open-ended as he had said.” She wondered if they were just “using each other,” yet understanding what was going on was difficult, because “he is so wary, wary. Has visions of his life, but in a hiatus as to their implementation—wants to fly, and hasn’t yet started to take off.” Within a week their relationship had righted itself, although Genevieve was feeling “depressed about teaching” as the school year was ending. “It so delights me that from time to time, Barack will talk about the more private, inner aspects of what he sees and feels of our relationship.” In late May, Barack told her one night “of having pushed his mother away over the past 2 years in an effort to extract himself from the role of supporting man in her life—she feels rejected and has withdrawn somewhat.” By then he knew his mother and sister were moving back to Honolulu in mid-August. Ann had learned in February that her Ford Foundation post would expire in six months. She had resolved to make the best of that by returning to her long unfinished Ph.D. at the University of Hawaii, a move that would allow soon-to-be fourteen-year-old Maya to begin ninth grade at Punahou. Ann wrote the chairman of UH’s Anthropology Department to say that “the major reason” for her long absence from the program had been “the need to work to put my son through college,” and with his graduation, “I’m now free to complete my own studies.” Once classes ended at Brooklyn Friends School, Genevieve left New York to spend a week at her stepfather’s family’s estate in Norfolk, Connecticut. She dreaded the next school year, when she would be teaching first grade at PS 133 in Park Slope. “I’m feeling really bad about myself in general,” she wrote in her journal, and by phone Barack sought to reassure her. By early June, Hasan Chandoo had an apartment at the Eagle Warehouse building on Old Fulton Street underneath the Brooklyn Bridge, and both there and at Sohale’s apartment on East 94th Street, Barack and Genevieve joined some assortment of the Pakistani friends almost every weekend. If Wahid came into the city, or if Beenu and his girlfriend Chinan were present, drinks and dinner would be the centerpiece of an evening. But with Hasan, Sohale, and Imad, pot and cocaine were usually involved, though Barack’s ambivalence about those activities was crystal clear to Genevieve and obvious to Hasan too. Sometimes Barack would beg off, but most times he asked Genevieve to come along—“We’ll go together,” he would say—knowing that one or both of them would try to leave before the evening got too late or the activities got too “out of control and manic,” as Genevieve described it. For all her pot smoking, Genevieve did not care for cocaine, yet Barack “didn’t like it when I said ‘Well I’m going to leave now’ or ‘I don’t feel like coming’ ” because “that made it harder for him to ignore the fact that he didn’t really want to go either, that he would have rather stayed home and read.” But Barack’s bond with Hasan was stronger than his self-discipline, and Genevieve thought “it seemed important to Barack that I bolster him in his desire to maintain allegiance to the guys.” To her, Barack’s indulgence “was definitely out of loyalty and an inability to kind of give the flick to people who had been so incredibly loyal and embracing” of “this lost boy, who had no group, who had no community, and they knew him from before,” from Oxy, “and embraced him warmly.” Hasan was “absolutely” the driving force, not Sohale or Imad, and while that trio was “doing lots of cocaine,” Barack “did not do as much as they did.” Indeed, Barack did “a lot less of everything, like for every five lines that somebody did, he would have done half, and for every scotch that Hasan poured, he would have had one out of every ten compared to what Hasan was drinking.” In a more understated voice, Hasan agreed with Genevieve. “We dabbled in drugs,” but with Barack “there wasn’t anything excessive by him, by my standards.” As of that 1984 summer, Obama was “much more serious” than the college sophomore Hasan had lived with three years earlier, and at times Barack “would tell me to go easy on my drinking or my smoking pot, and I’m saying ‘What a change!’ ” Genevieve recognized a tension between Barack’s loyalty to his Pakistani friends and his emerging realization that “somehow splitting himself off from people is necessary to his feeling of following some chosen route which basically remains undefined.” She continued to worry about “veils and lids and control,” but Genevieve enjoyed being “cosseted in Barack’s apartment” on weekend nights before returning to her Brooklyn apartment and a new roommate whose presence she found irritating. Genevieve found her intimate time with Barack special and uplifting, but she was sometimes troubled by his behavior toward the Pakistanis, writing one night that “the abruptness and apparent lack of warmth with which Barack left them was jarring.” A few days later Hasan and Barack had dinner at Genevieve’s apartment, and she remained fascinated with Barack’s deeper, preoccupying thoughts. He talked about Ernest Hemingway “and the integrity of grasping for those times, those visions that are ones of true magnificence and profundity,” but “when Barack speaks of missing the signs of some central, centered connection with the powerful maelstroms of deep feeling, grand scopes, I have responded with comments such as ‘Maybe you need not to look for them at such dizzying heights, but on other levels.’ ” In mid-July, Genevieve took offense at “all the artifice in his manner,” but a large Saturday-night dinner at Hasan’s that included his cousin Ahmed, Beenu and his sister Tahir, and Wahid and his wife Filly left Genevieve impressed with Filly’s intelligence and independence. Yet Genevieve’s persistent self-doubts continued to trouble her feelings about Barack. “How long will it take him to see that I am silly and insecure and inarticulate in a way he will find repulsive rather than acceptable?” she wrote in her journal. A trio of cheap photo booth pictures the couple took of themselves that summer shows Genevieve looking exceptionally energized, striking, and happy, and a somewhat full-faced Barack looking pleased and happy as well. On the first Sunday in August, Genevieve challenged him to a footrace in Prospect Park near her apartment. Barack greeted the challenge with gently mocking bemusement, but then, to his utter amazement and chagrin, Genevieve won, demonstrating that he had seriously underestimated her. “Barack couldn’t really believe it and continued to feel a bit unsettled by it all weekend” as they showered and then went to see a new film, James Ivory’s The Bostonians, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Christopher Reeve. “Being beaten by a woman,” especially when Barack prided himself on his almost daily running, “really unsettled him,” Genevieve recalled. Genevieve believed that Barack’s running was motivated by unpleasant memories of having been a chubby boy in his pre-basketball years. “There was still quite a bit of ‘I was a fat boy’ feeling lurking underneath his resolve to be so disciplined with the running. He was very trim, except for a bit of pudgy tummy,” which “he couldn’t get rid of” and “was quite self-conscious about,” she remembered. “That’s why he ran,” to “get rid of that last little bit of being a pudgy boy.” That did not hinder what she described as “passionate sex,” and after a week apart when Genevieve went to London, she returned to find Barack troubled after having been told by his African sister Auma, who hoped to visit New York in November, about a rumor that their father may have been murdered rather than killed by his own drunken driving. Barack and Auma had become irregular correspondents following Obama Sr.’s November 1982 death, and either just before or just after this latest word from Auma, Barack had a memorable dream about his father that he shared with Genevieve, who had also “grown up without my dad.” But now he also told her that a month earlier he had cried when he saw television news coverage of a mass murder that claimed the lives of twenty-one people at a fast-food restaurant near San Diego. “Interesting that he was connecting the two,” Genevieve wrote in her journal, “when in fact the tears he cries are, I’m sure, buried tears over his dad, and the loss over all the years without him. He was very subdued” for the balance of that weekend. To Genevieve, who was “constantly looking for an explanation for this wary guardedness” she so often felt from Barack, the answer lay in how “he was not in touch with how deeply wounded he was by his mother’s and his father’s relationships with him.” In her mind, Barack’s “woundedness” and “abandoned child persona” meant “the amount of suppression of negative emotion is just heroic” and explained why “there was a ‘no go’ zone very, very quickly” whenever talk about deep personal feelings threatened to undermine all of that successful suppression. In late August, Alex McNear called Barack to say she would be arriving in New York on August 23. The two of them had dinner that night, although years later Alex would have no memory at all of that evening. Genevieve was not looking forward to the start of her school year at PS 133, but in her journal she again wrote, “I love him very much.” Obama met up with Mike Ramos for a beer one night when Mike came to New York for the first of two training events for his job at a large accounting firm. Barack talked about quitting his job at BI so he could do something more rewarding, and Mike, impressed with his friend’s courage, ended up crashing at 114th Street rather than making it back to his hotel. Either during that visit or when Mike returned to New York just before Halloween, they had dinner one night with Genevieve, whose unusual name Mike would remember years later. Early in the fall, Phil Boerner, Barack, and another old Oxy friend, Paul Herrmannsfeldt, who was working at a publishing house, started a book discussion group at Paul’s seventh-floor apartment in Soho. Their first selection was Samuel Beckett’s 1938 novel Murphy, and Phil’s girlfriend Karen plus several friends of friends attended two or three subsequent meetings, but the group petered out within two months. Barack also attended a reading by several writers at the West End bar on Broadway just south of 114th Street that his apartment mate Michael organized just prior to moving out, but his attempt to interest Michael in his own work failed. As Phil later said, they all found Barack “an interesting yet unremarkable person,” a young man whom some saw as “a bit smug” but whom no one imagined would ever be seen as an exceptional individual. At BI Barack’s colleagues felt similarly. In early fall, Lou Celi and Cathy Lazere launched a new series of “Financial Action Reports” that required updating BI’s data on companies’ cash management strategies in particular foreign countries, with new information gleaned from interviews with corporate treasurers. The first two countries were Mexico and Brazil, and Obama and the slightly more senior Michael Williams were given a task that Williams remembered as “my least favorite project” at BI. About twenty treasurers had to be contacted either by phone or in person in New York, and the thirty-minute interviews had to be transcribed. Williams and Obama each took half, and though Williams recalled transcribing his own tapes, Lou’s assistant Lisa got newly arrived editorial assistant Jeanne Reynolds to transcribe at least one of Obama’s more difficult ones. Williams remembered Barack as someone who “kept to himself,” spoke only when necessary, and never seemed “fully engaged.” That was atypical indeed at “a very friendly place” with “a pretty hip crowd” that offered great opportunities for advancement “if you wanted them.” Jeanne Reynolds recalled Barack as “quiet, reserved, polite,” and Barack’s copy editor on the Mexico and Brazil reports, newly arrived Maria Stathis, would likewise remember him as “very quiet.” Another new arrival, Gary Seidman, remembered Barack teaching him to use the Telex machine that was cheaper than the telephone for international communication. Barack seemed “aloof,” a stark contrast to his “vibrant” coworker Beth Noymer. When Obama gave Cathy Lazere formal notice one day in November that he was quitting effective early December, Cathy mused that “it must have been a little lonely for him to work at a place for a year and not be fully engaged in the world around him.” A few days earlier, his sister Auma called from Nairobi to say she was canceling her New York trip because their younger brother David Opiyo had just been killed in a motorcycle crash at age sixteen. That news may have strengthened Barack’s resolve to leave a job he found so foreign to his political views, and although he told Cathy “he wanted to be a community organizer because he didn’t find business that meaningful,” he also was leaving BI without a new job in hand. Cathy, Gary Seidman, and the young man Cathy interviewed and then hired as Barack’s replacement, Brent Feigenbaum, all had the impression that Barack was considering law school in addition to community organizing. In Barack’s exit interview, Lou Celi told him, as he told everyone leaving BI, that he was making a big career mistake, and when Barack told editor Dan Armstrong he did not yet have a new job, Dan asked, “Are you crazy?” He also told Barack he at least should “get another job before you quit.” In Armstrong’s memory, Barack simply shrugged. Feigenbaum spent one day working alongside Barack and recalled him as “remote … not a terribly warm person.” Beth Noymer’s monthly calendar for December 1984 would show “Barack lunch” on Friday the fourteenth, but neither she nor Cathy nor anyone else had any memories of a farewell meal. Asked two decades later what he recalled from his time at BI, Barack answered “the coldness of capitalism.” He told an earlier questioner, “I did that for one year to the day,” a clear indicator of his desire to leave that world for something he found more fulfilling. But giving up his BI paycheck meant leaving the apartment on West 114th Street, and on the weekend of December 1 and 2, Barack temporarily moved in with Genevieve on the top floor of 640 2nd Street in Park Slope. Earlier in the fall, they had taken the bus to her family’s estate in Norfolk, Connecticut, where they slept in an open-air cottage and joined Genevieve’s mother and stepfather for one meal. Barack later recounted paddling a canoe on a nearby pond, and a photo shows a happy and relaxed young couple outdoors in the morning sun. Their first week together in Genevieve’s cramped quarters produced minor irritations, but a nice weekend then included seeing the Eddie Murphy film Beverly Hills Cop in downtown Brooklyn. Genevieve was the only white person in the audience, but she says she and Barack never experienced any hostility or rudeness toward them as an interracial couple. In the days just before Barack left to spend the holidays in Honolulu, their feelings of being in each other’s way multiplied, with Barack saying, “I know it’s irritating to have me here,” and telling Genevieve that she was being “impatient and domineering.” But they exchanged Christmas gifts, with Barack embarrassed when Genevieve bought an expensive white Aran cable-knit wool sweater for him at Saks Fifth Avenue. When he asked her what she wanted, Genevieve suggested lingerie, which she says “threw him into an absolute tailspin” before he returned with something that Genevieve privately thought was “incredibly tame.” A week before Christmas, Obama flew to Honolulu, and he spent much of his time in transit reading a book by Studs Terkel, most likely his newly published The Good War: An Oral History of World War II. On New Year’s Day, he wrote to Genevieve that “my trip has progressed without any notable events” but that “I was foolish to think that I’d have the time or energy to work on my writing” in Hawaii because “reacquainting myself with the family has proven to be a fulltime job … they all have used me as a sounding board for all sorts of conflicts and emotions that have previously stayed below the surface…. I’ve been the catalyst for tears, confessions, ruminations, and accusations.” Genevieve had never met any of Barack’s family, but he offered her sketches of them all. “My mother is as I last saw her, gregarious and sensitive, although she’s undergoing some difficult changes after uprooting herself from Indonesia” to live in a visibly humble cinder-block apartment building at 1512 Spreckels Street, where she and fourteen-year-old Maya shared the two-bedroom unit 402, less than a block from Maya’s ninth-grade classrooms at Punahou. “My grandfather,” Barack went on, now age sixty-six and retired, “appears immutable. He looks more robust than ever, even while eating donuts, smoking a cigarette, and drinking whiskey simultaneously. My grandmother is doing less well—she continues to drink herself into oblivion,” indeed “incoherence,” when not working. “Her unhappiness saddens me deeply…. It may be my helplessness in the face of her problem that angers me more than the problem itself. But she retires next year, and if the fortitude she’s channeled exclusively into her work can’t be transferred into the remainder of her life, not much life will remain.” With Maya, “I watch with joy her development into a fine person,” but being back in the all too familiar tenth-floor apartment at 1617 South Beretania meant that “ghosts of myself and others in my past lurk around every corner.” Obama wrote that his relatives all “think I’m too somber…. My mother explains that I was normal until 14, from there went directly to 35.” Stan joked that Barack is “as mean to himself as he is to everyone else. The only difference is he likes it.” But Obama was clearly discomforted by this return to his childhood surroundings. “I have trouble fitting into these Island Ways,” he told Genevieve. Within blocks were “the apartment house where I was conceived … the hospital where I was born … and the school where I spent a third of my life.” But nonetheless “I’m displaced here, it’s not where I belong—sometimes I think my only home is on the road towards expectations, leaving what’s known, complete, behind. I no longer find that condition romantic—at times I resent it deeply—but I accept it.” That sentence was as self-revealing as any Obama had ever written, but the contrast between “the incredible isolation of people here” in far-off Hawaii and “the nervous energy or self-consciousness you find in New York” was discombobulating. “My contradictory feeling for Hawaii reflects itself in my relationship with Bobby, who embodies the beauty and limitations of the place. He’s making a comfortable living running a concession at a local high-school, and supplements his income with cash from a few big cocaine deals he was involved with last year”—an aspect of a best friend’s life that was unobjectionable only if you viewed cocaine use itself as unremarkable. Obama observed that Titcomb “jokes about his appetite for food and women, exhibiting a charm and flair in everything he does, but a sustained commitment or depth in nothing.” But Barack added, “He loves me and I love him, but he senses different priorities in me now,” though “I admire and envy his easy manner and fluid grace.” One day the two old friends went scuba diving two miles off Oahu, fifty feet down. On another, Ann’s mentor Alice Dewey “argued in husky tones with me and a few other of my mother’s friends over politics, sexual relations, art and the economy.” Only “after five hours and four cups of coffee” did Barack drive her home. Alluding most likely to how they had met exactly one year earlier, Barack asked Genevieve, “How did you spend New Year’s Eve? Mine was not as eventful as the last one.” He told her he was flying back to New York on January 22 and would likely stay with Hasan and his cousin Ahmed at the Eagle Warehouse apartment “until I find a place. I confess to a fear of failing to find a useful gig for myself upon my return, but have no thoughts of doing anything else. I expect the transition may be tough on me,” as his prior attempts to obtain a politically satisfying job had failed, “but I expect you to have some patience with my foolishness and kick me when I get out of line. I miss you very much, and hope your enthusiasm for school stays high.” He signed off “Love, Barack.” The same day Barack wrote that letter to Genevieve, his mother Ann privately recorded her own plans for the New Year. Many of her jottings concerned the multiple debts she owed her parents, including $1,764 per semester for Maya’s Punahou tuition, and $175 for an airplane ticket for “Barry.” The “$4,846 withdrawn from account by Toot” was later updated with “$3,940 repaid 2/6/85.” A long numerical “People List” began with Maya as #1, Ann’s Indonesian lover Adi Sasono #2, “Bar” #3, her parents #s 4 and 5, and included former brother-in-law Omar Obama as #175. The “Long Range Goals” she listed on New Year’s Day began “1. Finish Ph.D. 2. 60K 3. In shape 4. Remarry 5. Another culture 6. House + land 7. Pay off debts (taxes) 8. Memoirs of Indon. 9. Spir. develop (ilmu batin) 10. Raise Maya well 11. Continuing constructive dialogue w/ Barry.” Once Obama returned on January 22, Genevieve was disappointed that having him back in her daily life was “so disruptive, instead of a sweet re-meeting.” Given how challenging teaching first grade at PS 133 was, “I actually find his interruption of my focus on school as damaging, disconcerting,” but “he’s really into travelling his path with concentrated determination as well. It is still true that I want to live alone.” Obama later wrote of refusing the offer of a well-paid job from an impressive black man who headed a New York City civil rights group and had recently dined at the White House with “Jack,” the secretary of housing and urban development. Arthur H. Barnes headed up the New York Urban Coalition, but African American New Yorker Samuel R. Pierce was HUD secretary; only four years later did Jack Kemp succeed him. Instead Obama focused on a job ad from the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), for its Project Coordinator post at the City College of New York (CCNY) in West Harlem. NYPIRG, founded in 1973, was based on a campus chapter model first outlined in Action for a Change. A Student’s Manual for Public Interest Organizing, a 1971 book written by famous consumer advocate Ralph Nader and three coauthors, one of whom, Donald K. Ross, became NYPIRG’s initial executive director. By 1985 NYPIRG had chapters at most campuses of New York State’s two public college systems, the predominantly white State University of New York (SUNY) and the largely minority City University of New York (CUNY). Campus referenda that authorized a $2-per-student-per-semester fee provided NYPIRG’s financial base. The project coordinator post paid only about $9,200, half of what Barack had been making at BI, and the CCNY job was open at midyear because of the departure of a young woman whose fall tenure had been unsuccessful. Yet the CCNY chapter boasted one of NYPIRG’s most experienced student leaders, Buffalo native Diana Mitsu Klos, who had moved to New York City eighteen months earlier upon being elected NYPIRG’s student board chair for the 1983–84 academic year. NYPIRG’s campus projects statewide were overseen by Chris Meyer, and 1983 Yale graduate Eileen Hershenov supervised CCNY and other Manhattan chapters from NYPIRG’s tumbledown office at 9 Murray Street in lower Manhattan. On some day in late January or early February, Obama appeared there for a job interview with Hershenov and Meyer, who were “enormously impressed” with him, particularly since NYPIRG was “desperate to diversify” its predominantly white staff, especially at such a heavily minority campus as CCNY. Obama’s hiring was all but immediate, as CCNY’s spring semester classes began on Monday, February 4. Eileen accompanied him up to City and introduced him to Diana Klos and seven or eight other core chapter members, including Alison Kelley, who thought Obama was “very poised, very together” right from day one. The NYPIRG chapter had a small office with desks and a telephone in a homely metal trailer known as the Math Hut that sat between CCNY’s iconic Shepard Hall and the college’s low-rise administration building south of 140th Street on the east side of Convent Avenue, just across from the North Academic Center (NAC), a hulking modern gray-brick behemoth that housed City’s humanities and social science departments. The key to NYPIRG’s student recruitment efforts was “class raps,” where the project coordinator would ask faculty members to give up five minutes of class time so that students could hear a brief pitch about NYPIRG. As of February 1985, NYPIRG’s top statewide issue was its Toxic Victims Access to Justice Campaign, which sought passage of state legislation that would allow women and their offspring who had been harmed by the synthetic estrogen DES to file civil damage suits. New York was one of only seven states where such a right to sue did not exist, and generating citizen pressure on state legislators was a major focus of Hershenov and her colleagues’ work. Barack and Diana were present in NYPIRG’s trailer office every day, and throughout February they concentrated on doing as many “class raps” as possible in advance of a late February “general interest meeting” intended to attract several hundred students. In some departments, like African American Studies, where senior professors like Leonard Jeffries Jr. and Eugenia “Sister” Bain were notorious for showing up late, if at all, for many scheduled classes, getting “class rap” time was easy. In others, like Political Science, Barack’s efforts met with mixed success. Frances Fox Piven, who taught Politics and the Welfare State, and Ned Schneier, whose Congress and the Legislative Process also met on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, both said yes. A young associate professor teaching civil rights and civil liberties would have been less amenable, replying that it was inappropriate to sacrifice classroom time for nonacademic matters. Like all CUNY colleges, CCNY was entirely a commuter campus, and one with “nowhere to hang out anywhere near there,” as Alison Kelley recalled, so generating student participation in such a setting was a considerable challenge. Eileen Hershenov pitched in at least one day a week, and every Friday Obama joined project coordinators from NYPIRG’s ten other southern New York schools for an afternoon staff meeting at 9 Murray Street. NYPIRG had an active relationship with Saul Alinsky’s inheritors at the Industrial Areas Foundation, and one Friday Michael Gecan, one of IAF’s four top organizers, spoke to the group and also spoke individually with Obama. Eileen Hershenov was Barack’s closest staff colleague, and they had several conversations about different models of organizing. She had read Clayborne Carson’s 1981 history of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), In Struggle, and could remember even two decades later at least one conversation with Obama about SNCC’s Mississippi grassroots organizing, which Bob Moses came to personify. “It was a very abstract intellectual conversation that I had with him,” she recalled, one that contrasted SNCC’s approach versus charismatic leaders, but all toward the end of “how do you empower people?” Even with his full-time weekday job up at CCNY, Obama spent all of February and early March splitting his time between Hasan’s apartment below the Brooklyn Bridge and Genevieve’s top-floor apartment in Park Slope, quite a commute on New York’s far from reliable subways. “Who is this boy/man/person, Barack Obama?” Genevieve wrote in her journal in early February. “We communicate, we make love, we talk, we laugh. I insulted him the other night—a retaliatory ‘fuck you’ ” for his complaining about Genevieve “always wimping out on dinners with the gang” or saying “You stay, I’m leaving” as a night drew on. “Both of us feeling dissatisfied, wanting something more—but he from himself, and me from the pair of us…. I don’t really know or understand how he feels, privately, about me, us,” given his “veiled withholding.” The next day she wrote that “since I’ve known him, he has not yet developed a concrete sense of direction,” and in retrospect Genevieve remembered that Barack “came back from Hawaii definitely exuding impatience and frustration and dissatisfaction with the life he was leading.” She was increasingly stressed by her teaching and by the shared space at 640 2nd Street. In mid-March her unhappiness led Barack to remark, “You like to make trouble.” When that led to tears, Genevieve wrote that her own emotional insecurity “all relates back to my father, and his ‘abandonment’ of me and wanting desperately to have someone love me like a father.” But she also believed that “all of this insecurity” is “a product of the conversation” she and Barack had had “about living together,” coupled with all of the “distance on his part.” Before the end of March, Genevieve found a better apartment at 481 Warren Street #4A in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill neighborhood. Obama was still in touch with Oxy friends Phil Boerner and Andy Roth, and by early 1985 Andy was living with musician friend Keith Patchel in an informal sublet at 350 West 48th Street in Manhattan’s rough Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. Patchel had left for Sweden at the first of the year to work on a record with his friend Richard Lloyd, a member of the underground band Television, and in March Andy was headed to Managua, Nicaragua, for more than two months. Apartment 4E had been home to the grandparents of neighbor Nick Martakis, a friend of Television’s manager, and Keith and Andy simply paid Nick $200 or $250 a month in cash—“there was no lease” and “everything was on the down-low,” Keith explained. “Keith and I were expected to keep a low profile,” Andy remembered, and even incoming mail had to be addressed “c/o Martakis.” The building was “decrepit,” a step down even from Sohale’s apartment on East 94th Street, but it was relatively spacious. It was also a shorter subway trip to CCNY in West Harlem, and on Sunday, March 31, Barack moved in there, while continuing to spend each weekend at Genevieve’s Warren Street apartment in Brooklyn. Two visitors whom Barack had met two years earlier in Jakarta—his mother Ann’s anthropologist friends Pete Vayda and Tim Jessup—came for dinner one weekend. Tim was Genevieve’s older stepbrother—the son of her stepfather, Phil Jessup. Barack did not say much to Genevieve about his NYPIRG work, and he never introduced her to any staff or students: “that compartmentalizing thing,” she later remarked. Genevieve continued to wrestle with her own issues, and in mid-April wrote in her journal, “I am making a commitment here and now to stop smoking pot. I must. Because I am debilitating myself.” Genevieve’s ongoing anxieties about teaching were always close to the surface. One mid-April weekend Genevieve told Barack that the older teachers at PS 133 had said, “Just stick in there. Nobody has a good first year, and the pension’s really good.” That pension reference so offended Barack he almost yelled in response. “It just really set him off. I had never seen him so upset,” Genevieve recounted. “He was almost thumping the table he was so upset—the idea that you would sell out for security” made him “so angry.” The next weekend Genevieve and Barack walked from Boerum Hill into Brooklyn Heights, and by Sunday afternoon, he was “acting a tad hostile. When he talks of enjoying being alone, I wonder that he so regularly attends this weekend pattern of ours,” she recorded. On Wednesday, May 1, the CCNY chapter of NYPIRG held a demonstration at Broadway and 137th Street to protest the abysmal condition of that IRT #1 line station. This was part of NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign for better subway service across the city. The next day a noontime rally outside NAC drew attention to how the NYPIRG chapter, in tandem with CCNY’s student government, had gathered more than a thousand handwritten letters to members of Congress opposing the Reagan administration’s proposed budget cuts for Pell Grants and guaranteed student loans in the pending Higher Education Reauthorization Act. That weekend Barack and Genevieve went to Hasan’s apartment on Saturday night and got “high on coke,” she recorded in her journal. On Sunday Barack sat around her Warren Street apartment reading the New York Times and watching basketball. As he left that evening, Barack “said he felt strained,” and then told Genevieve, “This apartment is alien to me,” a comment she found hurtful. “Barack is discovering the ennui of life being uneventful and unfulfilling and not knowing where to look for the source of it,” she wrote. In retrospect she thought he was “depressed” and “not really talking that much.” She sensed “a great deal of disappointment and more emotional involvement” with his NYPIRG job than at BI. Barack’s inability to distance himself from his job as he had at BI made him “significantly more troubled by what was going on at work.” Genevieve thought that “as long as he was still at BI and paying his dues,” Barack had believed that a community organizing job would “be the fulfillment of his dream” and gave him hope for the future after his self-imposed 365-day sentence was up. But “the disappointment with how his actual experience” at NYPIRG had played out was leaving him “very broody.” Yet the CCNY students and NYPIRG staffers who worked most closely with Barack could not have been happier with him. On Tuesday, May 7, NYPIRG’s annual Lobby Day in Albany drew almost two hundred students from around the state, and the senate leader who previously had blocked passage of NYPIRG’s Toxic Victims Access to Justice bill told reporters, “I am convinced we will have an agreed-upon bill before the session ends.” The next afternoon CCNY’s NYPIRG chapter hosted a well-publicized community forum on federal budget cuts featuring Frances Fox Piven. CCNY’s classes ended one week later, on May 15, and the NYPIRG chapter held an end-of-semester pizza party in their Math Hut office. Alison Kelley had interacted with Barack as much as anyone over the preceding three months, and Obama had encouraged her to overcome her shyness and learn new skills, accept an invitation to join a singing group, and run for a seat on NYPIRG’s state board. “He was relentless,” and he had “a huge impact,” even if he did not realize it. “He changed the vector of my life in so many ways,” Alison later recalled. Barack was also “constantly bringing stuff in for us to read,” including publications on South Africa. In return, “Every day I’d hound him because he smoked,” and Barack’s usual reply was “We all have flaws.” Nonetheless, “every single female had a crush on him” and “everyone thought he was cute,” but “he was just always warm and friendly … in a very professional way.” At the end of the semester, “we begged him to stay. We loved him,” because “we all felt that he was the perfect person for our chapter, to meet our needs,” Alison recounted. But Barack was explicit that he would not return to CCNY for the fall semester nor stay with NYPIRG over the summer. “He talked about being frustrated, that he wasn’t moving fast enough,” Alison remembered. “It was so clear that he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, and he didn’t feel that he fit in anywhere.” Barack “was just deeply searching for his niche in the world … searching in terms of his own psyche.” He “seemed unsure of where he belonged” and “didn’t know where he was going.” Eileen Hershenov “desperately wanted him to stay,” and her boss Chris Meyer remembered “having a conversation with Barack” after “Eileen put me up to trying to convince him to stay.” To Eileen it was clear that Barack “was interested in organizing but not this kind of organizing.” NYPIRG executive director Tom Wathen concluded that Barack viewed NYPIRG’s issues as “too vanilla,” and “we were disappointed, but not surprised” when he resigned at the end of CCNY’s spring semester. NYPIRG’s top priority, the Toxic Victims Access to Justice bill, would be signed into law a year later by New York governor Mario Cuomo, but in Obama’s own subsequent references to his time at NYPIRG, he never once mentioned that signal achievement. The first time he described his experience, nine years later, he stated that “when I first got involved in organizing, in Harlem, I was out there because of liberal guilt, and I got disabused of that real quickly.” NYPIRG “sent me out into the middle of Harlem to try to get people involved in environmental and recycling issues,” but “the folks in Harlem weren’t all that interested … and I would guilt them all the time.” That description bore no relationship whatsoever to Obama’s actual work on CCNY’s campus, nor would the single phrase he devoted to his NYPIRG work in his subsequent book—“trying to convince the minority students at City College about the importance of recycling”—be much better. In a trio of cable news show interviews in subsequent years, Obama would say that he was “an organizer in Harlem” for “about a year,” that for “six months” he “recruited students out of the City College of New York … to work in the community,” and that he left NYPIRG because “the organization ran out of money.” None of these statements were accurate. At much the same time that his work at CCNY ended, in mid-May 1985, Barack’s relationship with Genevieve deteriorated seriously. Genevieve wrote a brief poem entitled “Where’s the Beef?” invoking a famous 1984 political aphorism. That same day she told her closest friend at PS 133, “I just wanted to chop his dick off,” and the next day, she recorded in her journal, “I called him a prick.” Years later she had no idea what had made her so “aggressively angry at him” or why her feelings had been “so vicious.” That weekend, however, they once again partied with the Pakistanis, but less than two weeks later, Genevieve wrote in her journal about “Barack leaving my life—at least as far as lovers go. In the same way that the relationship was founded on calculated boundaries and carefully, rationally considered developments, it seems to be ending along coolly considered lines.” Once again, Genevieve’s own issues were front and center, as she acknowledged, after rereading her journal entries, “how consistently I mention having been drunk and how many times I’ve said I was giving up pot.” Yet “from the beginning what I have been most concerned with has been my sense of Barack’s withholding the kind of emotional involvement I was seeking. I guess I hoped time would change things, and he’d let go and ‘fall in love’ with me. Now, at this point, I’m left wondering if Barack’s reserve, etc., is not just the time in his life, but, after all, emotional scarring that will make it difficult for him to get involved even after he’s sorted his life through with age and experience. Hard to say.” But within just a few days, on Genevieve’s birthday, June 7, Barack gave her a huge philodendron. Even so, a few days later, Genevieve composed another deeply critical poem about him: You masquerade, you pompous jive, you act, but clothes don’t make a man, and I know you just coverin’ a whole lot of pain and confusion. You think you got it taken care of, but I’m tellin’ you bro, you don’t. You masquerade, you pompous jive, you act. A week later, Genevieve wrote a letter to a friend that she never sent. Only one week of school remained, and “I don’t know how I’ve managed to survive this year: it has been horrendous.” She was continuing to debate whether to teach again in 1985–86, but she was happy at 481 Warren Street, where “I’m making a home for myself. I had wanted to live with Barack—we were lovers for a year—but the relationship as far as steadiness goes has dropped away. The fact that he’s 23 put us in very different places, and I was demanding more than he could give. So I just quietly stopped asking, and it all fell away. We are friends and feel close, and suddenly I find that it’s not me who’s the confused, needy person in a relationship.” By the second week of June 1985, Barack Obama was unemployed again, and he had broken up with the woman with whom he had had the closest and most intimate relationship of his entire life. He was also living alone in an unfurnished apartment that Genevieve described as “creepy and very dark” under “very sketchy” circumstances that left Barack visibly nervous the few times Genevieve ever visited him there. But his NYPIRG experience at CCNY had not extinguished Barack’s desire to pursue some different kind of organizing, and with time on his hands, he spent a good amount of it at the Mid-Manhattan Public Library, on the east side of Fifth Avenue just south of 40th Street. “I started casting a wide net to see if there were jobs available doing grass roots organizing all across the country,” he later recounted. As Obama remembered it, he felt “a hunger for some sort of meaning in my life. I wanted to be part of something larger,” something “larger than myself,” indeed something less “ ‘vanilla’ ” than NYPIRG. One resource he carefully perused was the June issue of Community Jobs. “I wrote to every organization” that advertised, and one résumé and cover letter he put in the mail some time in mid-June was addressed to Gerald Kellman, Director, Calumet Community Religious Conference, 351 E. 113th St., Chicago, IL 60628. Jerry Kellman remembered receiving Obama’s résumé, seeing his surname and Hawaiian background, and asking his Japanese American wife April whether “Obama” might be Japanese. “Sure, it could be,” she replied. Within a day or so Jerry telephoned Barack in New York, and early in that conversation, it was clear that Obama was African American—just what Jerry’s ad, and his DCP leadership, hoped to find. Jerry’s father lived on the Upper West Side, and Jerry was already scheduled to visit him two weeks later. He told Barack they should talk in person in Manhattan. Barack was ecstatic and nervous about his upcoming meeting with Kellman. “He was very much keyed up about it,” Genevieve remembered, “with a very strong sense of wanting to impress and be found suitable … but also a great deal of angst about how the future of his entire life hinged on this meeting.” There was the deep attraction of a real community organizing job, but also, visible yet unspoken, was a strong desire to break free from the weekly pattern of “partying” with Hasan, Sohale, and Imad. “He felt trapped by the Pakistanis and their expectations that he would continue to party with them,” Genevieve realized. Barack “had zero drive to substance use from within himself. It was just an ‘If I don’t, they’ll think I’m stuck up’ ” fear on his part. “He was only doing it so as not to rub it in their face that they were still doing the same-old same-old and he wasn’t interested.” That problem did not present itself when the group gathered at Beenu Mahmood’s apartment on Riverside Drive, or when Wahid attended, but otherwise the weekend cocaine parties extended right up through the spring and summer of 1985—“nonstop—without a doubt—continuous,” Genevieve replied when asked about that time. “It’s uppity to decline because you’re being superior, and he just didn’t want to.” She believed Barack “was very uncomfortable with what he felt was incredibly deep division between where they were going and how they chose to conduct themselves…. If he had been capable of hurting their feelings and being disloyal, he would have stopped engaging” in the weekend gatherings, but he was not, so the prospect of having to leave New York for an organizing job elsewhere held out a promise of freeing him from the bonds of a friendship he could not bring himself to break but very much wanted to sunder. “He mostly wanted to get away from the Pakistanis,” Genevieve believed, for “the restrictions the Pakistanis put on his sense of expanded identity and hopes for the future” had become too much. Hasan Chandoo sensed much the same thing, especially come that spring and early summer of 1985. Barack “had a tough life in New York. No money, hard work,” and in private he had begun to lecture Hasan about how his profligate use of pot and cocaine was part and parcel of a criminal drug economy that was doing untold damage to black young men and black neighborhoods. “He’s telling me as a friend, ‘Stay away from this shit’ ” and become “more disciplined,” Hasan recalled. “I listened to him” and “I was taken by his maturity,” but “I didn’t stop completely.” Just before the July 4 holiday, Keith Patchel returned to 350 West 48th Street from Stockholm. Keith was eight months into the sort of lifestyle change Barack was advocating to Hasan, and as a result “I wasn’t there very much” since “I was going to a lot of meetings.” Apartment 4E was “such a casual, come and go kind of place” that “there were endless occasions when I wouldn’t see my roommates for days at a time, especially” given the apartment’s layout. “I do remember somebody being there” when Keith returned, “somebody in a Hawaiian shirt,” but “we could both be living there and not see each other for days at a time.” Only after being told who that had been did Keith come to the realization that “I do have a recollection of meeting Barack.” Sometime soon after the July 4 holiday, Jerry Kellman arrived in Manhattan and met Obama at a coffee shop for a good two hours. “The whole purpose of this interview for me was to ascertain his motivation,” Kellman recalled, “because it seemed like he must have had so many opportunities” given Barack’s résumé. “He was good-looking and articulate and obviously very, very bright.” When Jerry asked him what he knew about Chicago, Barack’s immediate reply—“Hog butcher for the world,” the opening line of Carl Sandburg’s famous 1914 poem “Chicago”—demonstrated just how much literature Barack had absorbed during his college years. Kellman knew from his years in organizing that “people who were as young as” Barack—not yet twenty-four—sometimes “burn out very quickly” when they “for the first time in their life, encounter significant failure” as novice organizers. For that reason, Kellman wanted to understand why a Columbia graduate who had earned almost $20,000 at BI was applying for this trainee position and its advertised salary of $10,000. Kellman explained CCRC’s hope of staunching the Calumet region’s loss of steel industry jobs, and how church congregations were CCRC’s organizational base. He also made clear that for DCP’s Chicago parishes, he inescapably needed a black organizer. But Jerry had to know why this animated Barack. “What he told me was that he wanted to make positive changes around economic equality,” Kellman recalled. Barack “was clearly an idealist” and “was very hungry to learn.” Indeed Obama “challenged me on whether we could teach him” more than he had experienced at NYPIRG. “ ‘How are you going to train me?’ and ‘What am I going to learn?’ ” were questions Jerry could answer convincingly given his organizing experience stretching back to IAF. Barack wondered too “how would he survive financially” on $10,000, and Kellman suggested Hyde Park as a place to live while making it clear that if Barack rose from his initial trainee status, his salary would go up as well. Jerry then offered Obama a job on the spot, which he accepted, and upon discovering that Barack did not own a car, which would be essential on the Far South Side, Kellman offered him an additional $1,000 to buy a car. A check would be in the mail as soon as Jerry returned to Chicago, and Barack agreed to make the drive to Chicago as soon as he acquired a car that would get him there. Beenu Mahmood was in Chicago, living in Hyde Park while working as a summer associate at the law firm of Sidley & Austin prior to his final year of law school, so Obama knew he had an initial place to stay. Either that day or the next, Barack went to Brooklyn to see Genevieve at her Warren Street apartment. “He was very, very sure that Chicago would offer him the organizing experience that New York” had not, she recalled, but what she remembered most clearly was the question he posed to her: “Do you want to move to Chicago with me?” Given how their relationship had “devolved” over the previous two months, Genevieve was surprised, but “I was so sick of the withheldness that I never even hesitated with ‘No.’ ” Years later she would debate with herself whether Barack asked only because he was certain she would decline, or whether he still felt a deep attachment to her. Only in retrospect would she come to believe that “all the tension he was feeling that May and June had very little to do with me” as opposed to Barack’s need to find a purpose in his life. Now he was headed to a predominantly African American working environment, even though, in her view, “he had zero experience of black culture.” Genevieve had long recognized and teased him about “the grandness of his vision,” even though “it wasn’t at all an articulated vision.” But now Barack was undertaking the most consequential decision of his still young life, leaving a city to which he repeatedly had returned following his college graduation two years earlier for a new metropolis he had glimpsed only as a young child for whom the Field Museum’s shrunken heads were Chicago’s most memorable attraction. By July 16 Barack was looking to buy an affordable used car, and within a week, he acquired an “old, beat up” blue Honda Civic for the grand sum of $800, $200 less than what Kellman had sent him. Genevieve recorded in her journal “the thought of being alone again and somehow defenseless once Barack’s gone.” He had a good-bye lunch with Andy Roth on the Upper East Side, and early on Friday afternoon, July 26, 1985, Barack pulled away from 350 West 48th Street with all of his worldly possessions in his “raggedy” Honda. “My radio/cassette sprang to life with a slight touch of the antenna, just as I was about to enter the West Side Highway,” he wrote some days later. “I tuned into the jazz station and drove over the George Washington Bridge, straining my neck to catch a last glimpse of the Manhattan skyline. It was overcast.” Once across the soaring span, he bore right when the expressway forked, with the New Jersey Turnpike bending south and Interstate 80 heading west as the urban clutter of Hackensack and Paterson gave way to the rural countryside of northwest New Jersey before the road descended to the Delaware Water Gap and the historic river that marked the Pennsylvania state line. It was a road he had never traveled, and as Pennsylvania passed by with nary a single city to be seen, all Barack would remember of the transit was “hazy green.” In Boerum Hill, Genevieve mourned the departure of a man she would never see again, “sitting in a chair weeping about the fact that he had left.” She wrote in her journal, “So. Alone again … Barack’s leaving—now being goneness.” A chapter in both of their lives had closed, and for Barack a brand-new one was about to open. “Around 9:00PM, too tired to drive further,” Barack turned off of I-80 at the last exit before the Ohio state line. Leaving the interstate, a local highway afforded an easy right turn onto South Hermitage Road. A Holiday Inn was brightly visible, but so was a sign advertising a budget motel a few hundred yards farther north, on the west side of the road across from the Tam O’Shanter Golf Course. Less than eight weeks earlier a tornado, rare in the Shenango Valley, had leveled many surrounding trees, but the funnel cloud had inflicted only incidental damage on the Fairway Inn. “I rang the bell at a small, ill-lit lobby, and out came a tall, gangly man with a checkered shirt, plaid jacket and golf hat. He looked like an overgrown leprechaun…. He pulled out a slip of paper and ran off the nightly rates in rapid fire. I told him I would take the cheapest room and gave him my driver’s license,” which featured Barack’s full name. The owner “was struck by my name”—“Hussein …isn’t that some bad guy there in the Middle East?”—“and asked me what I did for a living. I explained my new job, and he went into a ten-minute monologue.” Ten-minute monologues were not unusual for Bob Elia, but the one he delivered that evening to Barack Hussein Obama would replay itself again and again in Obama’s mind in the years to come. Barack recounted Bob’s monologue in a letter to Genevieve two weeks later, and he would allude to it three years later in a magazine essay. He would also transmogrify Elia into a fictional black security guard in his first book, and he would recount Elia’s monologue virtually word for word almost half a dozen times to diverse audiences more than twenty years later. Many individuals who come to believe that their lives stand for more—sometimes much more—than the sum of their own personal experiences retrospectively identify one signal event, one single conversation, as representing the moment when they first knew that they could contribute to the world something more eternal than their own individual fate. Such experiences occur in places sacred, historic, and profane: the kitchen of a parsonage at 309 South Jackson Street in a southern capital city on a January night, the front yard of Coffin Point Plantation on St. Helena Island on a balmy New Year’s Eve, or the lobby of a budget motel at 2810 South Hermitage Road in Hermitage, Pennsylvania, on a warm July evening. A minister of the gospel might understandably believe he was communicating with a higher being—“He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone. No never alone. No never alone.” Someone less religious might hear a voice from history’s recent past, offering fortitude against the national security state. But when Barack Obama’s foundational experience occurred, the voice he was hearing was indisputably that of fifty-two-year-old, six-foot-two-inch Bob Elia. Bob grew up in nearby Farrell, Pennsylvania, where most of the racially diverse population drew its paychecks at Sharon Steel’s Roemer Works. Bob had a number of black friends across the early decades of his life. By 1985 the local Sharon Herald had for several years been publishing the syndicated columns of conservative black economists Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams, and Bob had taken a hankering to both men’s writings, regularly clipping and saving Williams’s essays. Bob often cited their analyses when telling acquaintances how they might better themselves, and operating a motel gave Bob a never-ending population of new guests to whom he could offer his thoughts on how they could improve their lives. Barack’s brief response that he was headed to Chicago to become a community organizer was fuel for Bob Elia’s fire. “Look here, Mr. Hussein, I’m going to give you the best advice anyone’s ever given you…. Drop this public service crap and pursue something that’s going to get you some money and status … and then maybe you’ll have the power to do something for your people. I’m telling you now because I see potential in you … you got a nice voice, you can be one of them T.V. announcers, or one of those high-priced salesmen. Peddling bullshit, but look here, bullshit’s the American way.” Bob cited Williams or Sowell in telling Barack that political and social influence follow from economic strength, period. “Black people need more like this fellah, not Jesse with rhymes and jive…. Most folks at the bottom can’t be helped by you” and “most of ’em don’t want your help.” Finally Barack was able to interject a more pressing question: Where could he get dinner? Bob recommended the West Middlesex Diner, back down South Hermitage Road just south of I-80. Wanting some fresh air and time to reflect, “I took the man’s words on a long walk along the highway to a small all-night diner and had supper,” Barack wrote Genevieve. After eating, “the walk back was cool and silent, the stars cluttering the sky as they hadn’t in five years. Back in my room, The Year of Living Dangerously”—a 1982 film set in a city that Barack himself knew, Jakarta on the eve of the mid-1960s mass killings—“was playing” on the black-and-white television. If Bob Elia’s fervent plea to reconsider his new job had given him something to think about, being reminded of his years in a truly foreign land while in the middle of this drive offered even more. Elia’s comments would echo in Barack’s memory for decades to come. Three years later, some of Bob’s advice would be attributed to a black female school aide. “Listen, Obama. You’re a bright young man…. I just cannot understand why a bright young man like you would … become a community organizer … ’cause the pay is low, the hours is long, and don’t nobody appreciate you.” In its next rendition, Bob’s remarks would be made by “Ike,” a fictional black security guard: “Forget about this organizing business and do something that’s gonna make you some money…. I’m telling you this ’cause I can see potential in you. Young man like you, got a nice voice—hell, you could be one a them announcers on TV. Or sales … making some real money there. That’s what we need, see. Not more folks running around here, all rhymes and jive. You can’t help folks that ain’t gonna make it nohow, and they won’t appreciate you trying.” More than twenty years later, Barack would accurately recount how “I stopped for the night at a small town in Pennsylvania whose name I can’t remember any more, and I found a motel that looked cheap and clean, and I pulled into the driveway, and I went to the counter where there was this old guy doing crossword puzzles” who “asked me where I was headed, and I explained to him I was going to Chicago because I was going to be a community organizer, and he asked me what was that.” Then came Bob’s monologue: “You look like a nice clean-cut young man, you’ve got a nice voice. So let me give you a piece of advice: forget this community organizing business. You can’t change the world, and people will not appreciate you trying. What you should do is go into television broadcasting. I’m telling you, you can make a name for yourself there.” “Objectively speaking, he made some sense,” Barack would reflect in that retelling. Two weeks later, he repeated the centerpiece of Bob’s monologue word for word. Thirteen months later Obama recited Bob’s message once more, as he did again five months after that. In May 2008, Obama recounted his memory of that night yet again: “You’ve got a nice voice, so you should think about going into television broadcasting. I’m telling you, you have a future there.” In contrast to Barack’s indelible memory of their conversation, twenty-nine years later Bob Elia had no recollection of young Obama. When asked, though, he almost immediately told a caller, “You’ve got a nice voice” before launching into a ten-minute monologue on the life-extending powers of a trio of multisyllabic nutritional supplements. But in 1985, on the next summer morning, Barack checked out of the motel without reencountering Bob, and after heading down South Hermitage Road and bearing right onto I-80, the Ohio state line was just a few miles ahead. I-80 became the Ohio Turnpike and then the Indiana Toll Road once it crossed another state line. Chicago lay six hours ahead, but as Barack Obama drove west, he was headed toward a place he really had never been, indeed toward a place he really had never known: he was heading west toward home. Chapter Four (#ulink_92d9529c-fcd1-5915-8339-dda1eb3f5a15) TRANSFORMATION AND IDENTITY (#ulink_92d9529c-fcd1-5915-8339-dda1eb3f5a15) ROSELAND, HYDE PARK, AND KENYA AUGUST 1985–AUGUST 1988 West of South Bend, the Indiana Toll Road slides southward as the shoreline of Lake Michigan draws near. The Indiana Dunes give way to Burns Harbor and its huge steel mill, which marks the eastern edge of the Calumet region’s industrial lakeshore. Gary and East Chicago offer a gritty industrial visage before the highway turns sharply north as the Illinois state line approaches. There the interstate becomes the Chicago Skyway, with the East Side, the Calumet River, and then South Chicago flashing by underneath the elevated roadway. On Saturday afternoon, July 27, Barack Hussein Obama took the next exit heading for Hyde Park, turning northward on the broad boulevard of Stony Island Avenue. At 67th Street, Jackson Park appeared on the east side of the road, offering sunlit greenery all the way to 56th Street. Beenu Mahmood’s summer apartment at 5500 South Shore Drive was just a few blocks away. Obama stopped at a pay phone but discovered he had miswritten Beenu’s number, and he called Sohale to get it right. Then Beenu met Barack in front of the tall luxury building, whose tenants had access to a heated swimming pool plus an on-site deli—“not exactly the setting I had envisioned for launching my career as selfless organizer of the people,” Barack wrote Genevieve a few days later. “The discordance only increased when we went to a fancy outdoor café downtown to feast on barbecued ribs.” Beenu’s fiancée, Samia Ahad, was in Chicago too, and after a restful Sunday Barack drove south to Roseland on Monday morning, while Beenu headed to Sidley & Austin’s downtown office. At Holy Rosary’s rectory, on 113th Street across from the sprawling Palmer Park, Barack met his Calumet Community Religious Conference and Developing Communities Project coworkers. Mike Kruglik, he wrote Genevieve, “reminds me of the grumpy dwarf in Snow White” with “a thick beard and mustache. He speaks with the blunt, succinct clip of working class Chicago.” That first day “he barely acknowledged my presence” but as the week went on it became clear that Mike is “both competent and warm.” Adrienne Jackson was “prim,” “helpful and committed,” with “polished administrative skills,” and Obama quickly determined that she, like himself, had been “hired as much to give the staff a racial balance as she was for her abilities.” Of Jerry Kellman, Barack told Genevieve, “In his rumpled, messy way, he exhibits a real passion for justice and the concept of grassroots organizing. He speaks softly and is chronically late, but is real sharp in his analysis of power and politics, and is also disarmingly blunt and at times manipulative. A complicated man … but someone from whom I expect I can learn a few things.” Obama also wrote that he “made full use of the amenities” that Beenu’s building offered “without guilt.” Samia was on her way to becoming a professionally acclaimed chef, and one evening she cooked a Pakistani dinner; Beenu’s friend Asif Agha joined them, even though the apartment had no dining table or chairs. Asif, like Beenu, had graduated from the famous Karachi Grammar School before receiving his undergraduate degree from Princeton University. He was the same age as Barack, and he had arrived in Hyde Park two years earlier to begin graduate study in languages reaching from Greek to Tibetan, under the auspices of the University of Chicago’s interdisciplinary Committee on Social Thought. With Beenu about to return to Manhattan for his third year at Columbia Law School, Asif was another smart and outgoing member of the Pakistani diaspora that had provided Barack’s closest male friends for the past six years. Tuesday morning Barack discovered that he had left his car lights on all night, and he needed a jump start so he could meet his day’s schedule. Wednesday morning the car again failed to start, and Beenu, Samia, and Asif all helped push it to get it going. A deeply embarrassed Barack confessed to Genevieve that “I appeared to have left my brains back in N.Y.” because “similar lapses have repeated themselves.” By the next weekend, he had signed a lease for a small $300-a-month studio apartment, #22-I, at 1440 East 52nd Street, in the heart of Hyde Park. He also told Genevieve about the “pang of envy and resentment” he felt toward Beenu’s “prestigious, well-paying and basically straightforward work as a corporate lawyer” and how it contrasted with his far more precarious existence. Down in Roseland, Kellman’s first goal was to teach Obama community organizing’s defining centerpiece, the one-on-one interview, or what IAF traditionalists called “the relational meeting.” All Alinsky-style organizing recognized the cardinal principle that first “an organizer has to … listen—a lot.” According to Industrial Areas Foundation veteran and United Neighborhood Organization adviser Peter Martinez, the ability to listen is the “critical skill,” for it enables an organizer “to synergize all of the things that they’re experiencing so that they can incorporate that into their thinking in a way that when they talk with people, people can hear themselves coming back within the structure of what it is you’re suggesting might be done.” This, Martinez said, would keep people from feeling like the organizer is putting something “on top of them.” Kellman knew the first month was “very crucial” with any new recruit, and particularly with someone who “had never encountered blue-collar and lower-class African Americans.” During Obama’s first few days, Jerry took him along so that Barack could watch a veteran organizer ask people to talk about their lives and to say what they thought were the community’s problems, listening especially for how that person’s own self-interest could motivate them to take an active part in DCP. Obama “struggled with this in the beginning,” Kellman recalled, as his connections with people “could be superficial,” and “I would challenge Barack to go deeper, to connect with their strongest longings.” But Jerry was too busy to do this full-time, and so “very quickly he was out on his own, just talking to people, day after day,” with the expectation that each week Barack could conduct between twenty and thirty such one-on-ones with pastors and parishioners from DCP’s Roman Catholic churches. Among the first pastors Obama called upon were Father Joe Bennett at St. John de la Salle, the church that Adrienne Jackson attended, Father Tom Kaminski at St. Helena of the Cross, and Father John Calicott at Holy Name of Mary—who had been so responsible for Jerry’s ad in Community Jobs. Bennett remembered Barack asking him “all kinds of questions,” and when he left Bennett thought “what a sharp, brilliant young man.” Kellman also took Obama on a driving tour of the neighborhoods DCP and CCRC serviced. More than two decades later, Barack could spontaneously describe what he saw when Jerry drove east on 103rd Street past Trumbull Park before turning south on Torrence Avenue. “I can still remember the first time I saw a shuttered steel mill. It was late in the afternoon, and I took a drive with another organizer over to the old Wisconsin Steel plant on the southeast side of Chicago…. As we drove up … I saw a plant that was empty and rusty. And behind a chain-link fence, I saw weeds sprouting up through the concrete, and an old mangy cat running around. And I thought about all the good jobs it used to provide.” As Kellman had told him, “when a plant shuts down, it’s not just the workers who pay a price, it’s the whole community.” The people of South Deering had been living for more than five years with what Obama saw that afternoon. “The mill is just like a ghost hanging over the whole community like a cloud,” one St. Kevin parishioner explained, indeed “the ghost of the Industrial Revolution,” another resident realized. “It just sat there and rotted before everyone’s eyes,” Father George Schopp explained, and a beautifully written article in the August issue of Chicago Magazine—one that would have made a memorable impression on any aspiring young writer who read it—described South Deering in the summer of 1985 as “the essence of the Rust Belt … along Torrence near Wisconsin Steel, the stores are empty; only a few taverns remain.” Kellman also took Obama southward from Roseland, to show him the brick expanse of Altgeld Gardens, which was so distant from all the rest of Chicago apart from the huge Calumet Industrial Development (CID) landfill just to the east where all of the city’s garbage was dumped, and the Metropolitan Sanitary District’s 127 acres of “drying beds” for sewerage sludge just north across 130th Street. Neither the dump nor the sewer plant ever drew much attention, yet just to the northeast, near the older Paxton Landfill, as Chicago Magazine’s Jerry Sullivan wrote, “the greatest concentration of rare birds in Illinois” was spending the summer “squeezed between a garbage dump and a shit farm.” Obscure scientific journals with names like Chemosphere occasionally published studies that detailed how the presence of airborne PCBs was “significantly higher” around “the Gardens” than anywhere else in Chicago, but just a week after Obama’s introductory tour of the area, an underground fire at an abandoned landfill abutting Paxton—a weird and unprecedented event—drew camera crews, reporters, and city officials to the Far South Side’s toxic wasteland. The chemical conflagration took more than twelve days to finally burn itself out, and region-wide press coverage featured UNO’s Mary Ellen Montes criticizing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its lack of interest. City officials suggested blowing up the remaining metal drums with unknown contents, and UNO filed suit in federal court against the EPA in hopes of jarring federal officials into action. In Roseland, more than a mile northwest of the underground fire, the only newsworthy event in the eyes of Chicago newspapers during Barack’s first weeks was the arrest of an initial suspect in a cold-blooded killing that was all too reminiscent of Ronald Nelson’s murder just five months earlier. One Saturday evening, shortly before Barack’s arrival, forty-nine-year-old factory foreman Enos Conard and his twenty-three-year-old son were manning an ice cream truck on 105th Street, hardly five blocks from Father Tom Kaminski’s St. Helena Church. Two men in their early thirties approached and ordered ice cream before one suddenly drew a gun. As Conard reached for his own weapon, the lead assailant fired a single fatal shot into Conard’s chest. Conard left behind a widow and four children, and a fellow vendor complained to reporters that “so many people have guns.” A mortician from nearby Cedar Park Cemetery had drawn press attention by publicizing his offer of free funerals and burials to victims of Far South Side gun violence, and Conard’s family became the seventh to accept. In late August, police arrested L. C. Riley of Roseland as one of the assailants, and two years later both Riley and triggerman Willie Dixon, also from Roseland, were convicted of Conard’s murder. Dixon was sentenced to life in prison, and three decades later, Dixon remained in the same cellblock at Stateville Correctional Center as Nelson’s killer, Clarence Hayes. Also in Roseland, although invisible to Kellman and Obama, ACORN’s Madeline Talbott had hired a new organizer, Ted Aranda, who had worked previously for a year under Greg Galluzzo at UNO, to revitalize ACORN’s Far South Side presence after months of inactivity following Steuart Pittman’s departure in mid-March 1985. Unlike CCRC’s and DCP’s church-based organizing, ACORN went block by block knocking on doors to get residents together to tackle community problems. Aranda explained years later that “most of the people that I got involved in the organization were always women.” The goal was to attract enough recruits to hold a community meeting, and Aranda’s Central American heritage was a significant asset, because his dark complexion led most Roseland residents to assume he was African American. “That’s not my identity” once “you look beyond my skin color,” Ted said, but he also had an advantage in Latino neighborhoods, where “they took me for a Hispanic.” Aranda learned that Roseland residents were angry that the city had not provided them with garbage cans, and Pullman people were upset about a disco patronized by gang members. By early September, the Roseland group, COAR—Community Organized for Action & Reform—had drawn enough interest that Talbott convened a meeting at King Drive and 113th Street—i.e., Holy Rosary. In late October, the Pullman group, ERPCCO—East Roseland Pullman Concerned Citizens’ Organization—succeeded in closing the disco. But by the winter, Ted Aranda “became disenchanted with community organizing as a viable model for radical change,” and he resigned. By the standards of Alinsky-style organizing, Aranda’s months in Roseland had been successful, but as he explained years later, he “was more convinced than ever by the end of my short organizing stint that the political system itself was the problem.” And even though COAR and DCP were working in the very same neighborhood, “Barack Obama I never met at all.” DCP’s board met on the second Tuesday evening of each month, and at the August meeting in St. Helena’s basement, Kellman introduced Obama so the members could formally ratify his hiring. Virtually everyone was taken aback by how youthful he seemed. “My first thought was ‘Gee, he is really young,’ ” Loretta Augustine recalled years later, and she whispered that to Yvonne Lloyd sitting next to her. Yvonne’s first reaction was just like Loretta’s: “We had children older than he was.” The always outspoken Dan Lee said aloud what they all were thinking: “Whoa, this is a baby right here.” Obama smiled and acknowledged that he looked young, but once he spoke to them about himself and responded to their questions, he quickly won them over. “He was very candid in his answers—straightforward,” Loretta remembered. “The impressive part was that he seemed to really understand what we were saying to him,” which she considered a marked change from both Mike and Jerry. “When we talked about certain things that he didn’t know about, he didn’t lie. He basically said, ‘You know what, I’m not really familiar with that. However, these are things that we can learn together.’ ” In short order, “we knew he was the right person for us,” Loretta recalled, and though “his honesty has a lot to do with it,” so did Barack’s appearance. “His color did make a difference to us, because it’s important for us and our children and everybody else to understand that people who look like us can do the job.” The day after that meeting, Barack wrote the letter to Genevieve that described his trip from New York—and his unforgettable conversation with Bob Elia at the Fairway Inn—as well as his first weeks in Chicago. Genevieve had called Barack several days earlier, and he began by apologizing for “my phone manner. You know I dislike the telephone…. Combined with the lingering pain of separation, I’m sure I sounded guarded and stand-offish. I’m better with letters … (yes, more control).” Barack said that Jerry “has thrown me into” several neighborhoods, including Altgeld Gardens and Roseland, “without much … guidance” at all. “There are some established leaders with whom I can work, but I must say that for now, I’m pretty confused and feel my inexperience acutely.” He realized that having “a trustworthy face” worked to his advantage, as did “the dearth of educated young men in the area who haven’t gone into the corporate world.” Barack was pleased with the job, but questions remained. “For all the kindness and helpfulness the communities have offered me so far, I can see the thoughts running through their heads—‘another young do-gooder.’ I know it runs through mine.” So “doubts of my effectiveness in such a setting remain, but at least I feel like I’m in one of the best settings to really test my values that I could hope to find right now.” Overall, “the work offers neither more nor less than I had anticipated,” which he found reassuring. He characterized Hyde Park as “a poor man’s Greenwich Village,” but he was pleased with his apartment and “the cheap prices in restaurants” though not “the disappointing newspapers.” But another contrast from New York was more striking. “Blacks seem more plentiful, and more importantly, seem to exude a sense of ownership, of comfortable dignity about who they are and where they live than do blacks” in New York. Chicago offered “a much more visible well-to-do and middle class black population who still live in a cohering black community,” and “black culture here is more closely rooted to the South; the neighborhoods have a down home feel…. Even the poorest black neighborhoods seem to have a stronger social fabric on which to rely than in NY” and “as a result, the young bucks, though no less surly and pained than their NY counterparts, appear to feel less need to constantly assert themselves against the respectable, and in particular, the white, world.” Obama wondered whether “these strands of self-confidence” were due to Mayor Harold Washington, whose “grizzled, handsome face shines out from many store front windows in the areas I work.” Barack wrote that he already had swum in Lake Michigan, but confessed “the almost daily thump in my chest, pain and longing when I think of Manhattan, and the Pakistanis, and when I think of you.” He wrote out his address and phone number and told Genevieve, “I expect you to make use of this information frequently.” He enclosed a $130 check for money he owed her, and closed by telling her about his African sister who had canceled her trip to New York ten months earlier at the last minute: “Auma did get in touch with me and will be coming through Chicago in two weeks. Very excited.” By late summer 1985, Auma Obama was still in university at Heidelberg, but her closest German friend was now studying at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, a small town southeast of St. Louis, Missouri, which was far from Chicago. Auma traveled to Carbondale for two weeks, calling Barack once to update him on her plans, and then took a long train trip to Chicago, where he met her at the station and then cooked a South Asian dinner for them in his small apartment, where Auma would bunk on the living room couch. Obama was eager to have his sister tell him about their late father, and for the next ten days—interrupted only by his work—the siblings spoke for long hours about Barack Hussein Obama Sr. One day Auma went with him to work at Holy Rosary, where she met Jerry and several parish volunteers. Back in Hyde Park, one evening Auma went beyond her somewhat-edited comments about Obama Sr. and told her brother that he had been fortunate not to have grown up in his father’s household, particularly after Obama Sr. married Ruth. Auma showed family photos to Barack, but she also spoke about Obama Sr.’s drinking problem and the suffering his older children endured as a result of his financial irresponsibility, Roy Abon’go even more than her. Auma also mentioned “the old man’s” auto accidents and job-loss experiences, and told Barack, “I think he was basically a very lonely man.” Barack generally said little in response, but he took time to show Auma Chicago’s downtown sights and museums before the Carbondale friend and her boyfriend arrived in Chicago to take Auma with them to Wisconsin. Before she left, Auma urged Barack to visit her once she returned to Kenya. Auma later remarked that the visit was “a very intense ten days together” and that “I was very conscious of trying to give him a full picture of who his father was.” In the immediate aftermath of her visit, Barack said little about the new and sad portrait Auma had painted of Obama Sr. to his coworkers or to his only regular outside-work acquaintance, Asif Agha. Barack and Asif had drinks and dinner almost every Thursday night at a restaurant on 55th Street in Hyde Park. “We hit it off … and we saw each other extremely regularly,” Agha recalled years later. “He didn’t know anyone” beyond DCP, and it was obvious that “the work was stressful, and he was discovering himself.” Barack did not talk much about DCP to Asif. “The only person he ever told me much about” was fellow Princeton graduate Mike Kruglik, whom Obama clearly liked. “He came up frequently.” Mostly the two twenty-four-year-olds talked about writing. “I used to write poetry, and he used to write short stories,” and each Thursday “we would share whatever we had been writing.” According to Asif, Barack “was very serious about writing” and regularly turned out short sketches of six to ten double-spaced typed pages, but there was no real suggestion that he would pursue writing as a career. These dinners were sometimes leavened with shots of tequila, giving Obama at least one regular outlet from the stresses and strains of being a real organizer. A decade later, Obama offered a sketch of Auma’s visit that had her arriving at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, not Union Station, but that did describe her telling him about their father’s tragic latter years. “Where once I’d felt the need to live up to his expectations, I now felt as if I had to make up for all of his mistakes.” Another decade later, during the first six months of his emergence as a nationally known figure, Obama several times opened up about his recollections of Auma’s visit. “Every man is either trying to live up to his father’s expectations or making up for his mistakes,” he told one questioner. “In some ways, I still chase after his ghost a little bit.” In a long interview with radio journalist Dave Davies, Obama spoke more extensively about his father than at any other time in his life, stating that during Auma’s visit, he learned that his father had had “a very troubled life.” He understood that some of Obama Sr.’s employment problems had occurred “in part because he was somebody who was willing to speak out against corruption and nepotism” within the Kenyan government, but the portrait his mother had so insistently painted “of this very strong, powerful, imposing figure was suddenly balanced by this picture of a very tragic figure who had never been able to really pull all the pieces of his life together.” What Auma had told him was “a very disquieting revelation” that really “shook me up” and “forced me to grow up a little bit.” While “in some ways it was liberating” relative to the implicit expectations Ann’s glowing comments plus Obama Sr.’s own self-presentation to his ten-year-old son back in December 1971 had created, “it also made me question myself in all sorts of ways” because “you worry that there are elements of their character that have seeped into you … and you’ve got to figure out how you’re going to cope with those things,” particularly how Obama Sr. had behaved toward women and the offspring he sired. Asked on camera by Oprah Winfrey about his father, Obama said, “he ended up having an alcoholism problem and ended up leading a fairly tragic life.” When a friend asked Barack to quickly compose some uplifting advice for young black men, Obama e-mailed that “none of us have control of the circumstances into which we are born” and that some will have to “confront the failings of our own parents.” But “your life is what you make it.” A few years later, Barack admitted that “part of my life has been a deliberate attempt to not repeat mistakes of my father,” whom he acknowledged “was an alcoholic” and “a womanizer.” Obama acknowledged that Auma had revealed how their father had “treated his family shabbily” and had lived “a very tragic life.” Even though Barack did not speak about this disquieting news to Asif, Mike, or Jerry, the long-term impact of Auma’s truth telling would be profound. “This was someone who made an awful lot of mistakes in his life, but at least I understand why.” In early September 1985, Chicago’s public school teachers went on a citywide strike. It was the third straight fall, and the eighth in eighteen years, that school days were lost to a labor dispute. The Chicago Teachers Union was demanding a 9 percent pay raise and the city had offered 3.5 percent; only 14 percent of union members had actually participated in the strike vote. Independent observers, such as education researcher Fred Hess, told reporters that both sides were being unreasonable, and a Chicago Sun-Times editorial described the union’s behavior as “unconscionable.” Quick intervention by Illinois governor James R. Thompson led to a 6 percent settlement and the loss of only two school days. That fall, Jerry Kellman was still savoring the triumph he had experienced in early July when the Illinois legislature appropriated $500,000 to fund a computerized CCRC jobs bank that would assess unemployed workers’ skills and market their résumés to potential employers. The big pot of money had been obtained by Calumet City state representative Frank Giglio, a close friend of Fred Simari, the St. Victor parishioner who had been volunteering virtually full-time for Kellman, as well as Hazel Crest state senator Richard Kelly. The half-million dollars would allow Governors State University (GSU) to hire twenty job-skill-assessment interviewers for ten months to create résumés for unemployed individuals. In news articles about this, Kellman said the program’s success was dependent upon “hundreds” of volunteers stepping forward and pressing employers to hire those workers. Once the funding was confirmed, Jerry made plans to shift Adrienne Jackson to help oversee the new program and began aiming for a massive public rally to kick off the enterprise. Before the end of August, he hired Sister Mary Bernstein, a forty-year-old Catholic nun and experienced organizer, and assigned her to St. Victor to handle CCRC’s Catholic parishes in the south suburbs. In tandem with Mike Kruglik and DCP, the immediate goal was to mobilize as large a crowd as possible for the kickoff rally Kellman scheduled for Monday evening, September 30, a day before the program office at GSU would open officially. Kellman arranged for the two most powerful individuals in Illinois—Governor “Big Jim” Thompson and Archbishop Joseph Cardinal Bernardin—to speak at the event. Choirs from Joe Bennett’s St. John de la Salle and John Calicott’s Holy Name of Mary would perform, and the invaluable Fred Simari would preside as master of ceremonies. Also featured on the podium would be Lutheran bishop Paul E. Erickson, Methodist bishop Jesse DeWitt, Presbyterian executive Gary Skinner, and the towering young Maury Richards from United Steelworkers Local 1033, whom advance press reports described as “president of the state’s largest”—they might have added “remaining”—steel workers local. Five days before the rally, the food processor Libby, McNeill & Libby announced that within the next year, it would close its Far South Side Chicago plant on 119th Street; that meant a loss of 450 good jobs. The Sunday before the rally, Leo Mahon praised his St. Victor parishioners like Fred Simari and Gloria Boyda for the time they gave to CCRC’s employment efforts and reminded his congregation that scripture teaches that “the desire for money is the root of all evil.” On Monday evening, CCRC vice president Rev. Thomas Knutson hosted a pre-rally dinner for the almost two hundred program participants at his First Lutheran Church of Harvey before the 8:00 P.M. rally kicked off at nearby Thornton High School. A racially diverse crowd of more than a thousand, including a watchful Barack Obama and dozens of people from DCP’s Chicago parishes, filled the gymnasium as Fred introduced the speakers, including Loretta Augustine on behalf of DCP. After Maury Richards told the audience, “we’ve lost forty thousand jobs in the past few years,” the governor came forward and began by saying, “My name is Jim Thompson. My job is jobs.” He went on to declare that “jobs are more important than mental health or law enforcement, because unless people are working and paying taxes, there won’t be any resources to pay for those services.” But the evening’s real star was Cardinal Joe Bernardin, who denounced racism and called for “cultural and ethnic unity in the Calumet region.” He noted how unemployment “cuts across racial and ethnic lines,” and he promised that “the church is here to help you” while stressing that “the real leadership must come from the laity.” Sounding at times like Leo Mahon, Bernardin declared that “every person has a right to a decent home” and vowed that “the cycle of poverty can be broken and community decline can be turned around.” The archbishop pledged further church support for CCRC, and the rally ended with a white female parishioner from Hazel Crest asking the crowd: “Do you want to be part of a community that controls its future?” The audience responded with lengthy applause. For Obama, the rally and the bus ride back to Holy Rosary provided an opportunity to make some new acquaintances, such as Cathy Askew, who had sat quietly through their introductory meeting at St. Helena. He was also able to talk more with the dynamic Dan Lee, DCP’s board president, and with Dan’s fellow deacon at St. Catherine, the vigorous Tommy West. For Jerry, Fred, Gloria, and most of all Leo Mahon, the rally was a wonderful culmination of their efforts that reached back over five years. Harvey Lutheran pastor Tom Knutson described the rally as “a tremendous experience for the local community.” Now CCRC’s challenge was to get the new “Regional Employment Network” (REN) up and running. GSU planned to have some skills assessors ready to begin interviewing unemployed individuals by early November, but in early October news broke that an Allis-Chalmers engine plant and an Atlantic-Richfield facility would soon be closing, costing up to nine hundred more good jobs. Kellman privately had been told a few days before Bernardin’s appearance that the national Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CHD) would be awarding CCRC an additional $40,000 to support the REN program, with an event on Saturday, October 26, marking the public announcement. Obama joined Kellman at the ceremony, and a story in Monday’s Chicago Tribune marked his first appearance in the Chicago press: “Barack Obama, who works with the Calumet Community Religious Conference, said its grant will be used to assess skills of unemployed workers and to aid them in finding jobs.” The first actual assessment sessions kicked off at St. Victor in Calumet City on November 14 and 15, attracting eighty-six applicants ranging in age from nineteen to sixty-seven years old. Six skills assessors prepared a fourteen-page information sheet on each applicant, and Adrienne Jackson wishfully told a local reporter, “There are hundreds of employers out there who need people.” She predicted that REN would interview more than thirteen thousand job seekers during the next eight months. Looming most dauntingly was the future of LTV’s East Side Republic Steel plant, where the thirty-three-hundred-person workforce included twenty-four hundred members of Maury Richards’s United Steelworkers Local 1033. Since midsummer, LTV executives had been demanding tax abatements from Governor Thompson and Mayor Harold Washington; the city had responded with proposed investment incentives, as the East Side plant, just like Wisconsin and South Works before it, desperately needed significant modernization if there was any chance of long-term survival. LTV had more than $2 billion in debt, had lost more than $64 million in 1984, and its losses for 1985 could be triple that figure. Richards told reporters the only way to save aging U.S steel plants was a commitment from the federal government. Frank Lumpkin told a congressional subcommittee that the underlying issue was more fundamental: “jobs or income is the basic human right, the right to survive.” Throughout the late summer of 1985, Frank had been writing to Chicago’s daily papers, saying that unemployed workers “are fed up with programs for training and retraining when jobs don’t exist and with job search programs that only provide employment for those who run them.” His bottom-line demand was clear: “the federal government must take over and run these mills—nationalize them—for the good of our country and our community.” In the Chicago Tribune, Mary Schmich profiled former Local 65 president Don Stazak, who now worked as toll collector on a nearby interstate rather than for U.S. Steel. “I thought of the company as a father,” he told Schmich. In early November, Maury Richards and his 1033 colleagues decided that their situation was so dire that previously full-time officers like the local’s president would return to work in the mill rather than draw union paychecks. In late September, Obama got news that was almost as disquieting as Auma’s revelations about their father: Genevieve wrote to confess that she had become sexually involved with Sohale Siddiqi. Soon after Barack’s late July departure for Chicago, Genevieve had flown to San Francisco to visit a friend before returning to New York on August 14. That evening she and Sohale “went to a Bonnie Raitt concert together and did ecstasy, that’s what did it,” she later recounted. Her own struggles with alcohol had not improved in the wake of Barack leaving and with the beginning of another school year at PS 133, yet Barack thanked her for “your sweet letter” when he wrote back to her. “The news of Sohale and you did hurt … in part because I was the last to know—the Pakis were sounding awfully stiff the last time I spoke to them. But mainly the hurt was a final tremor of all the mixed-up pain I had been feeling before we parted—watching something I valued more than you may know pass from what is, what might still be, to what was.” But Barack’s first two months in Chicago leavened his heartache. “It seems that we have both ended up where we need to be at this stage in our lives,” so while “the pain of your absence is real, and won’t lessen without more time, I feel no regrets about the way things have turned out.” He ended by saying he hoped to get back to New York sometime in the months ahead. “All my love—Barack.” Reflecting back years later on what had transpired, Genevieve mused that Barack was probably “very disappointed with me,” for given Siddiqi’s dismissive attitude toward life, Barack no doubt “thought Sohale was an empty shell for a man.” In Chicago, Barack’s work environs offered him better opportunities for self-reflection than his once-a-week reimmersion in the easy camaraderie of the Pakistani diaspora when he met up with Asif Agha. Jerry Kellman’s invaluable sidekick Fred Simari saw Barack at Holy Rosary almost every weekday that fall. Simari recalled Obama as “quiet, laid back,” “extremely bright,” and as someone who “seemed like he really studied everything.” Father George Schopp had the same impression: Barack was in “learning mode,” just “watching and reflecting.” In addition to his daily work discussions with Jerry, Mike, and Mary Bernstein, Barack also interacted with Holy Rosary secretary Bonnie Nitsche and the parish’s most committed volunteer, Betty Garrett. “We took him as our son from jump street,” Betty said of herself and Bonnie. The two regularly pestered Barack and Holy Rosary’s forty-one-year-old pastor, Bill Stenzel, about their cigarette smoking, which was allowed indoors only in the rectory’s kitchen. This addiction brought Barack and Bill together more than would otherwise have been the case, but that fall Obama also visited every week with St. Helena’s forty-five-year-old Father Tom Kaminski. Like Leo Mahon and George Schopp, Bill and Tom were both progressive and challenging priests, men whose religious faith accorded far more closely with Joe Bernardin’s Catholicism than with the hierarchical, top-down archdiocese that John Patrick Cody had ruled. Bonnie Nitsche and her husband Wally thought that Bill’s strong but gentle spirit made Holy Rosary’s small multiethnic congregation into “a microcosm” of what a community would be if you “got rid of prejudices.” The rectory “was like one big office,” Bill remembered, with the organizers on one side of the first floor, and Bill and Bonnie on the other. From the beginning, Bonnie thought Barack “was more together, more poised” than his older coworkers, and Bill recalled that Barack became “very curious” about religious faith while suddenly being surrounded by so many committed Catholics. “He had a curiosity about what’s this phenomenon” and a “very respectful” attitude toward faith. Obama asked if he could attend Sunday mass, and Bill can recall him sitting with the congregation. Jerry Kellman was about to convert to Catholicism, and he understood how “the churches we dealt with were extended families,” ones that exposed Obama to “a broad sense of religion.” For Barack “his sense of church and his sense of God became very much a community experience,” and “it was a very formative period” for him, Jerry explained. Obama often drank coffee with Tom Kaminski, and they talked “about all sorts of things,” including family, but Fred Simari believes that Obama’s time in the kitchen at Holy Rosary had the most impact. “Bill Stenzel spent a tremendous amount of time with Barack,” and “some of that spiritual-type formation” that Bill exuded “wore off on Barack, there’s no doubt.” That fall, Barack continued his one-on-one conversations with pastors like Bob Klonowski of Lebanon Lutheran in Hegewisch and Catholic parishioners like Loretta Augustine at her home west of Altgeld Gardens. “It was surprising how receptive people were to talking with him,” Loretta remembered. Tom Kaminski noted “what a terrific listener he was” and watched as Barack’s acceptance spread. At the three-month mark, Obama’s $10,000 trainee salary was doubled to $20,000, the apprentice director salary that Kellman had advertised five months earlier. Meanwhile the warfare between Harold Washington and the city council majority opposed to him, led by South Chicago’s 10th Ward Alderman Ed Vrdolyak, was constantly in the headlines. Washington had accepted UNO’s invitation to speak at its annual fund-raising banquet on October 30, where the mayor would present a thank-you award to the archdiocesan Campaign for Human Development (CHD). Attendees were greeted outside by picketers led by South Deering Improvement Association president Foster Milhouse, who told reporters, “We want UNO out of our neighborhood, and we want Father Schopp and UNO out of St. Kevin’s.” The far right’s complaints continued with a letter to the editor of the Daily Calumet denouncing CCRC and UNO and calling for concerned citizens to “rid their communities of these revolutionaries.” An anti-UNO rally at the Calumet City American Legion hall featured Foster Milhouse and attracted a crowd of about a hundred, and another letter to the Daily Cal thanking the paper for its coverage warned of the philosophy of the “anti-God idolizer of Lucifer” Saul Alinsky. With UNO adding affiliates in other Hispanic neighborhoods, Mary Ellen Montes chaired an evening meeting that drew a crowd of two thousand. Mayor Washington, Governor Thompson, and powerful Illinois House speaker Michael J. Madigan all joined Lena on stage, but afterward she denounced Thompson’s refusal to commit $6 million for a new West Side technical institute. UNO and other Southeast Side groups continued to fight against any expansion of the area’s overflowing landfills, but with city officials all too aware of Chicago’s looming garbage crisis, Washington’s aides maintained an ominous silence on the issue. City officials had finally acknowledged that the well water samples from the isolated Maryland Manor neighborhood south of Altgeld Gardens “definitely contain cyanide,” but the projected cost of $460,000 to extend water and sewer lines to those taxpayers’ homes postponed any remedial action, even though the Tribune and the Chicago Defender ran prominent news stories about the problem. More than a year would pass before the work was carried out. In mid-November Obama was finally able to write a long letter to Phil Boerner. “My humblest apologies for the lack of communication these past months. Work has taken up much of my time,” but now “things have begun to settle into coherence of late.” Barack described Chicago for Phil, calling it “a handsome town” with “wide streets, lush parks,” and “Lake Michigan forming its whole east side.” Although “it’s a big city with big city problems, the scale and impact of the place is nothing like NY, mainly because of its dispersion, lack of congestion.” Chicagoans are “not as uptight, neurotic, as Manhattanites,” and “you still see country in a lot of folks’ ways,” but “to a much greater degree than NY, the various tribes remain discrete…. Of course, the most pertinent division here is that between the black tribe and the white tribe. The friction doesn’t appear to be any greater than in NY, but it’s more manifest since there’s a black mayor in power and a white City Council. And the races are spatially very separate; where I work, in the South Side, you go ten miles in any direction and will not see a single white face” excepting in Hyde Park, a considerable exaggeration on Obama’s part. “But generally the dictum holds fast—separate and unequal.” Obama said his work took him to differing neighborhoods, with residents’ concerns ranging from sanitation complaints to job-training programs. “In either situation, I walk into a room and make promises I hope they can help me keep. They generally trust me, despite the fact that they’ve seen earnest young men pass through here before, expecting to change the world and eventually succumbing to the lure of a corporate office. And in a short time, I’ve learned to care for them very much and want to do everything I can for them. It’s tough though. Lots of driving, lots of hours on the phone trying to break through lethargy, lots of dull meetings. Lots of frustration when you see a 43% drop out rate in the public schools and don’t know where to begin denting that figure. But about 5% of the time, you see something happen—a shy housewife standing up to a bumbling official, or the sudden sound of hope in the voice of a grizzled old man that gives a hint of the possibilities, of people taking hold of their lives, working together to bring about a small justice. And it’s that possibility that keeps you going through all the trenchwork.” But Obama’s most vivid image was the one Kellman had shown him three months earlier in South Deering: “closed down mills lie blanched and still as dinosaur fossils. We’ve been talking to some key unions about the possibility of working with them to keep the last major mill open, but it’s owned by LTV,” which “wants to close as soon as possible to garner the tax loss,” Barack told Phil. He ended the letter by saying his apartment was “a comfortable studio near the lake” and that “since I often work at night, I usually reserve the morning to myself for running, reading and writing.” He enclosed a draft of a short story dealing with the black church and asked Phil to mark it up and return it. “I live in mortal fear of Chicago winters,” and “I miss NY and the people in it … Love, Barack.” The letter documented several significant turning points in Barack’s new life. Most important of all was the emotional attachment Barack had already developed toward the people on whose behalf he was working: I “care for them very much and want to do everything I can for them.” The second was that now, more than three months in, Obama was much more comfortable with his weekday work. As his close friend Asif Agha remembered, “in the beginning, he was enormously frustrated because the whole scene was completely chaotic,” but in “struggling with those frustrations,” Asif witnessed Barack “coming together around them as a purposeful person.” Kellman was focused on the jobs bank and his initial contacts with Maury Richards’s Local 1033 at LTV Republic Steel, but Obama’s workday involved interactions with DCP’s core participants—Loretta Augustine and Yvonne Lloyd from Golden Gate and Eden Green, down near Altgeld Gardens, Dan Lee and Cathy Askew from St. Catherine of Genoa in struggling West Pullman, Betty Garrett and Tom Kaminski from central Roseland, and Marlene Dillard from the solidly working-class London Towne Homes well to the east—which presented daily challenges that were mundane as well as relentlessly unceasing. Yet as close as Obama became with Loretta and Dan, as well as to white priests like Bill Stenzel and Tom Kaminski, he had no closer a bond with anyone than Cathy Askew, the white single mother of two “hapa” daughters—half black, half white. Askew was a small-town Indiana native whose family had shunned her after she married an African American who fathered her two daughters, then disappeared entirely from their lives. Cathy taught school at St. Catherine’s, and one of her daughters, Stephanie, had a congenital heart condition that left her less than fully robust. Early on Obama told Cathy about his own father and mother. As a result, “I don’t think of him as really like African American. He’s African, and he’s American,” she said. As he later wrote, Barack also recognized “the easy parallels between my own mother and Cathy, and between myself and Cathy’s daughters, such sweet and pretty girls whose lives were so much more difficult than mine had ever been.” Having lived with a black man, Cathy saw Barack as something else: “he didn’t look African American to me. I was really glad to find out he was a hybrid, because my kids are hybrids.” From the beginning, she thought Barack “was gawky … very quiet … very thoughtful,” she remembered. In those early months, he “was at a loss for a long time, I think, over where to focus…. I saw him doing a lot of listening to people and trying to pull things out of people. There was no focus. Everybody seemed like they wanted something different and nobody had anything in common.” Early that winter, Obama organized a meeting at St. Catherine for area residents to voice their unhappiness about police responsiveness to the district commander. Hardly a dozen people showed up, and the commander was a no-show too. Years later, Obama would repeatedly recall that evening. Loretta had been there, as well as Cathy. “He got frustrated. I think he almost quit once,” Cathy said. Obama would recount even his core members saying they were tired and ready to give up, and “I was pretty depressed.” As he remembered, across from the church, in an empty lot, two boys were tossing stones at an abandoned building. “Those boys reminded me of me…. What’s going to happen to those boys if we quit?” At the beginning of December, Chicago’s steel industry was back in the news. Eighteen months earlier, Mayor Washington had appointed a Task Force on Steel to study the industry’s future, and its report demonstrated that the entire effort had been a waste of time and energy. Early on Frank Lumpkin and his Save Our Jobs Committee colleagues had hoped the task force would show that their ideas about government investment could revive one or more Southeast Side mills. Washington sympathized with these hopes, but the task force brushed aside Lumpkin and his sympathizers. Its primary academic consultant, Ann R. Markusen, asserted that “Reaganomics and industrial leadership (or lack of it) deserve the major blame” for the plant closings and added that Chicago was “a city in deep, long-term trouble.” She also acknowledged that “national and international forces beyond the grasp of local governments are important determinants of steel job loss.” Task force member David Ranney stressed that in retrospect the “idea that the steel industry in Chicago might recover appeared absurd” and that what the Far South Side experienced during the 1980s “highlights the limits of local electoral politics.” During November and December, Maury Richards from USW Local 1033 and Jerry Kellman from CCRC met four times with Chicago’s economic development commissioner, Rob Mier, one of Washington’s most influential aides, to determine how they should react to the loss of a thousand or more jobs if there were even a partial shutdown of LTV’s East Side mill. Mier knew that this would be “a severe blow” to the city because a majority of the steelworkers lived in Chicago, and the mill paid $18 million a year in city and state taxes while contributing $300 million to the city’s economy. The union, CCRC, and Mier agreed that everything possible had to be done to convince LTV to invest $250 million to rebuild a blast furnace and acquire a continuous caster, or alternatively to sell the aging plant to a company that would. “Most of the discussants seem to realize that neither of these outcomes may be possible,” Mier told the mayor. Noting that LTV held defense contracts worth $1.3 billion, Mier reported that “both CCRC and Local 1033 are committed to coordinating a corporate campaign against LTV if LTV refuses” to invest or sell. Obama, Loretta Augustine, and Marlene Dillard went with Jerry to one or more of his meetings with 1033’s officers and city officials, though no one except Jerry spoke on CCRC’s behalf. On December 19 Kellman and Richards sent a formal letter to the mayor, copied to Mier, asking Washington to “provide the leadership,” in coordination with local congressmen, that would pull together a package of city, state, and federal financial incentives for LTV. The Christmas holidays stalled these actions, but in the press, LTV called its Chicago mill “more vulnerable” than its remaining ones in Ohio and cited its massive $2.6 billion debt burden, intimating that bankruptcy was far likelier than any investment of capital in the East Side plant. Over the holidays, Barack took off almost two weeks, flying first to Washington, D.C., to meet his—and Auma’s—older brother Roy Abon’go, who had married an African American Peace Corps volunteer named Mary. Before leaving Chicago, Barack told Tom Kaminski how apprehensive he was about seeing Roy, and the visit got off to a bad start when Roy failed to meet him at the airport. When Barack telephoned, Roy said a marital argument meant that Barack should find a hotel room rather than stay with Roy. The two brothers did have a long dinner that night, plus breakfast in the morning, before Barack headed to New York, where he would rendezvous with his mother and sister and where Beenu Mahmood and Hasan Chandoo were happy to offer free lodging and renew their close acquaintances. Maya was now a tenth grader at Punahou, and Ann was still living in Honolulu, trying to finish her Ph.D. dissertation. Two months earlier, the Internal Revenue Service had levied a $17,600 assessment against her for unpaid taxes on her 1979 and 1980 income from USAID contractor DAI, but Ann would leave the levy unpaid for years to come. Barack ended up spending more time with Hasan, Beenu, and Wahid Hamid than with his mother and sister, and though he did not see Genevieve in person, a letter he wrote to her soon after New Year’s recounted an emotional phone conversation they had had, albeit one she would be unable to recall in any detail years later. Hard guy that I am, I’ve managed to stay embittered and sullen towards you for a whole week and a half. But that’s about it. I won’t try to analyze whether what I did was correct or incorrect, right or wrong, for you or for me. I do know that I had to vent my feelings fully; otherwise I would have choked off something important inside me, permanently. Had to get my head and heart in better communication with each other, in better balance. The consensus seems to be that the whole episode was good for me. My mother and Maya enjoyed comforting me for a change. Asif, my linguist friend in Chicago, says I need the humility. Whatever had transpired, Barack wrote, “reminded me of the rare, fleeting nature of things. My own dispensability,” and “perhaps I’m more apt to believe now something you seem to have understood better than I—when happiness presents itself … grab it with both hands.” But “I still feel some frustration at the fact that you seemed to have wrapped me up in a neat package in our conversations. Stiff, routinized, controlled. The man in the grey flannel suit. A stock figure. It felt like you had forgotten who I was.” Friends, Barack wrote, “recognize who you are … even when you’re acting out of character,” as Barack apparently had. “I hope I haven’t lost that with you. I hope I remain as complicated and confusing and various and surprising in your mind as you are in mine.” He closed by saying that “phone calls will still be tough on me for the time being, but cards or letters are welcome.” He hoped to get back to New York in the summer to see the child whom Wahid and his wife Filly were expecting, and “hopefully we can spend some time more productively than this last time out. Some fun, maybe. Laughter. Ambivalently yours. But w/ unconditional love—Barack.” More than six months since they had parted, the depth of Barack’s emotional tie to Genevieve remained powerful indeed. While Obama was away, two major developments upended Chicago politics. The Chicago Sun-Times gave Harold Washington a stinker of a Christmas morning gift by revealing that an undercover FBI informant, working at the behest of the local U.S. attorney, had made cash payoffs to several city officials and aldermen. As the story played out over the coming weeks, Michael Burnett, aka Michael Raymond, had been introduced to his targets by a “friendly, easy-going” young lobbyist, Raymond Akers, whose car sported a personalized license tag: LNDFLL. Akers was the city council lobbyist for Waste Management Incorporated (WMI), which had 1985 revenues totaling $1.63 billion. Four months earlier two administration appointees had accepted as much as $10,000 in cash from Burnett, and on December 20, FBI agents had confronted 9th Ward alderman Perry Hutchinson at his Roseland home. On two occasions in early October, Hutchinson had accepted a total of $17,200 from Akers in a lakefront apartment near Chicago’s Navy Pier. Unbeknownst to Hutchinson, FBI agents in the apartment next door filmed the encounters with a camera inserted through the common wall. A week later Hutchinson accepted another $5,000 from Akers in Roseland. All told, Hutchinson had received $28,500, and he told journalists, “I figured as long as the guy was dumb enough to give me all of that money, I’d be smart enough to take it.” Hutchinson claimed he used $8,500 to hire an additional staffer and had distributed the remaining $20,000 to schools and community groups in Roseland. Reporters were unable to identify any recipients. Soon it was revealed that a second black alderman and mayoral supporter, Clifford Kelley, who had led a city council effort to discredit a top WMI competitor, had accepted cash bribes too. Then news broke that city corporation counsel James Montgomery allegedly had been aware of at least one of these payoffs months before Washington first learned of the bribes on Christmas morning. The Chicago Tribune described this as “a widening scandal that some believe could cost [Washington] re-election” a year later. Montgomery quickly resigned, but several weeks later a Tribune story headlined “Lobbyist Paid for City Aide’s Vacation” showed that a year earlier, Akers had given a travel agent $4,200 in cash to cover a weeklong trip to Acapulco for Montgomery and his family. No charges ensued. Independent white voters who loathed Chicago’s long history of public corruption had been essential to Washington’s 1983 triumph, and they would be needed for his reelection in 1987. Ironically, as the controversy built, mayoral opponents like Ed Vrdolyak remained largely silent. One opposing alderman explained to the Tribune: “If we do nothing, the mayor might ultimately bury himself.” Despite Washington’s huge popularity among African Americans, his first three years in office had been anything but successful. Some months earlier, Chicago Magazine—not a bastion of Vrdolyak supporters—had published a thoroughly negative report on Washington’s record to date. He “has been miserably inept at communicating his ideas to the city” and “his administration is plagued by excessive disorganization,” Chicago reported. Washington had “gained 30 pounds” and looked “physically run-down.” One black activist who had championed his election back in 1983, Lu Palmer, complained that Washington was relying upon “apolitical technocrats” who were “barricaded on the fifth floor of City Hall. The people aren’t part of it.” The magazine also said Washington “may be the least powerful Chicago mayor in recent history” and singled out the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) as a “full-fledged disaster.” Politically, Washington’s agenda was “to a great extent, stalled,” primarily because Vrdolyak’s city council majority kept the mayor largely “on the defensive.” When the bribery scandal broke, Washington’s administration was already besieged. Yet a federal appeals court ruling in August 1984 that black and Hispanic voters were so underrepresented by the city’s existing ward map that the Voting Rights Act was being violated seemed to provide an opening for Washington, because new elections could overturn Vrdolyak’s 29–21 council majority. In June 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the appellate finding, and the case was sent to a district judge who instructed the opposing lawyers to redraw seven wards, all of which were represented by Washington opponents. On December 30, the court ordered new elections in those wards to be held on March 18. In the interim, Washington announced that Judson H. Miner, the forty-four-year-old civil rights lawyer who had litigated the redistricting challenge, would be his new corporation counsel. But on the Far South Side, the fate of LTV Republic’s East Side steel mill was still in question. In early January, a front-page Wall Street Journal story described the company’s prospects as “dim at best,” and a week later Crain’s Chicago Business published a long report that the Daily Calumet said “sent shock waves through the Southeast Side.” Jerry Kellman told the local paper that LTV should put the mill up for sale, but Maury Richards said that the 1033 union understood that the East Side facility was “losing between $5 million and $8 million every month.” In mid-January Obama attended a three-day training event in Milwaukee for minority organizers sponsored by the Campaign for Human Development and the Industrial Areas Foundation. Soon after he returned, Chicago headlines confirmed Jerry and Maury’s fears: “LTV Announces 775 Layoffs” plus the closing of the East Side mill’s most modern blast furnace. Kellman told reporters that Illinois officials had “written off the steel industry” and GSU’s Regional Employment Network immediately scheduled four days of skills-assessment interviews at Local 1033’s office in an effort to find new jobs for laid-off workers. Yet everything Frank Lumpkin and his colleagues had experienced in the years since Wisconsin Steel’s sudden closure told them how scarce jobs were on the Far South Side and in the south suburbs. Loretta Augustine and Yvonne Lloyd encouraged Barack to focus on the sprawling Altgeld Gardens public housing project, just east of where they lived. They introduced him to their pastor at Our Lady of the Gardens, Father Dominic Carmon, and Obama also met with parents whose children attended Our Lady’s small Catholic grade school. He was introduced to Dr. Alma Jones, the feisty principal of Carver Primary School and its adjoining Wheatley Child-Parent Center, virtually all of whose students came from within Altgeld. Jones was immediately impressed with Barack. “Talking to him, he was so much older than he was. It was like talking to your peers rather than somebody the age of your children.” In a community where few people could imagine meaningful change, Jones stood out as an important voice of encouragement for a young organizer venturing into unfamiliar territory. Despite Altgeld residents’ letters to Mayor Washington complaining about “heavy drug traffic” seven days a week, no city residents were more completely ignored and forgotten than the tenants of Altgeld Gardens. Dr. Gloria Jackson Bacon, who almost single-handedly provided medical care to Altgeld residents for decades, explained that by the 1980s “many of them did not venture outside. Many of them lived almost like insular lives inside of Altgeld.” Bacon recalled others speaking pejoratively of “ ‘those people out there, those people out there,’ and I’d say, ‘These are your people.’ ” Loretta Augustine remembered once taking some Altgeld schoolchildren to the zoo and realizing that “one or two of the kids had never been downtown before.” Loretta referred to Lake Michigan, and “the kid responded, ‘Chicago has a lake?’ ” As Alma Jones told one reporter who visited her school, “Altgeld Gardens is an isolated, enclosed island. We have no stores, no jobs and one traffic signal.” Barack continued his weekly get-togethers with Asif Agha, but his social life was so meager that Kellman and Mary Bernstein discussed ways to help him meet more people his own age. “He felt to me like a nephew,” Mary remembered, with Barack calling her “Sistah,” and she calling him simply “Obama.” In her eyes, Barack “was always serious,” indeed “driven,” but above all “he was very solitary.” Bernstein recalled that Barack once asked her, “How am I going to get a date?” working in Roseland and spending his evenings at meetings or visiting DCP parishioners. “You don’t want to date any of the women I know,” Mary humorously replied. “They’re all old, and they’re all nuns.” Loretta Augustine, Yvonne Lloyd, and Nadyne Griffin were all looking out for the young man’s welfare. “I felt very protective, very motherly towards him,” Loretta later told journalist Sasha Abramsky. “We were worried that he wasn’t eating enough,” Yvonne Lloyd recalled. “We were always trying to make him eat more.” Loretta could see that Barack was “very focused” and “very serious,” and more than once she suggested he lighten up. “You shouldn’t be so somber and uptight and serious all the time.” Obama later said he was indeed “very serious about the work that I was trying to do.” Marlene Dillard’s strong interest in jobs had her spending as much time with Barack as anyone, and though she found him “very dynamic” and “very sincere,” his maturity meant she “never looked at him as a son.” But Nadyne Griffin felt just like Loretta did: “He was just like a son to me,” and Tom Kaminski found the church ladies’ solicitude heartwarming: “Everyone wanted to be his mother, everyone thought she was his mother,” and “I felt like an uncle.” Barack stayed in touch through regular long-distance phone calls with old friends like Hasan Chandoo, Wahid Hamid, and Andy Roth, and in late February, he sent Andy a long letter that was similar to the one he had written Phil Boerner three months earlier: As I may have told you on the phone, when you’re alone in a new city, the fullness or emptiness of the mailbox can set the tone for the entire day. Work continues to kick my ass. A lot of responsibility has been dumped on me: I’m to organize an area of about 70,000–100,000 folks and bring the local churches and unions into the action. I confront the standard stuff: the turpitude of established leaders (i.e. aldermen, preachers); the lassitude of the masses; the “we’ve seen middle class folks come in here before and make promises and ain’t nothin’ happened” attitude, which is true; my own inhibitions about playing for power and manipulating folks, even when it’s for what I perceive to be their own good. At least once a day I think about what I’m doing out here, and think about the pleasures of the upwardly mobile (though still liberal Democratic) lifestyle, and consider chucking all this. Fortunately, one of two things invariably snap me out of my brooding: 1) I see such squalor or degradation or corruption going on that I get damned angry and pour the energy into work; or 2) I see a sign of progress—one of my leaders, a shy housewife, dressing down some evasive bureaucrat, or a young man who’s unemployed volunteering to help distribute some flyers—and the small spark will keep me rolling for a whole day or two. Who would have ever believed that I’d be the sucker who’d believed all that crap we talked about in the Oxy cooler and keep on believing despite all the evidence to the contrary. Speaking of contrary, I’m in such a state for lack of female companionship, but that will require a whole separate exegesis. A few weeks later, Barack sent a postcard to his brother Roy and his wife Mary, and a longer message to Phil Boerner. He thanked Phil for his encouraging comments about the short story Barack had sent him, but he emphasized what a “discouraging time” he was having: Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time for writing (stories or letters) lately, what with this work continuing to kick my ass. Experienced some serious discouragement these past three weeks, mainly because of the incredible amount of time to get even the smallest concrete gain. Still, I’m putting my head down and plan to work through my frustrations for at least another year. By that time I should have a fairly good perspective on both the possibilities and limitations of the work. No one in mid-1980s Chicagoland had anywhere near the degree of success Jerry Kellman did in winning major grants from the Campaign for Human Development, the Woods Fund, the Joyce Foundation, and Tom Joyce’s small but always-pioneering Claretian Social Development Fund. Grant makers regularly visited the organizations they supported, and by early 1986, Jerry had been introducing Barack as a new mainstay in DCP’s Far South Side organizing work. Archdiocesan CHD staffers Ken Brucks and Mary Yu met Barack through Kellman, but the two most influential funders Barack got to know that winter were Woods Fund director Jean Rudd and program officer Ken Rolling. Jean had become Woods’s first staffer five years earlier. Ken, like Greg Galluzzo, was a former Catholic priest who had spent more than half a dozen years in organizing before joining Jean at Woods in 1985. Woods’s commitment to organizing was reaching full flower just as Jerry and then Barack arrived on the scene. As Jean deeply believed, “community organizing is intended to be transformational for ‘ordinary’ people. Through its training and actions, people recognize their worthiness, their legitimacy, their place in a democracy, their power, their voice.” That was the work, and the teaching, that she and Ken wanted to support and champion. Decades later Jean remembered when Jerry first brought Barack to meet them. “In that first meeting, I was very, very impressed…. He was very, very reflective, very candid … very winningly … humble about what he had to catch up on” about organizing and about Chicago. “I believe I said to my husband, ‘I’ve really met the most amazing person today.’ ” But most of Woods’s actual contact with DCP, CCRC, and other grantees like Madeline Talbott’s ACORN was handled by Ken Rolling, who was even more impressed upon first meeting Barack. “I’ve just met the first African American president,” he told his wife Rochelle Davis that evening. Ken said much the same thing to CHD staffer Sharon Jacobson, who a quarter century later remembered it just as Ken and Rochelle had: “I want you to watch this guy, Sharon. He’s going to be president of the United States one day.” Jacobson played a leading role in CHD’s grant making in Chicago, and Renee Brereton, based in Washington, was the crucial staffer for allocating national funds. She had directed $42,000 to CCRC in 1984, $40,000 in 1985, and by early 1986, Brereton and Jacobson were overseeing that year’s grant to DCP. She gave DCP’s application 90 out of a possible 100 points, citing as the only shortcoming the confusing organizational overlap between CCRC and DCP. Brereton believed that “DCP is expanding its power base through coalition work with unions, and public housing projects,” and she was impressed with the leadership training Kellman had done with parishioners from DCP’s Catholic churches. “The staff is strong with a commitment to hiring minority staff,” and she recommended at least another $30,000. Sharon Jacobson oversaw the local Chicago committee that ratified Brereton’s recommendations, and she noted DCP’s intent to develop an employment training and placement program for residents of Altgeld Gardens as well as its desire to improve Far South Side public schools. She wrote that “the large geographical area” DCP sought to cover “is too broad” and threatened to dissipate DCP’s efforts rather than focus them, but DCP was Chicagoland’s “strongest organizing project. In the past year, we have witnessed thorough leadership training, successful multi-issue campaigns, and widespread grassroots community support,” and $33,000 was committed to DCP. Jacobson also wrote to Brereton that Obama’s attendance at the CHD-IAF minority organizer training in Milwaukee had proven notable; out of twenty attendees, he and one other “had demonstrated the most potential,” leading Jacobson and Mary Yu to recommend that Barack be invited to attend IAF’s premier training event, a ten-day course that took place each July at Mount St. Mary’s College in the Santa Monica Mountains above Los Angeles. CHD would pay Barack’s $500 tuition, $400 room and board, and also cover his travel expenses. On March 18, special elections were held in the seven redrawn city council wards. Washington’s backers captured two seats from Vrdolyak’s 29–21 majority, but two other pro-Washington candidates fell short of the necessary 50 percent plus 1 and were forced into runoff contests to be held on April 29. Victory was assured for the Washington supporter in the black-majority 15th Ward, but in the 26th Ward, two Puerto Rican candidates, one of whom was sponsored by powerful Vrdolyak ally Richard Mell, faced off amid a cascade of election-misconduct allegations. The Chicago Tribune labeled the 26th Ward contest “the most closely watched election in Chicago history,” with both Washington and Vrdolyak campaigning there two days before the rematch, and Washington’s young election lawyer, Tom Johnson, a 1975 graduate of Harvard Law School, keeping a close eye on the proceedings. When Washington’s ally, Luis Gutierrez, prevailed by a surprisingly comfortable margin of more than 850 votes, the mayor attained a 25–25 city council split, putting him in position to cast a decisive tie-breaking vote—at least until the next regularly scheduled city elections just one year later. While most of Chicago focused on the Washington vs. Vrdolyak contest, another vote—by United Steelworkers members on a dramatically concessionary new contract with LTV—was building to its own climax on April 4. One week earlier, on March 28—the sixth anniversary of Wisconsin Steel’s closure—Harold Washington met with Frank Lumpkin’s Save Our Jobs Committee. At LTV Republic’s East Side mill, Maury Richards campaigned against the proposed 9 percent reduction in workers’ hourly wage rates and benefits. But even though 1033’s members voted against the new contract 1,254 to 750, well over 60 percent of LTV’s nineteen thousand steelworkers in other states approved it. As winter turned to spring, DCP began to focus on the forlorn state of the Far South Side’s public parks, a visible example of basic city services being denied to black and Hispanic neighborhoods but not white ones. The city’s parks were overseen by a quasi-independent entity, the Chicago Park District (CPD), which remained a notorious nesting ground for white Democratic ward organization loyalists, even after Washington’s three years in office. Two energetic DCP members—Nadyne Griffin, who had a special interest in Robichaux Park, up at 95th Street, and Eva Sturgies, who lived across the street from Smith Park, at 99th and Princeton—had brought this issue to Obama’s attention. DCP began distributing leaflets in the solidly middle-class blocks around Smith Park, encouraging the community to attend a meeting to address the problem. Aletha Strong Gibson, a college graduate homemaker in her early thirties who lived one block south on Princeton, knew that Smith Park “really wasn’t very safe or conducive for young children” like her six- and four-year-olds. Gibson went to the meeting and spoke up. Afterward Barack “said he’d like to come meet with me about doing some more work on the parks issue,” and following that one-on-one Aletha became a key recruit. One day early that spring, when Barack was visiting the handsome old Monadnock Building in the downtown Loop, which housed many small progressive organizations, he stopped into the offices of the ten-year-old Friends of the Parks (FOP) and introduced himself to John Owens, a twenty-nine-year-old army veteran who had become FOP’s community planning director a year earlier after finishing a degree in urban geography at Chicago State University. Owens was immediately impressed with Obama. “This guy sounds like he’s president of the country already,” Owens recounted just four years later. “He had an air of authority and a presence that made you want to listen.” Barack talked about the discriminatory treatment accorded Far South Side parks, and Owens explained some of what he knew about “the ins and outs of the Chicago Park District.” Barack had “all kinds of personality,” and “we sort of clicked,” Owens explained. Barack invited John down to Roseland, and they worked together to start compiling a list of parks the CPD was ignoring: Abbott Park, east of the Dan Ryan Expressway; West Pullman Park, on Princeton Avenue; Carver Park, down in Altgeld Gardens; and the huge Palmer Park, just north of Holy Rosary. One afternoon in Palmer Park, gunshots sounded nearby, and they both ducked behind parked cars. Owen recalled Obama saying, “ ‘You hear that? Whoa!’ ” and remembers thinking, “ ‘Well, he hasn’t been around here very long.’ ” John and Barack hit it off. Some evenings they went to music clubs together. “I could see he was somebody that I could learn a lot from,” said Owens, and Obama also could learn from Owens, a native of the South Side’s middle-class Chatham neighborhood, about his life experiences as a black man who had grown up in Chicago. Johnnie—as he was often called—quickly became Barack’s first truly close black male friend, at least since the cosmopolitan Eric Moore at Oxy. Before the end of April, Barack asked Johnnie to attend the upcoming July IAF training in Los Angeles, and Owens readily agreed. In early May, Jerry Kellman’s CCRC got another major grant: $30,000 from the Joyce Foundation to support Mike Kruglik’s organizing work in Chicago’s south suburbs. But Kellman also used his connections within Chicago’s Catholic archdiocese to re-create, in somewhat different form, Tom Joyce and Leo Mahon’s original vision of CCRC as an organization straddling the Illinois–Indiana state line to encompass the entire Calumet industrial region. Jerry had been thinking about restarting work in Indiana even when Barack first arrived, but underlying that was a fundamental truth that Leo and Tom had experienced and that Greg Galluzzo best articulated in explaining that “what was joined together industrially and geographically is not together politically.” Chicagoans, especially black Chicagoans, who were deeply proud of their first black mayor, identified with their city. Residents of the south suburbs, many of whom had fled Chicago in earlier years, focused on their own townships and the larger overlay of Cook County, not the city’s government. Indiana residents paid little attention to Chicago politics and even less to Illinois. These regional identities were more significant than Leo and Tom’s belief in a “Calumet community.” Also the diocese of Gary, in northwest Indiana, was organizationally separate from the Chicago archdiocese, with independent financial access to local and national CHD resources. By early May, Kellman had successfully attained funding from Father Tom Joyce’s Claretian Social Development Fund for what he called the “Northwest Indiana Organizing Project,” and thanks to Bishop Wilton Gregory, one of Cardinal Bernardin’s deputies, Bernardin requested that Norbert F. Gaughan, who had become bishop of Gary in October 1984, meet with Gregory and Kellman so that CCRC’s work could be reborn east of the Illinois state line. Gaughan agreed to commit his own diocesan funds to the effort, and sent a letter to the pastors of all his parishes, encouraging them to work with Kellman, who began establishing ties with existing groups such as East Chicago’s United Citizens Organization. But neither UCO nor the larger Calumet Project for Industrial Jobs, with a predominant union focus, used the church-based organizing model Kellman had deployed so successfully in creating DCP. Kellman’s and Kruglik’s Illinois efforts outside Chicago would be given a new, regionally distinct identity as the South Suburban Action Conference (SSAC), with Jerry as its executive director until his shift to Gary was complete. Everyone agreed that all three pieces—Barack’s, Mike’s, and Jerry’s—would flourish better on their own than under the old “Calumet Community” rubric. By late spring 1986, it was clear that Frank Lumpkin’s cynical complaint that CCRC’s Regional Employment Network only created employment opportunities for its own employees was true. One headline announced that “Regional Employment Network Reports Initial Success,” but, as the article made clear, the organization’s definition of “success” was its data bank of 1,350 job seekers, not actual job offers. Governors State University appealed to state officials for an additional $375,000 to extend the program past the summer of 1986, but the request received no support. Obama would later remember REN as “a bust” that failed to find work for even one applicant. The savvy Fred Simari recalled how “there was an elaborate system to assess their needs,” but it “was all smoke and mirrors, the whole thing.” By mid-April, Barack had been working for several months to broaden DCP’s outreach with Altgeld Gardens residents, but with only modest success. Then one lady, Callie Smith, handed him an ad she had seen in April 14’s Chicago Sun-Times. “Specification No. 8632” sought bids for the “Removal of Ceiling and Pipe Insulation Containing Asbestos at the Management Office Building of Altgeld Gardens, 940 E. 132nd Street.” The bids were due April 30, and specifics could be obtained at Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) headquarters in the Loop. Potentially cancer-causing asbestos had been discovered in December 1985, but Altgeld was not the only CHA property with such a problem: asbestos had just been uncovered in two apartments at the Ida B. Wells Extension Homes in the Bronzeville neighborhood. Linda Randle, an organizer at the nearby Centers for New Horizons and who lived in another part of Wells, told her friend Martha Allen, who wrote for the Community Renewal Society’s (CRS) monthly Chicago Reporter, about the asbestos. Allen arranged for laboratory testing of a sample from Wells, and the results were shocking: “to find that much amosite [a type of asbestos] there is astounding,” one scientist stated. Obama met Randle at a CRS-hosted meeting of organizers, and when Linda mentioned the discovery at Wells, Barack pulled out the Sun-Times ad and said, “the same thing is happening in Altgeld.” Linda and Barack agreed to be in touch, and back in Altgeld, Callie Smith called CHA manager Walter Williams to ask if the CHA had determined whether or not asbestos was present throughout the hundreds of homes as well as in the management office. In his own later telling, Obama accompanied Callie to a meeting where Williams said the CHA had checked and none had been found. Smith and Obama understandably doubted that assertion and sought documentation to back up Williams’s claim. On May 9, several residents met with Gaylene Domer, executive assistant to CHA executive director Zirl Smith, to request immediate, independent testing of Altgeld residential buildings and public release of the results. They also asked that Smith appear at an Altgeld community meeting to respond to residents’ concerns. After a week with no response, Callie Smith, Loretta Augustine, and two other members of the Altgeld Developing Communities Project sent a Western Union Mailgram to Smith, with a copy to Mayor Washington. Citing the May 9 meeting, followed by CHA’s silence, their message repeated the two requests and asked for a written response within five days. On May 20 they wrote to Washington on CCRC letterhead and asked his staff to intervene. Coincidentally or not, that same day CHA contacted a testing firm, and within twenty-four hours two vacant apartments and two boiler rooms were surveyed, with asbestos readily apparent in three of the four locations. Although most of the asbestos pipe insulation was in good condition, the inspectors warned that in residences it “is highly subject to damage” and should be removed whenever apartments become vacant. That same day a Developing Communites Project press release noted the Altgeld complaints and said residents would visit CHA’s downtown headquarters the next morning. The Chicago Defender quoted liberally from Callie Smith’s statements in the release: “Basically we feel like we’ve been lied to and given the run-around,” she said. “We think it’s typical of the arrogance of the CHA to remove hazardous materials from its own offices without even checking to see if residents have the same problems.” WBBM Newsradio 780 began covering the story from daybreak onward. Obama had booked a yellow school bus to take his community members to CHA headquarters downtown, and he had multiple copies of an outline of the residents’ demands. But only a modest number of people, including Callie Smith and Hazel Johnson of PCR, plus several children, showed up for the trip. When they arrived, they were brusquely told that Zirl Smith was unavailable, but the presence of one or more TV crews motivated officials to promise that testing would move ahead and that Smith would attend a community meeting in Altgeld on June 9. Obama, in his own account nine years later, gave the CHA visit an oddly outsized importance, writing that “I changed as a result of that bus trip, in a fundamental way,” since it had suggested “what might be possible and therefore spurs you on. That bus ride kept me going, I think. Maybe it still does.” He also wrote that only eight people, rather than “about 20 Altgeld residents” as reported in the press, made up his group. On the next night’s 10:00 P.M. WBBM Channel 2 newscast, reporter Walter Jacobson recounted his inability to get anyone from CHA to respond to residents’ complaints about what “literally may be a question of life or death.” Instead, “the public affairs director of the CHA is getting her lunch while the people who live in the CHA continue getting poisoned by asbestos.” It was powerful television. A CHA press release the next day said the issue was “resolved” and that test results demonstrated “no asbestos exposure danger.” Zirl Smith appeared on WBBM’s 10:00 P.M. newscast and insisted that “residents know we’re here to serve them” and that “we are good managers: we feel a responsibility to our residents.” Three days later, WBBM revealed on its 6:00 P.M. show that it had paid for testing at both Altgeld and Wells and had gotten dire results. “This is definitely a threat to human health, a threat to the health of the people who live there,” a medical expert told viewers. “It’s a situation that should be corrected as soon as possible.” Within an hour, CHA ordered emergency inspections, and on WBBM’s 10:00 P.M. news, 2nd Ward alderman Bobby Rush called CHA’s behavior “criminal.” When the CHA’s inspectors finally began work at Altgeld on June 4, they found “many samples of exposed asbestos,” Walter Jacobson told WBBM viewers. While that was taking place, Obama and three Altgeld residents—Hazel Johnson, Evangeline “Vangie” Irving, and Cleonia Graham—were at City Hall trying to invite Washington to attend the Altgeld community meeting. With TV cameras rolling, the four were sent to an impromptu meeting in a tiny room with Washington’s city council floor leader, 4th Ward alderman Tim Evans. “We are sincere about having this taken care of,” Vangie Irving explained. Hazel Johnson added, as journalists looked on: “We’re asking the mayor to save our children and ourselves. We don’t have faith in promises from CHA management. With the mayor’s support, I think we’ll get some action.” Evans promised to take their concerns to the mayor, and Obama was mentioned in the next day’s Sun-Times and Defender. The former identified him as a “community organizer,” but Evans would remember having the impression Barack was “related to someone who actually resides in CHA because that was the way he was relating to these people, like a member of their family. It was clear they had talked before that meeting about who would deal with what aspect of the plight” and when one participant got nervous, “this young man got up and sat next to the person who was supposed to speak…. ‘Let Alderman Evans know what concerns you have.’ He was not there to impose himself on them, he was there to facilitate their discussions with the so-called powers that be.” The next day Zirl Smith made a bad situation worse by admitting to a city council committee that CHA had discovered the asbestos six months earlier and then blaming residents “for disturbing the asbestos-covered pipes, creating a crisis themselves.” Bobby Rush responded that it was “very irresponsible” to allege that tenants were purposely “exposing themselves and their children to possible cancer,” and after the session, Smith hid in a men’s room to avoid WBBM reporter Jim Avila and his camera crew. On Monday night, Avila as well as crews from two other TV stations were waiting at Our Lady of the Gardens school gymnasium for Smith’s 6:30 P.M. appearance. Callie Smith and others had gone door to door in Altgeld, encouraging residents to turn out, and approximately seven hundred people jammed into the “hot, steamy” gym. But by 7:30 P.M. there was no sign of Smith, and the crowd was “boiling over” when he finally arrived, seventy-five minutes late. Once he was at the podium, moderator Callie Smith asked him, “Do you have a plan to remove the asbestos that’s in our homes?” and handed him the microphone. In the Tribune’s description of the scene, “Smith shrugged and said, ‘I don’t know. We have not completed all the tests on the apartments. As soon as this is complete, we will start the abatement process.’ ” That response infuriated the crowd, and shouts of “No” drowned him out. Obama had told Callie and her colleague Vangie Irving, “Try not to let the director hog the microphone,” but Smith resumed his answer—“We’ve started in Altgeld and we’re going from apartment to apartment to determine the severity of the asbestos.” Callie, standing to Smith’s left, reached her right hand to take the microphone from Smith, who parried her with his left hand—“We will install an abatement plan that you’ll be—excuse me, excuse me” and sought to retain the mike as the crowd began chanting, “Take it away, right away.” Then Vangie Irving reached in, grasped it, and handed it to Callie. As she did so, Smith stood up and slowly walked out. The uproar grew, an older man in the crowd collapsed, and the meeting was over. Outside, Smith had his driver call for an ambulance as some residents chanted, “No more rent.” Smith told reporters, “I’m perfectly willing to meet with them, but I can’t under these circumstances.” Tuesday’s Sun-Times reported Smith saying “that ‘people who do not live in Altgeld’ were behind the meeting.” As Smith’s black Ford LTD pulled away, Obama called his volunteers together and told Callie that he had messed up and should have coached her on how to deal with Smith and the microphone. Dan Lee told Barack not to blame himself, that they had prepared for every possibility except Smith physically commandeering the mike. Adrienne Jackson believed the crowd had felt empowered by what had happened, that “they had stood up to somebody,” and she viewed the evening “as a success.” The 10:00 P.M. newscasts offered a different verdict on the meeting. WBBM’s coverage said the residents had kept Smith from speaking; WMAQ’s Carol Marin said the moderators had not allowed Smith to use the microphone, and so “Smith walked out.” Barack was more disconsolate than he should have been, and when he got back to his Hyde Park apartment, he called Johnnie Owens, who had turned down Barack’s invitation to attend. “He was certainly very clearly upset over what had happened,” Owens recalled. “He sounded angry at himself … and felt there was more that he could have done to prepare the leadership and sort of anticipate the problems that occurred.” To everyone else, the Altgeld meeting was a blip in the daily news cycle, and coverage of CHA’s testing and abatement work—the asbestos was far worse at Ida B. Wells than at Altgeld—continued throughout the summer as CHA sought federal funding to help cover the costs. In the midst of the asbestos campaign, Obama bought his airplane ticket to Los Angeles for the IAF training in mid-July, with the Chicago archdiocese’s CHD staff reimbursing its $196 cost. He also sent a late May postcard to Phil Boerner, writing, “Work continues to be rough, but I’m learning at a steady clip and am starting to see some results. We were on the tube and made the papers this week” and “I took a busload of public housing tenants downtown to protest living conditions. Still following up on this.” A few days later, he sent a lengthier greeting card to Genevieve, whose birthday was on June 7: The pace of my life has quickened these past few months; feel like I’ve broken through the lengthy “Buddhist” phase—acting more forcefully, letting myself make mistakes. I’ve stopped eating peanuts, I’m working like a bitch, still writing when I have the time. Made some good new friends; still miss my old ones. And trying to develop a new kind of discipline in myself—not the stiff martial discipline I’d let myself get locked into, but more the discipline to decide what feels right, to dig deep, take risks and make sure that I’m enjoying myself. A good time, a hungry time, and I give much credit to you for it (your pokes and prods had a subtle but sure effect). Barack closed by asking, “Still going to stop teaching next year?” and offering “Regards to Sohale, the family, etc. Love—Barack.” A week or so after the Altgeld meeting, Barack went to dinner with Asif Agha, his girlfriend Tammy Hamlish, an anthropology graduate student, and a mutual friend and classmate whom they wanted to introduce to Barack. Almost a year had passed since twenty-four-year-old Barack had last enjoyed any “female companionship,” as he put it in a note three months earlier to Andy Roth. But Asif and Tammy’s initiative would have momentous consequences, almost as great as Barack’s decision a year earlier to leave New York and find an entirely new life in Chicago. Sheila Miyoshi Jager was two years younger than Barack and a 1984 graduate of Bennington College in Vermont. She had attended two years of middle school in France and had spent 1984–85 in Paris, writing a thesis in French on Claude Lévi-Strauss toward an M.A. from Middlebury College. Lévi-Strauss suggested she pursue anthropology and recommended she study Korea, a country he had just visited, and he recommended her highly to his friend Marshall Sahlins, a well-known anthropologist at the University of Chicago. In September 1985 Sheila arrived there to begin the doctoral program in anthropology. Sheila grew up in Northern California, where her father, Bernd, a polymath psychologist whose Ph.D. dissertation at Duquesne University had dealt with Freudian psychoanalysis, worked as a clinical psychologist at two state hospitals and taught psychology at California State University’s Sonoma County campus. Born in Groningen, the Netherlands, in 1931, Bernd was not yet nine when the Nazis occupied Holland in May 1940. Three years later he watched “hundreds of our Jewish neighbors being herded like cattle to the train station” in the middle of the night, and he would always “vividly remember the German soldiers as they loudly goose-stepped” through town. Bernd’s father, Hendrik, played a major role in an underground network that sheltered dozens of Jewish children from the Nazis. One young girl, Greetje de Haas, lived with Hendrik, his wife Geesje, and their two sons for three years. The Jagers’ courageous involvement was posthumously recognized when Israel’s Yad Vashem honored them with inclusion on the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous in Jerusalem. After World War II, Bernd studied at the Royal Institute for Tropical Agriculture outside Amsterdam before spending two years working under Albert Schweitzer at Lambaréné, in what was then French Equatorial Africa. He fell in love with an African woman whom he sought to marry, but that came to naught. From there Bernd came to the U.S., and during a year’s study at Berea College in Kentucky, he met and married Shinko Sakata, a Japanese woman six years his junior. Together they moved to Groningen, where Bernd earned an M.A. before they returned to the U.S., eventually settling into a handsomely situated three-bedroom home in Santa Rosa, ten miles north of Cal State’s Rohnert Park campus. Five years after Sheila’s birth, a younger brother named David joined the family, and in time Shinko Jager became a well-known Sonoma County potter. Bernd’s closest friend, Michael Dees, who also worked at one of the hospitals, witnessed all of Sheila’s childhood. “I’ve known her since she was one,” he recounted years later. Bernd and Shinko “had strict parameters with her,” he recalled, and “did a very good job raising Sheila.” Mike would remain close to her even half a century later: “She’s like a daughter to me.” Barack quickly became deeply taken with the bright, beautiful, and intense half-Dutch, half-Japanese Sheila. She wore her dark hair in a short pageboy-style cut, and as Barack would later write, she had “specks of green in her eyes.” Three or four times in June and early July, they went on double dates with Asif and Tammy. Hanging out with a trio of anthropologists was no problem for the son of Ann Dunham, Asif recalled, because Barack “knew the idiom, he knew the concerns, and he was right at home.” Asif encouraged Barack’s interest in Sheila, joshingly telling him from recent experience that asking “Can I kiss you now?” was a surefire way to pose the question. As Asif remembered it, Barack soon let him know it had worked. Barack and Sheila—“two mixed-race kids,” she would later say—were together almost every day in the two or three weeks before he left for Los Angeles on July 8. In the aftermath of the asbestos campaign, Barack finally had time to turn his attention to two other DCP efforts. Prior to asbestos, Barack had thought that DCP’s best chance to organize within Altgeld was to focus on residents’ lack of employment opportunities and on how the city’s primary jobs-referral agency, the Mayor’s Office of Employment and Training (MOET), offered no services on the Far South Side below 95th Street. DCP had made contact with MOET officials, and finally a visit to Our Lady of the Gardens in Altgeld by MOET director Maria B. Cerda was scheduled for August. By early July, the DCP women interested in tackling the discriminatory behavior of the Chicago Park District (CPD) were also ready to move. Harold Washington, after his late April city council victory, was now able to win approval of two new CPD board members. Washington’s appointees, architect Walter Netsch and African American arts figure Margaret Burroughs—Frank Marshall Davis’s old friend “Flo” in Sex Rebel: Black—would give him a board majority that could sideline CPD superintendent Ed Kelly and transfer his authority to Washington aide Jesse Madison. This would effectively undermine the core of Chicago’s traditional Democratic machine, for journalists believed that a thousand of the CPD’s thirty-four hundred full-time employees were precinct captains and political operatives, particularly from Kelly’s own 47th Ward. When, on June 16, the new board majority did just that, Kelly filed suit challenging the action’s legitimacy. In the meantime, on July 2, DCP gave Netsch and Burroughs a tour of disheveled Far South Side parks before they spoke at a DCP community meeting at St. Helena of the Cross. The two new members told DCP to bring a list of needed repairs that CPD staffers had failed to make to the next CPD board meeting on July 10. The next day a judge upheld the board’s removal of Ed Kelly, who lashed out angrily at the mayor. “Washington’s ruined this city,” Kelly told reporters. “He’s going to be gone. We’ve got to get him out.” On July 10, after Obama was already in Los Angeles, St. Helena parishioner Eva Sturgies took charge of DCP’s presentation. She had carefully prepared a list of forty-one requests regarding eight different parks that DCP had given to CPD employees two months earlier—and only ten had been completed. At the meeting, Sturgies summarized the disappointing inaction: “The summer is already half over, and we have only seen work done on the most cosmetic aspects” of DCP’s list. She indicated that DCP knew, thanks to Freedom of Information Act requests it had submitted, that CPD staffers had not even prepared work orders for the other items. Sturgies said that Far South Side citizens want “the same kind of service that other neighborhoods in the city get.” Four days later, a court ruling reaffirmed the authority of Harold Washington’s new appointees, and the next week Ed Kelly surrendered his post, promising, “I don’t get angry. I get even.” Washington quickly named George Galland, corporation counsel Judson Miner’s former law partner, as the Park District’s new attorney. Galland announced that thousands of supposed jobs on the CPD’s payroll were “blatantly illegal,” and vowed to clean house. “It has been one of the most valuable havens for employment by the Democratic organization,” Galland tartly commented. Before Obama left for Los Angeles, he and Jerry Kellman attended a ceremony where Joseph Cardinal Bernardin publicly presented the CHD grants, including the latest $33,000 to DCP for organizing in Altgeld Gardens and for Barack’s prospective plan “to improve high school and college opportunities for minority students,” a CHD press release noted. Then, following the holiday weekend, Barack left for Los Angeles on Tuesday, July 8. In the fourteen years following Saul Alinsky’s 1972 death, IAF had abandoned its Chicago roots, but attending an IAF training was still a rite of passage even for experienced organizers. Three years earlier Greg Galluzzo, Mary Gonzales, and their younger UNO colleague Danny Solis had taken it thanks to Peter Martinez, and in 1985 UNO’s Phil Mullins attended as well. Mount St. Mary’s College was IAF’s long-standing summer location, with trainees arriving on a Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday was devoted to two basic staples of IAF teaching: “World As Is/World As Should Be ‘Power’ Session” and “Power and Self-Interest.” The 125 or so attendees were divided into groups of about 25, with the IAF’s five senior “cabinet members”—Ed Chambers, Ernie Cortes, Mike Gecan, Arnie Graf, and Larry McNeil—rotating among them. Obama was already familiar with Alinsky’s major themes and principles, thanks to Kellman, Kruglik, and the three-day Milwaukee event six months earlier. Ed Chambers, Alinsky’s lead inheritor, had articulated them in a small 1978 volume titled Organizing for Family and Congregation. Alinsky’s best-known principle was that “power tends to come in two forms: organized people and organized money.” But Alinsky had never fully grasped a second point that was now emphasized by Kellman, Galluzzo, and Chambers: “one of the largest reservoirs of untapped power is the institution of the parish and congregation,” because “they have the people, the values, and the money.” Mike Gecan acknowledged that Alinsky had failed to “create organizations that endured,” and by 1986 IAF was striving for permanency through growth: “as the number of local churches in the organization increases, the organization becomes increasingly self-sufficient” thanks to each congregation’s financial support. Obama already knew that the number of organizers a group could hire was dependent on its funding. Barack understood how organizers had to prioritize “the finding and developing of a strong collective leadership,” and thanks to the many one-on-ones Kellman had had him conduct, he appreciated how “the single most important element in the interview is the interviewer’s capacity to listen.” As Jerry and Mike had made clear, it was crucial to “select and engage in battles that can be won,” instead of larger problems—like the closure of Wisconsin Steel—that were obviously insoluble. Resolving small issues would “season people in victory.” Failures sapped morale and enthusiasm, whereas with small victories “a sense of competence and confidence grows.” For individuals already working as organizers, the ten-day IAF training was “designed to force reflection on what you have done, what you didn’t do, and ways and means of approaching reality and institutions based on a clear understanding of the tension between self-interest and self-sacrifice. The first week is spent in getting people to look at who they are, what their visions are, are they willing to reorganize themselves and their visions.” The first day’s sessions would “force people to reflect and open up to the world as it is against the world as it should be,” and participants read a portion of Viktor Frankl’s famous 1946 book Man’s Search for Meaning. From there, the training explored “the difference between issues and problems” before sessions on “how to spot and develop leaders” and “how to do a power analysis of a particular community.” Next were the more confrontational elements of the Alinsky model: choosing “enemies” and “creating crises.” The fourth day was devoted to individual meetings between attendees and the IAF trainers. Mike Gecan, who remembered Obama from their brief meeting eighteen months earlier at NYPIRG, was struck by how Barack now seemed “very intellectual, very abstractly intense. He’d be very intense about an idea,” such as identity, but “very detached about the people.” Instead of personalizing a subject, “he’d be lost in the idea,” exhibiting “very little connection” and seemingly “abstracted from relationships and others,” Gecan recalled. Early in the training, before a session with Arnie Graf, Obama learned from either Gecan or Ernie Cortes that Graf was married to an African American woman and had several interracial children. Graf remembers that Barack sought him out, and from Friday onward, the two had “a series of conversations … that were not related to the training. He had lots of questions … he’s very curious about interracial relationships and children and how you raise a child.” Graf remembers Obama wanting to know how Arnie felt “as a white person, raising interracial children and being in a solidified marriage.” Barack did not say much about his own childhood, but he wanted to hear about Arnie’s experience: “How do my children see themselves, how do they identify themselves and how do I feel about that and how does my wife feel about it?” Arnie and his wife Martha had met in graduate school, and by 1986 they had been married for thirteen years and had three children: two boys and a girl, ages ten, seven, and three. Barack wondered how they raised them “to understand who they are?” Arnie replied that given his children’s ages, “I’m not sure how they see themselves quite yet,” but that they knew their racially distinct grandparents well. Barack explained, “People look at me and approach me as an African American, but I don’t have that history” and “I have to develop a way of understanding because that isn’t my experience.” Individuals who did not know Obama viewed him as black, but until he arrived in Chicago, the only African Americans he had really known were Frank Marshall Davis, Keith Kakugawa, and Eric Moore. Obama and Graf’s initial conversation about race and identity ran close to two hours. Barack’s friend Johnnie Owens was at the training too, and on Saturday afternoon, they went to Will Rogers State Beach to try out the Pacific Ocean. Johnnie was already impressed by Barack’s insistence on some form of exercise “every single day,” and one evening, Obama reproached Owens for eating dessert. Once in the water, Johnnie was astounded by Barack’s self-confidence as a swimmer: “he goes way out there,” Owens remembered. “He’s used to being in that ocean,” as all his Punahou friends could attest. Owens also went along when Obama asked for a tour of some of South Central L.A.’s most gang-infested neighborhoods. “It was a real experience. I was freaked out,” Owens recalls. In the second week, Obama had another long conversation with Arnie Graf, again focused on “family and race.” But Barack also asked Arnie to talk about his experiences helping build a chapter of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, as a college student in Buffalo in the early 1960s. The IAF wanted to add minority organizers to its staff, and Arnie suggested that Barack come work with him in Baltimore. Barack said he had moved around a lot in life and wanted to stay in Chicago: “I have to have some place where I want to be that feels like home.” Graf asked whether Barack envisioned a career as an organizer, and Obama said no. “I’d like to organize for another couple of years, because I think I need to get that under my belt. I need to understand on the ground how to relate.” Then, according to Graf, Obama said he thought he would go to a top law school and become a civil rights lawyer and perhaps a judge, a career his grandmother and mother had repeatedly mentioned to him. Monday was devoted to analyzing how an Alinsky organization chose an “enemy” and how it could use a confrontation in a way that leads to a relationship with someone who had been ignoring you. “It’s a relational tool, not a tactic,” Mike Gecan explained. “The purpose of polarizing is to get into a relationship and then depolarize it.” Tuesday focused on values and congregations, Wednesday on IAF as an organization. Before the training ended at midday Thursday, Obama spoke again with Arnie Graf and said he had most enjoyed the theoretical basis that underlay the world-as-it-is-versus-the-world-as-it-should-be dialectic, but that he was uncomfortable with how IAF conceptualized enemies and confrontation. Both Graf and Gecan wanted to recruit Barack to IAF, even though they worried that he seemed to grasp everything “more in the intellect than in the gut,” as Graf put it. “There’s something missing here,” Graf thought, because Barack “always seemed one step removed from himself.” Thursday afternoon Obama flew back to Chicago. It had been an edifying ten days, an experience that underscored how “the key to Alinskyism is a kind of pragmatic rationality” and that an organizer “must be pragmatic and nonideological.” In Chicago, Barack was met by a Tribune front page that announced: “LTV Files for Bankruptcy.” Financial analysts said this “virtually assures” the closure or sale of the mill, and on Saturday, the news turned worse when LTV terminated the medical benefits and life insurance of its more than sixty thousand retired workers nationwide, an action that Local 1033 president Maury Richards denounced as “outrageous and inhuman.” On Tuesday, when reports circulated that U.S. Steel would soon lay off up to two-thirds of the 757 men still employed at South Works, the USW threatened to strike. In quick succession, the USW then struck LTV’s profitable Indiana Harbor mill in East Chicago, but not the East Side plant, where several retired managers who also had lost their health benefits joined Richards and hundreds of 1033 pickets while other colleagues kept the mill running. When a federal bankruptcy judge ordered LTV to restore the retirees’ benefits, the USW terminated its strike, but then two days later struck U.S. Steel, and South Works shut down. The next week LTV announced that it would lay off 1,650 of the 2,300 remaining workers at the East Side mill before the end of the year. This meant the end for Chicago’s last integrated steel plant. Richards told reporters that many 1033 members “feel helpless and without hope,” a familiar refrain to everyone who had witnessed Wisconsin’s closure six years earlier. Jerry Kellman said LTV’s East Side mill had no future “unless the governor takes action,” but Thompson gave no sign of doing so and Kellman’s outreach to Local 1033 lessened. “It didn’t lead to any lasting working relationship there,” Richards remembered. The ripple effects were everywhere. A small-business owner in south suburban Dolton who had lost $1,000 when Wisconsin closed in 1980 told the Daily Cal that LTV owed him $8,000 he was unlikely to recoup. At a 1033 meeting, with members anxious that the local would lose its union hall for nonpayment of rent, the official minutes recorded an incident in which one agitated officer “threatened M[aury] Richards with physical harm.” A Chicago Tribune feature story, referring to what had happened at Wisconsin Steel, South Works, and now LTV, described “chilling levels of alcoholism, emotional stress, and physical illness” among the unemployed and their families. There was no denying that over the past six years “the deterioration of the Southeast Side has been catastrophic.” The Daily Cal’s superb steel reporter, Larry Galica, toured the largely silent South Works and pronounced it “a modern ghost town,” and Richards blamed the steel companies’ “failure to reinvest in their facilities to modernize them” as the reason why tens of thousands of people had suffered so traumatically since March 28, 1980. Amid this latest steel crisis, Harold Washington formally kicked off his reelection campaign before a crowd of four thousand supporters at a Loop hotel. Weeks earlier, in late April, Washington had reiterated his opposition to any new landfills, even though he knew there was no solution to Chicago’s garbage crisis other than finding additional landfill capacity somewhere. In late May he quietly approved what the city insisted was a “reconfiguration,” and not “an expansion,” of the huge CID landfill just east of Altgeld Gardens. Environmental purists like Hazel Johnson were understandably not happy, but a heavy majority of his administration’s Task Force on Solid Waste Management endorsed his action, including IACT’s Mary Ellen Montes. An even more imminent threat to what remained of the Southeast Side was the disappearance of gainful employment. Washington’s aides reported, “Stores and local businesses are closing down because the only purchases are for bare necessities. The area is becoming blighted and people’s attitudes are of hopelessness.” Additionally, “there is a great need for more police coverage,” since “there are not enough police officers on the street patrolling the neighborhoods.” In August, Maria Cerda, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Employment and Training (MOET), finally appeared at a community meeting in Altgeld Gardens to respond to DCP’s request that MOET open an office within reasonable travel distance of the Gardens. Obama had prepared Loretta Augustine to chair the meeting, but almost immediately, Cerda became “very aggressive and domineering,” according to Loretta. “I was supposed to introduce the issue, and she tried to take over,” and became openly patronizing, asking Loretta, “Do you even know what we do?” Then, from the back of the room, came Barack’s voice: “Let Loretta speak! We want to hear what Loretta has to say!” Obama was determined to avoid another breakdown like the Zirl Smith session, so he put aside his own rule about remaining quietly in the background, and this time intervened forcefully if anonymously. Loretta remembered that “people kind of picked it up,” chanting “Let Loretta speak!” In the end, Cerda agreed that MOET would open an office on South Michigan Avenue in central Roseland, a ten-minute bus ride from the Gardens, before the end of November. By midsummer, Greg Galluzzo and Mary Gonzales were expanding UNO’s reach by linking up with and reactivating the Gamaliel Foundation, founded in the 1960s but long dormant. Greg had been seeking funding for this new vision since early 1986, and he believed that Gamaliel could serve as a training institute that would “generate a flow of leadership for the city’s future.” Mary and Greg saw community organizing as “the way people can move from a sense of helplessness and isolation to active participation in the decisions affecting their lives.” Greg felt that Chicago’s vibrant “movement” activity in earlier years had “distracted people” from pursuing long-lasting change. “Compared to the work of real community organizations, movement activity is much less grounded in communities,” he wrote. By September Greg had raised almost $100,000 for Gamaliel, with the two largest grants—$40,000 and $30,000—coming from the Joyce Foundation and the Woods Fund. Within UNO, Danny Solis and Phil Mullins wanted to train the parents of Chicago public school students: “Improving the quality of education in Chicago is the city’s greatest challenge and clearest need.” Citing the research of Fred Hess on Chicago dropout rates, Gamaliel noted how “students are simply not prepared to handle high school classes.” By 1986, that represented a bigger problem than ever before. “Ten years ago in S.E. Chicago, a student at Bowen High School could drop out of school and get a job in the steel mills making more money than their teachers.” That world was gone, and “the major obstacle” to improving outcomes for current students “is the ineptness and mismanagement at the Board of Education level.” Like IAF, Gamaliel would do trainings, and in early August, a one-week course for sixty community group members took place at Techny Towers, a suburban retreat center owned by the Society of the Divine Word. Obama, having the full IAF training to his credit, delivered a presentation there one day, and among those in attendance was Mary Ellen Montes. “Everyone was awed by Barack,” Lena remembered. “I was getting divorced,” and as a single mother with three children, she now had a full-time job at Fiesta Educativa, an advocacy group for disabled Hispanic students. She was immediately taken with the young man three years her junior. “Barack was extremely charismatic,” and she wanted to see more of him. “We talked quite a bit after I met him at Techny Towers,” and with Sheila Jager in California visiting her family, Barack and Lena spent a number of late-summer evenings together in Hyde Park. “We went out to eat a few times” and “we just enjoyed talking to each other,” Lena recounted. “He was a lot of fun to talk to and we really enjoyed each other’s company.” Obama would remember some intense making-out, while Lena explained, “I’m a passionate person.” What she termed “the relationship/friendship that we had” became a close one as Barack became part of the UNO–Gamaliel network. Greg Galluzzo believed that “the continuing development of community organizing as a profession is mandatory,” and with Gamaliel often bringing its organizers together, Barack and Lena were now professional colleagues as well as intimate friends. Obama had been in Chicago for more than a year, and it had been a more challenging and instructive period than any other of his life. He had learned a great deal about others and himself. He had bonded with Mike Kruglik, Bill Stenzel, and Tom Kaminski, as well as with DCP leaders, such as Loretta Augustine, Dan Lee, and Cathy Askew. He had also made two good friends around his age: Asif Agha and Johnnie Owens. But more changes were coming. Jerry was shifting his focus to Gary, after being bruised by the failure of his Regional Employment Network, which could not claim to have placed even one unemployed worker in a meaningful new job. Given what was now transpiring at LTV’s East Side mill and at South Works, jobless workers on Chicago’s Far South Side faced even dimmer prospects for employment in the immediate future. Obama later wrote that Kellman had told him that CCRC’s region-wide aspirations, like DCP’s highly disparate neighborhood composition, were fundamentally ungainly and that he “should have known better.” Jerry asked Barack to come with him to Gary, but Barack said no: “I can’t just leave, Jerry. I just got here.” Kellman warned him, “Stay here and you’re bound to fail. You’ll give up organizing before you give it a real shot,” but Barack stood firm. He saw a fundamental human difference between them. Barack in twelve months had established meaningful emotional bonds with half a dozen or more colleagues, while Jerry, as Obama later wrote, had “made no particular attachments to people or place during his three years in the area.” Obama also made a personal decision that was unlike anything he ever suggested to Genevieve: he asked Sheila Jager to move in with him. “It all seemed to happen so fast,” she later explained. Earlier in the summer, Barack had renewed his one-year lease on his studio, but it was too small for two people. Johnnie Owens was living with his parents and looking for a place, so Barack suggested he sublet the studio. Sheila had no support apart from her graduate fellowship, but Barack offered to cover the $450-a-month cost of apartment 1-N at 5429 South Harper Avenue, a quiet, tree-lined block of three-story brick buildings. Sheila thought it was “really spacious,” with a living room, an open study, “a good-sized bedroom,” and a large, eat-in kitchen. “I thought it was a bit plush for a struggling couple,” but with Barack’s $20,000 salary and $100 a month from Sheila toward food and shopping, by early October the young couple had set up house. Barack continued to see both Asif and Johnnie regularly, with Barack taking Johnnie to see a fall exhibit featuring the work of French photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson at the Art Institute of Chicago. Soon after moving in with Sheila, Barack tardily responded to a letter and short story Phil Boerner had sent him. Barack confessed to feeling older, or at least overextended. “Where once I could party, read and write, with a whole day’s worth of activity to spare, I now feel as if I have barely enough time to read the newspaper.” He counseled Phil about writing fiction, recommending that he focus on “the key moment(s) in the story, and build tension leading to those key moments.” He also suggested that Phil “write outside your own experience,” because “I find that this works the fictive imagination harder.” Barack spoke of thinking about and missing Manhattan, “but I doubt I’ll be going back.” Then he introduced Sheila. “The biggest news on my end is that I have a new girlfriend, with whom I now share an apartment. She’s half-Japanese, half-Dutch, and is a Ph.D. candidate” at the University of Chicago. “Very sweet lady, as busy as I am, and so temperamentally well-suited. Not that there are no strains; I’m not really accustomed to having another person underfoot all the time, and there are moments when I miss the solitude of a bachelor’s life. On the other hand, winter’s fast approaching, and it is nice to have someone to come home to after a late night’s work. Compromises, compromises.” Obama’s pose that fear of cold temperatures underlay his desire that Sheila and he live together downplayed his own decision and initiative. Then he updated Phil on how DCP was now becoming a freestanding organization, “which gives me no one to directly answer to and control over my own schedule. But the downside is that I shoulder the responsibility of making something work that may not be able to work. The scope of the problems here—25 percent unemployment; 40 percent high school drop out rate; infant mortality on a par with Haiti—is daunting; and I often feel impotent to initiate anything with major impact. Nevertheless, I plan to plug away at it at least until the end of 1987. After that, I’ll have to make a judgment as to whether I’ve got the patience and determination necessary for this line of work.” The breakup of CCRC, with DCP and the South Suburban Action Conference (SSAC) taking its place, coincided with Leo Mahon leaving St. Victor. He had announced seven months earlier his September departure, and he had felt his energy flagging before that. In one of his last pastoral letters, Leo addressed the LTV and South Works news in words that echoed across the previous six years. “Catholic social teaching insists that the workers have first right to the fruits of their labor,” in line with “the Christian principle that workers, not money, come first.” Corporations should put “human concerns ahead of profit and dividends,” but LTV and U.S. Steel had made “clear that power and profit are both more important than people and jobs.” Leo’s advice was the same as in 1980: “let us translate our concern and our outrage into protest and into political action.” Following Kellman’s shift to Gary, Greg Galluzzo took on a formal mentoring role to Obama by becoming DCP’s “consultant.” He introduced Barack to a young tax attorney, Mary-Ann Wilson, who at no charge—“pro bono”—would handle the state and federal paperwork necessary to establish DCP, like UNO before it, as an independent, nonprofit corporation. Illinois, like the Internal Revenue Service, required a bevy of forms and submissions that Barack and DCP members would spend a good portion of that fall completing and signing. A set of bylaws was copied and updated from an earlier version Kellman had drafted in 1984. Illinois articles of incorporation required three directors—Dan Lee, Loretta Augustine, and Tom Kaminski were named—as well as a registered agent. Barack, as “project director,” left blank the space asking for his middle name. A separate, full-fledged board of directors listed Dan as president, Loretta as vice president, and Marlene Dillard as treasurer, along with everyone who was active in DCP: Cathy Askew, Yvonne Lloyd, Nadyne Griffin, Eva Sturgies, and Aletha Gibson, plus several women who had signed in at a meeting or two but not reappeared. Simultaneous to his work with Mary-Ann Wilson, Barack was conducting one-evening-a-week training for DCP members at Holy Rosary, while also drafting his own initial grant applications. The trainings, informed by what he had learned during his ten days with IAF, involved DCP veterans such as Dan Lee and Betty Garrett plus relative newcomers such as Aletha Strong Gibson. They also attracted new faces such as Loretta’s neighbor Margaret Bagby and Aletha’s close friend Ann West, a white Australian whose husband was black and president of the PTA at Turner-Drew Elementary School. Another important PTA figure, Isabella Waller, president of the regional Southwest Council, brought along her best friend, Deloris Burnam. Ernest Powell Jr., the politically savvy president of the Euclid Park neighborhood association and someone Barack had recruited over the summer, came as well. Close to twenty people attended the weekly sessions, at which Barack always took off his watch and put it on the table so he could see it during the training. For Obama, the grant applications were a major concern. The first would go to Ken Rolling and Jean Rudd at the Woods Fund, which he hoped would renew the $30,000 given to CCRC for DCP in 1986. The ten-page, single-spaced document offered a retrospective account of the past fourteen months, and made clear, as he had stressed previously, that the Far South Side’s “two most pressing problems” were a “lack of jobs, and lack of educational opportunity.” Obama had one especially audacious goal for 1987: a “Career Education Network to serve the entire Far South Side area—a comprehensive and coordinated system of career guidance and counseling for high school age youth” with “a centralized counseling office” augmenting in-school counselors so as to reduce the dropout rate and channel more black high school graduates into higher education. “Youth in the area,” he warned, “are slipping behind their parents in educational achievement.” Obama already knew that to build DCP two types of expansion were necessary: an outreach to congregations beyond the Roman Catholic base that Kellman had developed and the recruitment of more block club and PTA members like Eva Sturgies, Aletha Strong Gibson, Ann West, and Ernie Powell. DCP’s neighborhoods, from Altgeld northward to Roseland, West Pullman, and even solidly middle-class Washington Heights, were ill served by their elected officials, who “have generally poured their efforts into conventional political campaigns, with almost no concrete results for area residents.” Obama spoke of the need to “dramatize problems through the media and through direct action,” but DCP’s most pressing need was funds to hire another African American organizer. He realized a $10,000 entry-level salary would not attract experienced candidates, so DCP’s proposed 1987 budget called for $20,000 for that position and an increase in Barack’s salary to $25,000. Ken and Jean at the Woods Fund told Barack to introduce himself to Anne Hallett, the new director of the small Wieboldt Foundation, whose interests closely paralleled those of Woods, and also to consider applying to the larger MacArthur Foundation. Obama visited and spoke with Hallett in November, and soon thereafter a front-page story in the Chicago Defender highlighted MacArthur’s announcement of $2.4 million in grants to community organizations, including $16,000 to Frank Lumpkin’s Save Our Jobs Committee. Before the year’s end, Obama submitted to Wieboldt a formal request for $10,000 that was virtually identical to the one he had sent Woods. Boasting that DCP was “an organization equal to any grass-roots effort going on in Chicago’s Black community right now,” Obama admitted that his employment and educational opportunities agenda represented “an ambitious program.” He said DCP needed “about two years” to recruit enough churches to be self-sustaining, and he told Hallett that DCP would soon reach out to MacArthur too. The Far South Side’s two most notable developments in fall 1986 were both environmental. In late September, Waste Management Incorporated withdrew its long-pending application to open a new landfill west of South Torrence Avenue and would instead target the 140-acre O’Brien Locks site on the west bank of the Little Calumet River, surrounded on three sides by WMI’s huge CID landfill. UNO treated this news as a huge victory, infuriating environmental activists Hazel Johnson and Vi Czachorski, whose Altgeld Gardens and Hegewisch neighborhoods were just west and east of the O’Brien site. Johnson and Czachorski’s organizations, along with Marian Byrnes, formed a new antidumping alliance, Citizens United to Reclaim the Environment (CURE). Together with Sierra Club members, CURE organized a well-covered protest outside City Hall. As officials continued to seek the least bad solution to Chicago’s looming landfill crisis, UNO and CURE would be on opposite sides wherever the battle line was drawn. A few weeks later, 10th Ward alderman Ed Vrdolyak, a nemesis of Harold Washington as well as UNO, threw his support behind CURE. That dispute seemed mild compared to a front-page headline in the October 25 Chicago Tribune: “South Side Facility Burning ‘Superwaste.’ ” The incinerator at 117th Street and Stony Island Avenue, little more than a mile from South Deering’s Bright Elementary School to the north and Altgeld Gardens to the southwest, was one of just five nationwide that was licensed to burn highly toxic PCBs. Although a front-page 1985 Wall Street Journal story ominously headlined “Plants That Incinerate Poisonous Wastes Run Into a Host of Problems” had cited the plant’s location, neither UNO nor most anyone else in Chicago had taken note that it was operating close to capacity, burning more than twenty thousand gallons of PCBs seven days a week. Experts agreed that incineration was much better than burial, but neither Illinois EPA nor Chicago officials had objected to this facility’s location. In early November, United Neighborhood Organization held its annual dinner at an East Side banquet hall. Frank Lumpkin was one of two honorees, and the guest speaker was George Munoz, the new young president of the Chicago Board of Education. Newspaper photographs showed two of Chicago’s most promising Hispanic political stars—Munoz and Maria Elena Montes, as Lena’s name now sometimes appeared—seated on the dais. UNO and Gamaliel’s expansion had elevated Danny Solis to UNO’s executive director and Southeast Side organizer Phil Mullins to a supervisory role, and in Mullins’s stead, Bruce Orenstein, a young IAF veteran who knew Greg Galluzzo, took charge of UNO’s Southeast Side work. As Barack was drawn into Greg Galluzzo’s UNO and Gamaliel network, one Gamaliel board member, John McKnight, stood out as the most intellectually intriguing voice at the regular gatherings, where most participants adopted a macho tone. Throughout the mid-1980s, McKnight had continued the same powerful themes he had voiced in earlier years. “Through the propagation of belief in authoritative expertise, professionals cut through the social fabric of community and sow clienthood where citizenship once grew,” he told one audience while warning of the danger that “a nation of clients” posed to a democratic state. In an article entitled “Community Organizing in the ’80s: Toward a Post-Alinsky Agenda,” McKnight and his younger colleague Jody Kretzmann declared that “a number of the classic Alinsky strategies and tactics are in need of critical revision.” Rather than confronting some “enemy,” the emphasis should be on “developing a neighborhood’s own capacities to do for itself what outsiders will or can no longer do.” The focus should shift public dollars away from salaries for service providers to investment in “local productive capacities” that will strengthen rather than weaken communities. A year earlier, in November 1985, Chicago Magazine—a monthly not easily mistaken for a social policy journal—had devoted six glossy pages to a lengthy interview with McKnight. In the article, he said Chicagoans needed to recognize that “the industrial sector of America has abandoned us,” and that a new future loomed. “We’re turning out young people from universities right and left who really are looking for something to do. In the elite universities what do we offer them? We offer them the chance to become lawyers.” On the other hand, a sizable population of heavily dependent poor people was necessary to support the “glut” of professional servicers “who ride on their backs.” Public funds should be used to employ low-income people rather than pay servicers to patronize them. “To the degree that the War on Poverty attempted to provide services in lieu of power or income, it failed,” McKnight argued. “Poor people are poor in power.” For poor Chicagoans to become citizens rather than clients, “shifting income out of the service sector into economic opportunity for poor people is absolutely essential.” In early 1986 McKnight wrote in the Tribune that instead of subsidizing medical behemoths, local health dollars should be directed toward “creating neighborhood jobs that provide decent incomes for local people.” In a subsequent interview, he decried “a society focused on building on people’s weaknesses,” one that emphasized “deficiency rather than capacity.” Service professionals’ control over the lives of the poor magnified rather than alleviated their poverty, for “if you are nothing but a client, you have the most degraded status our society will provide.” Health services were the most dire problem, and publicly funded “medical insurance systematically misdirects public wealth from income to the poor to income to medical professionals.” Yet change would be difficult because “many institutional leaders” had come to see communities as nothing more than “collections of parochial, inexpert, uninformed, and biased people” who understood their own needs far less well than did service professionals. “Institutionalized systems grow at the expense of communities,” and America’s “essential problem is weak communities.” John McKnight’s influence on people exposed to his social vision was profound even if unobtrusive. Ellen Schumer, a fellow Gamaliel board member and UNO veteran, said that within the world of Chicago organizing, McKnight “really challenged the old model.” His impact was also felt throughout Chicago’s progressive foundations, with Wieboldt acknowledging that it was “fortunate to have John McKnight join us” at the board’s annual retreat “to talk about the substantive changes in Chicago neighborhoods today that require new strategies for organizers.” If McKnight was Chicago’s most significant social critic, the front pages of the December 3, 1986, editions of all three Chicago daily newspapers announced another: G. Alfred “Fred” Hess, a little-known policy analyst, education researcher, and former Methodist minister. After completing a Ph.D. in educational anthropology at Northwestern University in 1980, with a dissertation on a village development project in western India, Hess had joined the foundation-funded Chicago Panel on Public School Finances, and in 1983 he succeeded Anne Hallett as executive director. Hess had made the front pages of Chicago’s daily papers nineteen months earlier thanks to a lengthy study entitled “Dropouts from the Chicago Public Schools: An Analysis of the Classes of 1982–1983–1984.” The Chicago Sun-Times had summarized Hess’s findings in a boldface banner headline: “School Dropout Rate Nearly 50 Percent!” His discovery that 43 percent of students who had entered Chicago high schools in September 1978 dropped out prior to graduation was a percentage that Obama had accurately cited a year earlier when he had written to Phil Boerner about the worst ills plaguing the neighborhoods where he worked. Hess’s data readily showed that high schools with predominantly minority populations had a dropout rate as high as 63 percent. One Tribune story highlighted how at one Roseland high school, remaining in school did not mean students were studying. “We were sitting at a lunch table in the cafeteria rolling joints one morning,” a seventeen-year-old girl told reporter Jean Latz Griffin. “There was a security guard right next to us, but he didn’t say anything. People smoke it anywhere. Some teachers say ‘Put it out,’ but no one really does anything. You can’t snort coke inside school though. That would be too obvious.” Out of Corliss High School’s eighteen hundred students, only forty-eight were taking physics, only seventeen had qualified for the school’s first-ever calculus class, and almost 50 percent were enrolled in remedial English. A report similar to Hess’s, from a parallel research enterprise, Donald Moore’s Designs for Change, revealed that only three hundred out of the sixty-seven hundred students who had entered Chicago’s eighteen most disadvantaged high schools in 1980 had been able to read at a twelfth-grade level if they graduated in 1984. In a prominent Tribune feature four weeks before Obama arrived in Chicago, Hess had warned that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) were damaging the city’s future. “We are in danger of creating a permanent underclass that is uneducated and unable to advance. It means a set of neighborhoods in which the majority of people are constantly unemployed and a strain on the social system in welfare and the high cost of crime. If we don’t take strong action now, we’ll pay for it later.” Don Moore emphasized how job losses were magnifying the consequences of CPS’s failures. “Parents are feeling a real desperation now because they are seeing unskilled jobs disappearing … 20 years ago the manufacturing industries in Chicago didn’t depend on employees being terribly literate. The economy has changed.” Former Illinois state education superintendent Michael Bakalis wondered to the Tribune why “the general community of Chicago, particularly the business community, has not been absolutely outraged by the performance of the Chicago Public Schools.” In July 1986, Hess told Crain’s Chicago Business that the way to reform public schools was to develop “real power for local citizens to control their local schools. Let local citizens hold local school officials accountable for the effectiveness of their schools. This would be real and significant decentralization of power that could make a difference.” Illinois state law mandated that high school students receive at least three hundred minutes of daily instruction. Beginning in spring 1986, Hess’s Chicago Panel discovered that many Chicago high schools had fictional “study hall” classes in their students’ otherwise skimpy schedules that created a false paper trail to meet that requirement. The resulting report, “Where’s Room 185?,” released on December 2, created an immediate uproar. The Tribune editorialized that CPS “administrators are deliberately and illegally cheating students of part of the education to which they are entitled.” It also showed that in an overwhelming majority of actual classes, teachers actively taught for less than half of the class period. Noting how recently promoted CPS superintendent Manford Byrd’s response was to “hunker down and criticize the design of the study,” the Tribune declared that it was “inexcusable that it took an outside research panel” to uncover CPS’s “fundamental failure.” The Chicago Defender ran a prominent page-three story, “Dropout Rate Irks Parents,” publicizing DCP’s desire to meet with board of education president George Munoz to discuss the problem. “We have a lot of dropouts,” DCP project director Barack Obama told the Defender. “We acknowledge that the dropout question is complicated, and there are no quick fixes to keep kids in school. We are urging Munoz to study the counseling system, recommend changes, and expand the numbers. This will have a direct effect on kids in the schools now.” Obama also said that students’ preparation prior to their high school years should be examined, “because there are a lot of possibilities out there.” In addition, two public controversies highlighted Altgeld Gardens residents’ problems with both the CPS and the CHA. On December 4, one day after “Where’s Room 185?” debuted in Chicago newspapers, the Defender’s Chinta Strausberg reported on six teachers at the Wheatley Child-Parent Center who had transferred to other schools because they feared that Wheatley was permeated with asbestos. Superintendent Byrd insisted that tests had shown the air at Wheatley was “safe,” but Wheatley parents threatened to boycott the school and demanded an immediate inspection. On December 15 just 37 of Wheatley’s 377 young children attended school, and for the next two days that number dropped to 17 and then 11. One parent told the Tribune, “We can’t help but notice that the kids go to school all week and come home with rashes and wheezes. When they are home for the weekend, it all clears up.” The boycott continued until the Christmas–New Year’s break, but being “home” at Altgeld was no picnic either, as a Tribune series detailing what it called the CHA’s “national reputation for mismanagement” documented. “If I had a job, I wouldn’t be here. This is not a good place to raise kids,” one young Altgeld mother told the newspaper while complaining about the prevalence of youth gangs. Two days later the Tribune reported that Zirl Smith was resigning as CHA executive director, and the next day’s paper emphasized how “Chicago has used the CHA as a way to isolate blacks.” When news broke that administrative ineptitude had cost CHA $7 million in federal aid, CHA’s board chairman resigned as well. Fifteen months would pass before asbestos removal finally began in some 575 Altgeld homes, almost two years after Smith’s tumultuous visit to the Gardens. Harold Washington’s press secretary, Al Miller, later recounted the mayor remarking that “he didn’t believe there was a solution” to the CHA’s profound problems. Shortly before Christmas, Barack Obama and Sheila Jager flew to San Francisco to spend a holiday week at her parents’ home in Santa Rosa. Although they had been living together for hardly four months, their relationship had quickly become one of deep commitment—indeed, so deep that for several weeks they had been discussing getting married during the trip to California. Asif Agha had watched their relationship grow. Over the previous sixteen months, Asif had seen “Barry”—as he alone called Obama—acclimate to Chicago. “We were kind of an anchor point for each other,” and “Barry” spoke frankly to Asif about his acculturation. “I am the kind of well-spoken black man that white organization leaders love to give money to,” Asif remembered Obama remarking. Asif saw Obama with the eyes, and ears, of a linguistic anthropologist. “In terms of his performed demeanor, diction, speech style, he was white, not black,” Asif observed. Obama was open enough with Asif for him to know that Barack’s significant girlfriends prior to Sheila had been white, and Asif appreciated the underlying duality of Obama’s Chicago experience. His weekday work in Altgeld and Greater Roseland immersed him in African American life in a way that no prior experiences ever had, but in Hyde Park, his home life with Sheila and their occasional socializing with other anthropology graduate students was entirely multiethnic and international, just like his Punahou and Pakistani diaspora life had been in Honolulu, Eagle Rock, and New York. Asif Agha. Eunhee Kim Yi. Arjun Guneratne. Their names alone, just like Sheila Miyoshi Jager, highlighted their international and ethnic diversity. Tania Forte was Egyptian, Jewish, and had grown up in France. Chin See Ming was born and raised in Malaysia before graduating with honors from Rice University in Houston. It was a “very, very cosmopolitan” group, Ming recalled, and when Sheila one day introduced Ming to Barack, I “just assumed he was a graduate student.” For Sheila and her classmates, the first two years of the graduate anthropology program were “like boot camp,” Ming explained. Everyone had to take a double-credit introductory course called Sociocultural Systems, taught by Marshall Sahlins, a prominent anthropologist but “not a warm and cuddly person” and indeed “a very, very scary man” to some. Sheila coped far better with Sahlins than most of her classmates, and in her dissertation she wrote that “my greatest intellectual debt” was to Sahlins. “There was a very strong esprit de corps among the grad students” and “people worked very hard,” Ming recalled. “You were never off,” and everyone knew that student attrition would reach 50 percent. Asif knew Sheila as “a very wonderful, wonderful person,” someone who was “passionate” about her work as well as her relationship with Barack. One evening the three of them accompanied Asif’s girlfriend Tammy Hamlish to a talk that her aunt Florence Hamlish Levinsohn, an outspoken local writer, was giving. Three years earlier Levinsohn had published a “patchy, parochial, frankly admiring” biography of her university classmate Harold Washington just after his election as mayor. Tammy had wanted Asif to meet Aunt Florence, but the evening quickly devolved into an unmitigated disaster. Asif remembered that he “started giggling at what the lady was saying, and Barry and I made eye contact, and that was fatal, because then for the next ten minutes we kept uncontrollably giggling and couldn’t control it and almost falling off our chairs because what the lady was saying was just absurd. And neither of us could control it, and because we were sitting next to each other and kept making eye contact, we’re triggering each other over and over and over. Tammy meanwhile is turning red,” and Levinsohn took note of their behavior too. She “was most upset” and “Tammy was mortified,” Asif recalled. Apart from that embarrassing scene, Barack and Sheila were familiar faces at anthropology graduate students’ occasional parties. Sheila Quinlan, a Reed College graduate who was a year ahead of Sheila, remembered how “everyone thought they were a very sincere couple.” Barack was “quiet,” “friendly,” and “a sweet boy.” Indeed, as Chin See Ming put it, Barack “fit into the scene,” just as he likewise had learned to do in Roseland and even down in the Gardens. Jerry Kellman watched as Obama comfortably embraced his dual lives. “He found a way to be part of the black community and live beyond the black community,” Kellman explained. “He discovered he could live in both worlds.” But in December 1986, and for almost two years thereafter, the looming and overarching question was whether Barack Obama could live in both worlds with Sheila Miyoshi Jager as his wife. Five months earlier, before asking Sheila to live with him, he had inquisitively questioned Arnie Graf about the long-term dynamics of interracial marriage and raising half-black, half-white children. And although most passersby and even most anthropology students would not see them in such a way, Sheila knew that “Barack is as much white as I am.” With her half-Japanese ancestry paralleling his half-Kenyan, she and Barack were equally white—one half apiece. “Marriage was THE vital issue between us and we talked about it all the time,” Sheila explained more than two decades later. Barack “kept work matters and his private life separate,” so their marriage conversations, while known to Asif, were not something Kellman, Kruglik, Tom Kaminski, or Cathy Askew ever heard about from someone so “very private” as Obama. In their time alone together, Sheila saw someone whom no one in DCP ever did, someone with a “deep seated need to be loved and admired.” In their evenings at the spacious apartment on South Harper, Barack read literature, not history, while Sheila had more than enough course readings to occupy her time. And, of course, there was another dimension as well. Barack “is a very sexual/sensual person, and sex was a big part of our relationship,” Sheila later acknowledged. Everything had come together fast. In “the winter of ’86, when we visited my parents, he asked me to marry him,” Sheila recounted. Mike Dees, her father’s closest friend and Sheila’s virtual uncle, had been told by Bernd in advance that Barack was a prospective son-in-law. “He and Sheila … were going to get married,” Dees explained. “They were coming out, they wanted to get married, and so they called me to come up and look the guy over and see what I think.” One day right after Christmas Mike drove up to Santa Rosa, and “I ended up with Barack for an afternoon,” he recalled. “We just visited.” Barack was clearly a “very bright guy,” and, complexion aside, came across like “a white, middle-class kid.” Then, after dinner, Bernd and Mike had “a big political thing with Barack” while Sheila and her mother Shinko were occupied elsewhere. The two older men and Barack found themselves on “completely opposite sides of the fence,” Mike explained, because “we’re both conservative Republicans.” Barack “kind of thought he was going to lecture to us” about politics and ideology, “and we kind of shot him down.” It got “really heated” and “went on for quite a while.” Barack seemed “very taken aback by it,” Mike recalled. “Barack kind of thought he was going to sit down and get anointed. He’s very self-centered, and he ended up getting beat up.” Although Barack “didn’t do very well,” to Mike “it was just a political argument. I think to the father and Barack it was more than that,” indeed, much more. “For Barack it was a big deal, for Bernd it was a big deal,” because Barack “was going to be the chosen one that night, and it didn’t work out” that way. It was readily apparent that the older man was sitting in judgment on the younger, perhaps not so differently from the time twenty-five years earlier when Stan Dunham had first met Barack Obama Sr. But here the verdict was negative, not positive. “I don’t know whether his color entered into the picture or not,” Dees said about Bernd’s attitude toward Barack. By the end of the evening, and again the next morning, Bernd made his view of Barack and his marriage proposal crystal clear. “Bernd was against it,” because he felt that Barack was unworthy of his daughter’s hand. Sheila remembers that “my father was concerned over his ‘lack of prospects’ and wondered whether, as a community organizer, he could even support me, something that deeply offended Barack. My mom liked Barack a lot, but simply said I was too young” to get married. “I went along with their judgment, basically saying ‘Not yet,’ ” she recalled. The unsettling holiday visit concluded, and “they ended up going back without getting married,” Mike Dees affirmed. Barack and Sheila would revisit that decision again and again over the twenty months that lay ahead. During the first week of January 1987, Gamaliel held a three-day retreat for its seventeen organizers, plus Ken Rolling from Woods, at a Holiday Inn in south suburban Matteson. More important, Obama was now meeting for at least an hour a week, one on one, with Greg Galluzzo to talk about his Developing Communities Project work. Greg’s monthly calendar recorded the regularity of their discussions: Thursday morning, January 15; Wednesday lunchtime, the 21st; Friday morning, the 30th. On Wednesday, February 4, they spoke for two and a half hours; on Monday, February 9, for two more. Wednesday, the 11th, Greg came to Barack’s apartment; Tuesday, the 17th, they met for another ninety minutes—ten hours of conversation in just thirty days. As anyone who knew Galluzzo would testify, he was so intense that no discussion with him ever devolved into idle chitchat. Deeply committed to his belief that “the essence of organizing is the transformation of the person” into someone who was “serious about being a power person in the public arena,” Greg’s self-confidence and challenging interpersonal style was robust indeed. True to the Alinsky tradition, Greg’s insistence that people unapologetically seek power for themselves was completely nonideological and entirely pragmatic: “Find out what people want,” he said, “and then we’ll decide what we’re going to do about it.” He also agreed with the Alinsky tradition of avoiding insoluble “problems” while constantly searching out winnable “issues.” Greg knew it was essential to “learn politics as the art of the possible.” He believed that, properly taught, “community organizers are pragmatists” who firmly appreciate that “in 99 percent of the cases the end does justify the means.” In addition, an Alinsky organizer assumed a dual public and private life. As one veteran put it, “you compartmentalize life and then it allows your consciousness to go to the beach.” On the Far South Side, parents in Altgeld Gardens, aided by Barack, maintained their boycott of the Wheatley Child-Parent Center until January 20, when the CPS provided documentation that no asbestos had been found in the school. The boycott energized Altgeld residents’ interest in Hazel Johnson’s People for Community Recovery, and Mayor Washington spoke at a PCR meeting that drew several hundred people. The Tribune reported a new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study that had found that “more than 20,000 tons of 38 toxic chemicals are emitted into the air each year in the Lake Calumet region on the Southeast Side.” The Daily Calumet reported that Waste Management’s 1986 quarterly earnings were up an astonishing 349 percent, and a WMI representative, Mary Ryan, had quietly begun speaking with interested parties about WMI’s desire to add the O’Brien Locks site as an adjoining landfill to its huge CID dump just east of Altgeld. Ryan spoke first with Bruce Orenstein, UNO’s new Southeast Chicago organizer, and Mary Ellen Montes. “Waste Management would be very willing to bring benefits to the community, gifts to the community, for your acquiesence, your agreement to allow us to dump there,” Orenstein remembers Ryan explaining. He and Lena were intrigued by Ryan’s offer but wanted to ponder what dollar amount would be appropriate and how such a sum should be managed and invested. Ryan also called on George Schopp at St. Kevin, Dominic Carmon at Our Lady of the Gardens, Hazel Johnson of PCR, civic activists ranging from Marian Byrnes to Foster Milhouse, and Obama on behalf of DCP. In mid-February Lena, Bruce, Hazel, and Barack met to discuss how to respond to WMI’s bold initiative. But Obama’s top priority in early 1987 was recruiting supporters for his Career Education Network. In addition to Dan Lee, Aletha Strong Gibson, and Isabella Waller, the three DCP members most interested in the proposal, he also discussed his idea with four people he already knew: Dr. Alma Jones, the indomitable principal of Carver Primary School in Altgeld; John McKnight, whom he was getting to know well through Gamaliel; Anne Hallett of the Wieboldt Foundation, with whom he had spoken in November and who had given DCP a $7,500 grant; and John Ayers, a close friend of Ken Rolling’s who had observed DCP’s “Let Loretta speak!” meeting with Maria Cerda and worked for the prestigious Commercial Club. McKnight and/or Hallett suggested that Barack approach Fred Hess, and Hess recommended that Barack introduce himself to Gwendolyn LaRoche, the education director of the Chicago Urban League. LaRoche scheduled a thirty-minute appointment, but her conversation with the “very polite young man” lasted “about two hours.” LaRoche explained that much of the federal and state funding that was supposed to go to schools with high concentrations of poor students was instead being spent on administrative jobs at CPS headquarters. “Barack was very much interested in” how “our kids were being cheated” by CPS, Gwen LaRoche Rogers recalled years later. The Urban League was already sponsoring after-school tutoring programs in churches, an approach that would fit perfectly with DCP’s congregational base. Obama reached out as well to Homer D. Franklin at Olive-Harvey, a fifteen-year-old community college just north of 103rd Street that was named for two African American Medal of Honor recipients, and to George Ayers at Chicago State University, on the south side of 95th Street. Olive-Harvey would be crucial to Barack’s hope of establishing a job-training program focused upon public aid recipients and especially Altgeld Gardens residents. DCP also won board of education president George Munoz’s agreement that CPS counseling specialists would cooperate with DCP’s effort. Obama would later say that his Far South Side work was inspired by what he knew about the history of the black freedom struggle during the 1950s and 1960s, and in late January 1987, Chicago’s public television station, WTTW, joined in the nationwide PBS broadcast of the six-part landmark documentary series Eyes on the Prize on Wednesday evenings at 9:00 P.M. These first six episodes covered only the years from 1954 to 1965—a second set of eight programs three years later would include an episode focusing on Chicago’s own 1965–1967 Freedom Movement—but the Defender and the Tribune publicized and praised the early 1987 Eyes telecasts. The Defender also accorded a full-page headline to a review of a new biography of Martin Luther King Jr., calling the book “a magnificent and unvarnished study” based upon “exhaustive research.” Written by one of Eyes’ three senior advisers, the book devoted the better part of two long chapters to King’s role in the Chicago Freedom Movement. Those chapters highlighted how one particular Chicago civil rights activist, thirty-two-year-old schoolteacher Al Raby, had convinced King to come to Chicago and had been at his side throughout every day of the 1966 campaign. In subsequent years, Raby played a significant role in the 1970 revision of Illinois’s state constitution before running unsuccessfully for 5th Ward alderman in Hyde Park. Eight years later, Harold Washington’s top political adviser, Jacky Grimshaw, persuaded Washington to name Raby his campaign manager for his successful 1983 primary campaign against incumbent mayor Jane Byrne. But as Raby’s longtime closest friend, Steve Perkins, later explained, “Al and Harold just didn’t have good chemistry” and indeed “rarely communicated.” Once Washington triumphed, Raby was “moved aside” and “totally marginalized.” Raby ran for Washington’s now-vacant congressional seat, but the new mayor backed labor veteran Charles Hayes, and Raby’s loss seemingly left him with “no future in Chicago.” He accepted the number two post at Project VOTE!, a trailblazing voter registration organization, and moved to Washington, D.C. Eighteen months later, in early 1985, Raby returned to Chicago after Jacky Grimshaw convinced Harold Washington to name him as the new head of the city’s Commission on Human Relations. But Al Raby was no one’s bureaucrat. Instead, as Steve Perkins would emphasize, notwithstanding how Al was “an intensely private person,” he was also “a continual talent scout, always looking for new activists with special gifts.” Judy Stevens, Raby’s deputy at the commission, also watched as “he mentored people.” By early 1987 Al was living in Hyde Park with Patty Novick, who two decades earlier had introduced Al and Steve. One morning Obama joined Patty and Al for breakfast, and soon after, Al called Steve: “he wanted me to come have breakfast with Barack, and so we had breakfast at Mellow Yellow,” a well-known Hyde Park eatery. “Barack was fabulous. He was smart, he was articulate—it was a joy to meet him,” Steve remembered. Patty recalled how “I want you to talk to” was one of Al’s favorite phrases, and one day in early 1987 Raby took Barack to City Hall and introduced him to Jacky Grimshaw, who was serving as Washington’s director of intergovernmental affairs. According to Jane Ramsey, the mayor’s director of community relations, “Al was all over the place,” and Grimshaw can picture Barack that day: “he was a kid,” although a “very serious” one. But Raby was far more influenced by his experiences with King than by city politics. “Al was determined to create a base for a long-term movement,” Steve Perkins emphasizes. In early 1987, Harold Washington’s aides were focused on his reelection, and Jane Byrne was mounting a stiff challenge in the upcoming Democratic primary. The mayor’s employment aide Maria Cerda had made a point of renting a portion of Local 1033’s East Side union hall as a new jobs-referral site. Maury Richards said that income “was just totally instrumental in keeping us afloat” and “at a critical time.” Soon Richards was put on the city’s payroll part-time, allowing him to hold the local union together while also staffing the Dislocated Worker Program. Washington needed all the votes he could get in Southeast Side precincts, and Maury was deeply thankful to Washington, whom he described as “a great guy.” Eight days before the election, steel was poured at South Works for the first time in seven months, another small victory for South Side steelworkers. Just before midnight on February 25, Byrne conceded defeat after mounting a “powerful challenge” to Washington, whose 53.5 to 46.3 percent victory “was much closer than the mayor’s strategists had been counting on,” the Tribune reported the next day. But the headline “Mayor’s Tight Win Just Half the Battle” pointed to the April 7 general election, when Washington would face two white Democrats running as independents: Cook County assessor Tom Hynes, a relative “Mr. Clean” by Chicago standards, and 10th Ward alderman Ed Vrdolyak, the mayor’s worst nemesis. Fewer white voters had turned out to support Byrne than had voted against Washington in 1983, though the mayor’s own white support had barely risen from four years earlier. A larger, more heavily white electorate was possible on April 7, but Washington was “a heavy favorite” as long as both Hynes and Vrdolyak remained in the race. On the Far South Side, Obama was trying to generate more grassroots support for his Career Education Network idea. Five high schools drew students from major portions of DCP’s neighborhoods: Harlan at 96th Street and South Michigan Avenue, Corliss on East 103rd Street, Julian at 103rd and South Elizabeth in Washington Heights, Fenger on South Wallace Street at 112th Street, and Carver down in Altgeld Gardens. Barack and a number of DCP’s most active members, including Dan Lee and Adrienne Jackson, began staging modest street corner demonstrations near the troubled high schools to draw attention to the schools’ horrible dropout rates, especially among young black men. One morning that spring, they held a rally on busy 111th Street a block north of Fenger, where one year earlier a Defender photo of the school’s top academic achievers had pictured one dozen African American women. Among the passersby was Illinois state senator Emil Jones Jr., whose office was less than two blocks away. “I stopped to see what they were out there for,” Jones later explained. He knew Adrienne Jackson, and she introduced Jones to Obama. “Barack was part of the group,” Jones recalled. “I met him on the corner.” But Jones was not happy to see protesters just down from the 34th Ward headquarters. “You have a lot to learn,” he told Adrienne and Barack. “You’ll get more flies with honey than you will the way you all are doing this.” Jones viewed them as an “in-your-face type of group,” but invited them to his office, where they laid out their dropout prevention goals, and particularly Obama’s hope of winning state funding for his Career Education Network. Jones thought Obama was “very bright and intelligent and very sincere” but also “very aggressive and somewhat pushy.” More seriously, Jones thought Obama “was naive as related to the political situation.” He did not know that in most any Chicago ward organization, real power was with the ward committeeman, who often doubled as alderman, and not with state legislators, even one with the grand title of senator. In addition, the Illinois legislature was made up of two very separate chambers. “We can work together,” Jones told Obama, but “you haven’t got a deal on the House side” until a supportive state representative was recruited. But with Jones’s backing, Barack now had a significant state political figure, in addition to Al Raby’s City Hall connections. But still Obama’s biggest challenge was expanding DCP’s base beyond Roman Catholic parishes like Holy Rosary and St. Catherine and PTA groups from middle-class Washington Heights. His first significant recruit was Rev. Rick Williams, the Panamanian-born pastor of Pullman Christian Reformed Church (PCRC) on East 103rd Street. PCRC had been founded in 1972 as a “mission” church when Roseland’s four long-standing Christian Reformed churches left the neighborhood in the wake of its rapid racial turnover. Williams arrived at PCRC in 1981, and by early 1987 PCRC possessed the most racially integrated congregation on the Far South Side. One day Obama and Adrienne Jackson called on Williams, who was immediately impressed by Barack’s “humility” and “his ease with people.” Williams also saw that Obama’s focus on growing DCP was rooted in an IAF-style worldview: “they wanted to work with churches because churches have values and churches have people and churches have money.” But Williams also knew that building an ecumenical base for DCP would be difficult because “these churches are of different persuasions, denominations, ways of thinking…. Creating community out of these churches” would be “a very complicated thing,” and even more difficult for some pastors because Barack himself was “not a church-going person.” But because Obama was “a principled person,” Williams readily signed on, telling Barack, “You are wise beyond your years,” when he and Adrienne departed. Just a block west of Holy Rosary was Reformation Lutheran Church. One young woman from that congregation, Kimetha Webster, had been active in DCP for months, and sometime that spring, she took Barack and Bill Stenzel there and introduced them to the church’s new young pastor, Tyrone Partee, as well as her father, John Webster, a congregation mainstay and the church’s caretaker. If Obama’s Career Education Network became a reality, its after-school counseling and tutoring efforts would require more space than Holy Rosary alone could offer. Obama explained DCP’s aspirations before asking, “Pastor, do you think it’s possible that we could do some things here at the church?” Partee was, like Barack, just twenty-five years old, and he came from a politically active family. His uncle Cecil Partee, the longtime committeeman of the 20th Ward, had served for two decades in the Illinois state legislature, including one term as president of the state Senate, a landmark achievement for an African American in the thoroughly white Illinois state capitol. Cecil Partee also was a crucial supporter of Harold Washington and now served as city treasurer. Tyrone immediately offered Barack Reformation’s support and space in its Fellowship Hall. “I believed in what he was doing for our community,” Partee said. But getting to know John Webster was even more valuable because he offered to show Barack around Roseland. “Everybody knew Mr. Webster,” Partee recalled. “He knew the good and the bad on everything.” A third pastor Barack called upon was Alonzo C. Pruitt, a former Chicago Urban League community organizer and now the young vicar of St. George and St. Matthias Episcopal Church on 111th Street. St. George was known for its weekday program that each morning fed about forty hungry people, some of whom lived at the nearby Roseland YMCA and others in the neighborhood’s abandoned buildings. Pruitt was also impressed with Obama and agreed to lend his name to DCP’s efforts. Among Roseland’s many churches, the faith most widely represented was not Catholic, Lutheran, Christian Reformed, or Episcopal; it was Baptist. Baptist churches were freestanding and independent, not tied to any denominational hierarchy or bishop, and their pastors could be as iconoclastic as they chose to be. By early 1987, central Roseland’s most immediately pressing problem, as Pruitt’s feed-the-hungry program highlighted, was the increase in the number of homeless people. That problem had its roots in the foreclosed loans and boarded-up homes that had increased dramatically in the past seven years due to the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, in the steel mills and also at previously vibrant manufacturing firms, from Dutch Boy and Sherwin-Williams paints to Carl Buddig meats and the Libby, McNeill & Libby food cannery. Late in 1986 the Daily Calumet’s superb steel reporter, Larry Galica, in an article about the human costs of unemployment, quoted Alonzo Grant, a black Roseland homeowner with a wife and three children who had lost his job at South Works and not found a new one. “I have no income whatsoever. I can’t receive public aid. I’m three months behind in my house mortgage payments, I’m two months behind in my car payments, and I’m behind in my utility bills.” Starting in late 1985, Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS), a ten-year-old foundation-supported organization whose mission was to help homeowners in declining, heavily minority neighborhoods, began planning a Roseland program at the request of Ellen Benjamin, executive director of the Borg-Warner Foundation. Benjamin had been interested in Roseland for several years, and within six months, the Borg-Warner Foundation committed $450,000 to NHS Roseland. Chicago’s Department of Housing soon matched that with $500,000 in city funds, and the state of Illinois contributed $200,000. By late 1986, NHS had named a neighborhood director and had appointed a local board that included Salim Al Nurridin, a Roseland civic activist and native of Altgeld Gardens who had converted to Islam years earlier. Early in 1987, with Alonzo Pruitt of St. George in the lead, six Roseland churches announced they were offering overnight shelter to any needy person on evenings when the temperature fell well below freezing. Also participating was Mission of Faith Baptist Church, whose pastor, Rev. Eugene Gibson, was president of the Roseland Clergy Association (RCA), and Fernwood United Methodist Church, whose pastor, Rev. Al Sampson, was a forty-eight-year-old veteran of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference whom King himself had ordained as a minister. Those three clergymen were taking the lead in protesting the lack of black professionals at a heavily patronized bank in Beverly, a largely white neighborhood immediately west of Washington Heights. They were also demanding youth employment opportunities at a large shopping plaza west of Beverly in Evergreen Park. Pruitt, Gibson, and Sampson’s efforts received prominent coverage in the Defender, and sometime in early 1987 Obama got Gibson on the phone and won an invitation to the RCA’s next regular meeting. As Obama later told it, he made a brief presentation to the ten or so clergymen before someone else arrived late to the meeting. “A tall, pecan-colored man” with straightened hair “swept back in a pompadour,” wearing “a blue, double-breasted suit and a large gold cross across his scarlet tie” asked Barack whom he represented. When Barack said DCP, the minister said that reminded him of a white man who had called on him many months before. “Funny-looking guy. Jewish name. You connected to the Catholics?” When Barack said yes, this person whom Obama called “Charles Smalls,” responded that “the last thing we need is to join up with a bunch of white money and Catholic churches and Jewish organizers to solve our problems … the archdiocese in this city is run by stone-cold racists. Always has been. White folks come in here thinking they know what’s best for us…. It’s all a political thing.” Smalls knew Obama meant well, but Barack wrote that he felt he was “roasting like a pig on a spit.” Years later, a journalist named Al Sampson as the intolerant preacher, and Obama later confirmed that identification, explaining that he had just changed the appearance of the short, stout, and dark-skinned Sampson. Asked for the first time about the allegation, Sampson said he did not recall ever meeting Barack Obama in the late 1980s, but in a 2002 video interview Sampson had expressed his admiration for the notoriously bigoted Louis Farrakhan. More than a quarter century later, Alonzo Pruitt still had a “vibrant memory” of that RCA meeting, with Barack wearing “an open-necked pale yellow shirt” and light brown dress shoes. Pruitt could picture Barack “carefully listening” and “responding with courtesy and restraint even when” others “did not practice courtesy and restraint. I was impressed that he was not defensive or hostile even when a reasonable person might choose the latter. At first I thought he was aloof, but as the meeting went on I realized that his getting angry would simply create a new issue with which to deal, and he was focused on what he perceived to be the heart of the matter.” Obama received a dramatically warmer welcome when he visited Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC) on 95th Street. Trinity was well known to every minister on the South Side because its pastor, Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., had grown his congregation from just eighty-seven members when he started there in 1972 to more than four thousand by the day Obama first visited. Almost two years earlier, Adrienne Jackson had tried unsuccessfully to interest Wright in DCP, and in Obama’s own later account, an aged “Reverend Philips” with a dying church first recommended he visit Wright. Yet among Chicago’s black preachers, an undocumented consensus would emerge that it was Rev. Lacey K. Curry, the dynamic pastor of Emmanuel Baptist, a vibrant church in the Auburn Gresham community north of DCP’s self-defined 95th Street boundary, who had told Barack to go see Wright. But Wright would attest to much of Obama’s account of his first visit to Trinity, where Wright’s attractive secretary, Donita Powell Anderson, was at least as interested in the young gentleman caller as was her pastor. “She was smitten,” Wright smilingly remembered. In Barack’s telling, Wright’s first words to him were a humorous greeting: “Let’s see if Donita here will let me have a minute of your time.” As of March 1987, forty-five-year-old Jerry Wright had already lived an eventful life. Raised by two well-educated parents in the Germantown neighborhood of northwest Philadelphia, Wright knew the black church from his earliest years because his father, Jeremiah Sr., was pastor of Grace Baptist Church. Years later, in a long interview, Wright would confess to misbehavior during his high school years—including an arrest for car theft—that was more serious than any of Obama’s indulgences while at Punahou. Jerry followed his father’s and mother’s footsteps and began college at Virginia Union University in Richmond before dropping out and enlisting in the marines. After two years, he changed uniforms and became a navy medical corpsman, ending up at Lyndon B. Johnson’s Bethesda bedside when the president underwent surgery in late 1966. Upon leaving the service, Wright enrolled at Howard University to complete his undergraduate degree and also earn a master’s. Reconnecting to religious faith, Wright entered the University of Chicago Divinity School before becoming an assistant pastor at Beth Eden Baptist Church, in the Morgan Park neighborhood west of central Roseland. By late 1971, that affiliation had ended and Wright was searching for new employment when an older friend and mentor, Rev. Kenneth B. Smith, mentioned that the small congregation of Trinity UCC, where Smith had been the founding pastor in 1961, was searching for a new minister. Wright was interviewed by Vallmer Jordan, one of TUCC’s most dedicated members, and on March 1, 1972, Wright became Trinity’s pastor. Wright inherited a small congregation and an annual budget of just $39,000, but the church had something almost equally valuable: a newly coined church slogan that declared Trinity as “unashamedly black and unapologetically Christian.” When the United Church of Christ created Trinity, it was aiming for a “high potential church” that would attract “the right kind of black people,” according to longtime Trinity member and staffer Julia M. Speller in her University of Chicago Ph.D. dissertation. “The class discrimination exhibited by the denomination” was stark, and soon after arriving at Trinity, Wright complained publicly that his new congregation had become “a citadel for the ultra-middle-class Negro.” He later quoted one founding member as confessing that “we could out-white white people,” and he also wrote that a “ ‘white church in a black face’ is exactly what we had become!” Just two blocks east of Trinity were the Lowden Homes, where DCP’s Nadyne Griffin lived, and Wright later remembered that when he arrived at Trinity, “we first had to stop looking at the neighbors around the church as ‘those people.’ ” Within eight months, he had introduced a new youth choir, and not long after that, he told the senior choir to expand its repertoire to embrace gospel music. Those innovations caused almost two dozen of Trinity’s existing members to leave the church, and Jerry later wrote that “eighteen months into my pastorate … I felt as if I were a failure. It seemed to me as if everyone was leaving our church.” But these changes brought in new members, and by 1977 Trinity’s congregation had grown to four hundred. In late 1978, the church moved into a new building with a seven-hundred-seat sanctuary, and in 1980, with Wright’s powerful sermons now being broadcast on the radio, Trinity’s membership began a rapid climb, reaching sixteen hundred by early 1981. The congregation included a number of prominent black Chicagoans, such as well-known Illinois appellate judge R. Eugene Pincham and Manford Byrd, like Val Jordan a charter member since 1961. In early 1981, when Byrd was passed over for promotion from deputy to superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools in favor of a black woman from California, Trinitarians were among the many black Chicagoans who vocally protested the denial of what Trinity called Byrd’s “earned ascension” in favor of an outsider. In response, Val Jordan and several others drafted a wide-ranging statement of values, modeled in part on the Ten Commandments, as a way of honoring Byrd at an August 9, 1981, ceremony. Trinity’s twelve-point “Black Value System” was notable for its powerful “disavowal of the pursuit of middleclassness” and an attendant warning against thinking “in terms of ‘we’ and ‘they’ ”—i.e., “those people”—“instead of ‘US’!” By fall of 1982, Trinity had reached twenty-eight hundred members and its annual budget was now $700,000. In response, Wright and a trio of academically oriented members—Sokoni Karanja, Ayana Johnson-Karanja, and Iva E. Carruthers—drafted an almost two-hundred-page “compendium text for church-wide study.” Wright wrote an eleven-page statement of Trinity’s mission, beginning with a forceful call for “a conscious cutting across class and caste lines and so-called economic levels” and “utterly abandoning or rejecting the notion of the ‘middle class’ as the proper vineyard into which God has called us to labor.” Wright also called out the usually unspoken dangers that “Black self-hatred” posed in African American communities, and he later recalled with some embarrassment how he had been entirely ignorant of the harm that youth gangs were doing in neighborhoods like Roseland until his eldest daughter Janet and her boyfriend were robbed at gunpoint in 1982 on Halsted Avenue, less than ten blocks from the Wrights’ home, by several Gangster Disciples. But perhaps equally daunting was how his daughter got her property returned, along with an apology, in just three hours after complaining to a next-door neighbor who knew who to call. In that 1982 essay, Wright emphasized that Trinitarians “start from the cultural strengths already in existence within the Black tradition,” a view in keeping with John McKnight’s social capital emphasis. Throughout the decade, Trinity’s outreach ministries would grow along with the church, with a food co-op and a credit union being joined by a housing ministry that addressed the problem of foreclosed, boarded-up homes plus a high school counseling project and Saturday youth programs. “Educating constituents as to all the nuances and subtleties of the racist political system operative in Chicago,” Wright wrote, “is a very definite part of our ministry at Trinity.” In 1983, Wright took a lead role, along with eight other black churchmen including Al Sampson, in fervently endorsing Harold Washington’s mayoral campaign. Borrowing Trinity’s own “unashamedly black and unapologetically Christian” slogan, the statement was supported by more than 250 members of the clergy. By 1986 Trinity had more than four thousand members, twenty-eight of whom were preparing for the ministry, and Wright was preaching at two separate Sunday services to cope with the growth. One charter member cited Wright’s “ability to call all his parishioners by their names, even as the church membership grew into the thousands,” as one more of his impressive gifts. Julia Speller wrote that by 1986 “a definite mission-consciousness began to emerge at Trinity,” and Jerry was pursuing a deepening interest in black Americans’ African cultural roots. Wright had been profoundly influenced by the pioneering black liberation theologian James H. Cone’s landmark 1969 book Black Theology and Black Power, although he strongly faulted Cone for calling African Americans “a people who were completely stripped of their African heritage.” Trinity, Wright wrote, “affirms our Africanness,” including “the premise that Christianity did not start in Europe. It started in Africa,” and “we affirm our African roots and use Africa as a starting point for understanding ourselves, understanding God, and understanding the world.” Indeed, “we understand Africa as the place where civilization began.” By the time of Obama’s visit to Trinity in March 1987, word about Jeremiah Wright’s church had spread well beyond Chicago. A PBS Frontline television crew and well-known black journalist Roger Wilkins had just spent days at Trinity preparing an hour-long documentary on the church that would be nationally broadcast ten weeks later. “The rooms of Trinity are crammed full of its members all day, every day,” Wilkins told viewers while describing the church’s outreach ministries and Bible-study classes. “Trinity is one of the fastest growing and strongest black churches in America.” Responding to Wilkins’s questions, Wright spoke colloquially and bluntly. For black teenagers in Roseland, Wright said, “You can’t be what you ain’t seen…. So many of our young boys haven’t seen nothing but the gangs and the pimps and the brothers on the corner,” and in their daily lives “they never have their horizons lifted.” But Wright also emphasized black Americans’ lack of self-esteem. “If I can somehow be white: a lot of black people have that feeling. If I can somehow be accepted. And Africa is a bad thing. I’m not African. I’m not African. I’m part Indian. I’m part Chinese. I’m part anything.” That part of Wright’s worldview would resonate deeply with Barack, but his perspective on the breadth and depth of American racism matched that of Martin Luther King Jr. “How do we attack a system, get at systemic evil and realize that it’s not the individuals, it’s the system,” he told Wilkins. “You hate the sin and not the sinner.” Wilkins closed the telecast with a prophetic description of Trinity’s importance. “This church will be measured by how much of its power will reach beyond its own doors, and by how much its members will reach back, back to those left behind.” The day of the broadcast, the Sun-Times told Chicagoans not to miss “a compelling and moving portrait of one Chicago clergyman who has made a difference.” Jeremiah Wright “sets a standard of excellence that should inspire clergy of all faiths.” “The first time I walked into Trinity, I felt at home,” Barack later told Wright’s daughter Janet. Furthermore, Obama recalled, “there was an explicitly political aspect to the mission and message of Trinity at that time that I found appealing.” In their first 1987 conversation, Barack tried to sell Wright on DCP’s program. “He came with this Saul Alinsky community organizing vision,” Wright recounted years later. “He was interested in organizing churches,” yet Barack’s depth of knowledge about the black church was woeful indeed. “He didn’t know who J. H. Jackson was,” Wright remembered, naming the conservative, dictatorial president of the National Baptist Convention who pastored Chicago’s Olivet Baptist Church and was infamous for changing Olivet’s address from 3101 South Parkway to 405 East 31st Street when Parkway was renamed Martin Luther King Drive. Wright remembers that Obama “had this wild-eyed idealistic exciting plan” of “organizing pastors and churches” all across Roseland in support of his Career Education Network. “I looked at him and I said, ‘Do you know what Joseph’s brother said when they saw him coming across the field?” Obama, utterly unfamiliar with the Bible, said no. “They said ‘Behold the dreamer.’ You’re dreaming. This is not going to happen,” Wright told him. “You’re in a minefield you have no concept about whatsoever in terms of trying to get us all to work together, even on something as important as the educational issues in the Roseland community,” Wright explained, citing the twin evils of denominational divides and local Chicago politics. Given Wright’s busy schedule, that first conversation ended after an hour. But Obama soon returned, talking first with Donita before sitting down with Wright, who remembers he had “questions about this unknown entity, the black church, and its theology…. I had studied Islam in West Africa, and he wanted to know about that.” In addition, “we talked about the difference between theological investigation, rabbinic study, and personal faith, personal beliefs, and how I separated those two,” Wright recalled. “Our visits became more of that nature and that level than the community organizing piece, because I said, ‘That ain’t going to happen. If you mention my name, I can tell you preachers who are not coming in the Roseland area.’ ” That surprised Obama, and Wright also spoke about the black church’s “rabid anti-Catholic” sentiment. “We would spend time talking about religious stuff like that to help him understand that brick wall he’s running up against in terms of organizing churches.” So “most of the time … we talked about how insane” religious antipathies could be, “more so than community organizing.” Barack continued to visit Wright in the months ahead, and their conversations gave Obama a greater understanding of why almost all of the people with whom he was working held their religious faith as a source of strength that could give them courage. It not only “bolstered them against heartache and disappointment” but could be “an active, palpable agent in the world,” undergirding their involvement by offering “a source of hope.” Witnessing that, Barack remembered, “moved me deeply” and “made me recognize that many of the impulses that … were propelling me forward were the same impulses that express themselves through the church.” Obama was even more warmly welcomed by Father Michael Pfleger at St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church in the Gresham neighborhood, well above DCP’s northern boundary. The thirty-eight-year-old Pfleger had been a seminary classmate of Holy Rosary’s Bill Stenzel, had first met Jerry Wright five years earlier in an Ashland Avenue barber shop, and was well acquainted with Deacon Tommy West, the energetic DCP member from St. Catherine’s who spent more time at St. Sabina than at his home church. Pfleger had grown up barely a mile west of St. Sabina on Chicago’s Southwest Side, and in 1966, at age seventeen, he had watched as an angry white mob attacked an open-housing march being led by Martin Luther King Jr. in Marquette Park, just a few blocks north. By 1987 Pfleger had been at St. Sabina for twelve years, and although his congregation was nowhere near the size of Trinity’s, no church in Chicago, and certainly not one with a white priest, offered as vibrant a Sunday service as Mike Pfleger did. Years later, Pfleger recalled that Obama “came in and introduced himself and what he was doing.” He spoke about how churches “were the most powerful tool in the community for social justice and for equality” and how they should be actively pursuing those goals, not watching from the sidelines. “I was amazed by his brilliance,” Pfleger recalled; he was struck as well by “his aggressiveness.” Pfleger asked Barack “what was his church,” because “people that want to work with churches ought to be in a church.” Barack replied that “he was still looking, had been visiting some places, Trinity being one of them.” Pfleger had expected a twenty-minute conversation, “and it went much longer.” He offered Obama his full support, and after Barack left, Pfleger could remember “walking out of this room saying, ‘That’s somebody to be watched. He’s going places.’ ” For Obama, these early months of 1987 were intense as he expanded his horizons and added to his growing set of influential acquaintances. On March 2, in faraway Jakarta, Lolo Soetoro died of liver disease at age fifty-two. If Ann called Barack with the news—“they did not talk often,” Sheila recalled—he did not mention it to her or anyone else. He also “never talked that much about his dad” or his death to Sheila, and as best she could tell, “Barack’s father played virtually no emotional role in Barack’s life.” He continued his weekly conversations with Greg Galluzzo—an hour on March 4, ninety minutes each on March 13 and 20, another hour on March 24—and he also introduced his good friend Johnnie Owens to Galluzzo. Barack and Johnnie had begun discussing whether Johnnie would leave Friends of the Parks and join Barack at DCP, but Owens needed a salary much like Barack’s $20,000, and that meant Barack would have to add the MacArthur Foundation as a funder in addition to CHD, Woods, and Wieboldt. By mid-March, Barack’s most pressing concern was on the jobs front, and on Monday, March 23—just two weeks before Election Day—Mayor Washington was coming to Roseland to open the much-delayed new Far South Side jobs center that his employment deputy Maria Cerda had agreed to establish more than six months earlier. In the run-up to that ceremony, Barack dealt extensively with Salim Al Nurridin, a politically sophisticated Roseland figure whose Roseland Community Development Corporation (RCDC) was relatively low profile but whose long-standing acquaintance with one of Barack’s new mentors allowed for an easy introduction to this young organizer who was “under the tutelage of Al Raby.” As a native of Altgeld, Salim knew Hazel Johnson, and he had significantly helped 9th Ward alderman Perry Hutchinson, now well known for his star role in the FBI’s sting operation, win the seat he was now in danger of losing on April 7. Salim had become a Muslim under the influence of Roseland’s least-known figure of quiet political significance, Sheikh Muhammad Umar Faruqi, who oversaw a mosque on South Michigan Avenue, but Salim was not a Nation of Islam “Black Muslim.” The new jobs center would be located in a building that Faruqi and Roseland’s low-key Muslim community had acquired. Salim worked easily with Barack, whom he saw as “a very energetic and purposeful young man, with a passion to do things effectively.” On that Monday morning, Washington and his two-man security detail arrived at the RCDC office at 33 East 111th Place. The mayor had been told he would be greeted by Loretta Augustine on behalf of DCP as well as Salim, and that Maria Cerda, Perry Hutchinson, DCP’s Dan Lee, and “Barac” Obama would be there as well. A city photographer snapped away as the hefty Washington, holding his own notes and with his trench coat thrown over his left arm, shook hands with local well-wishers as a beaming Loretta stood to his right clad in a handsome white coat. The mayor and Cerda listened carefully as Loretta thanked him for coming. One photograph captured Sheikh Faruqi a few paces behind Washington; three different photographs include a tall young man with a slightly bushy Afro standing in the rear of the small room, listening intensely to Washington and Loretta. Obama would later quote the mayor as saying to Loretta: “I’ve heard excellent things about your work.” Then the entire group walked outside and turned south on South Michigan Avenue. With traffic blocked off and the sun in their faces, Washington and Loretta led the procession a little more than a block to the new office at 11220 South Michigan. Sheikh Faruqi trailed slightly to Loretta’s left; Cerda, 34th Ward aldermanic candidate Lemuel Austin, and state senator Emil Jones Jr. trailed to Washington’s right. At the front door of the new office, Washington, Cerda, Loretta, and a camera-hogging Perry Hutchinson posed with a white ribbon and a pair of scissors. The mayor spoke to the crowd, and then the ribbon was cut. The mayor climbed into his car for a short drive to 200 East 115th Street, where he broke ground for a future Roseland health center. Barack had emphasized repeatedly to Loretta that she should press Washington to attend a DCP rally for their Career Education Network program, but Loretta had not gotten a commitment. In his own, overly dramatized retelling of the morning, Barack cursed in anger at her failing and stomped off while Dan Lee tried to calm him down. Loretta remembered no such scene, saying she had “never seen him angry” even when he must have been. “I’ve seen him drop his head,” but, beyond that, “he never showed it.” Tommy West agreed. “You could never see him angry.” Later that day, Barack had an initial appointment with a Hyde Park physician, Dr. David L. Scheiner, who would remember Obama exhibiting no emotional turmoil during his office visits. On March 28, four hundred former Wisconsin Steel workers attended a seventh-anniversary rally in South Chicago, where their pro bono lawyer, Tom Geoghegan, told them he hoped their lawsuit against International Harvester—which had just renamed itself Navistar—would soon go to trial. A day earlier Frank Lumpkin and others had picketed outside Navistar’s annual meeting at the Art Institute of Chicago. Envirodyne Industries, to which Harvester had sold Wisconsin before its sudden closing, was also suing Navistar, “alleging fraud and racketeering,” the Tribune noted. The U.S. Economic Development Administration had recouped a tiny portion of its $55 million loan to Envirodyne by selling the mill as scrap to Cuyahoga Wrecking for $3 million, but Cuyahoga went bankrupt before clearing the site, leaving the rusting shell of one mill as a haunting symbol of South Deering’s past. “Frank Lumpkin deserves a spot in the organizers’ hall of fame,” the Tribune rightly observed. On April 2, Obama joined Mary Ellen Montes and Bruce Orenstein for a joint UNO–DCP press conference in response to Mary Ryan’s private approaches on behalf of Waste Management Inc. Barack, Lena, and Bruce had decided that playing hard to get—indeed, very hard to get—would maximize the price WMI had already indicated it was willing to pay to expand its Southeast Side landfill capacity. UNO and DCP publicly embraced a no-exceptions moratorium on any new or expanded landfills, while calling for WMI to “commit to a long-term reinvestment program” for the “economic development of neighborhoods around its landfills,” the Sun-Times reported. UNO and DCP were sending a clear message they were willing to make a deal, but WMI had to be generous in purchasing their assent. The next day, Barack again met for an hour with Greg Galluzzo—in April, as in March, they would have five hours of conversation spread over four weekly meetings. Most of Chicago was consumed by the mayoral contest that would climax on April 7. Ed Vrdolyak was running a surprisingly populist, multiethnic campaign, while Tom Hynes seemed focused on trying to take down Vrdolyak rather than targeting Washington. The Tribune heartily endorsed the mayor, saying that “Chicago is in better shape today than it was when Mr. Washington took office” in 1983. Uppermost among Washington’s “unfinished business,” the paper pointedly added, was “helping depressed neighborhoods get better housing and more jobs.” Two days before the election, Tom Hynes dropped out, in a strategic attempt to unite white voters behind Vrdolyak. On Election Day, Washington swept through Altgeld Gardens in a voter-turnout effort, and he ultimately triumphed with almost 54 percent of the vote. One poll showed him winning 15 percent of white voters and 97 percent of blacks. In Washington’s best precinct, Marlene Dillard’s London Towne Homes, a young 8th Ward precinct captain named Donne Trotter was given credit for the mayor winning 795 out of the 798 votes cast. Citywide, Ed Vrdolyak received 42 percent, which the Tribune noted was “better than anyone had predicted.” There also was no question that “the biggest loser” was Tom Hynes, whose sullying of the family name among black Chicagoans would redound in another election two decades later. Another loser was Alderman Perry Hutchinson, who was narrowly edged out by his predecessor, Robert Shaw, in what one observer termed “a choice between two snakes.” An indictment followed just six days later, and Hutchinson was soon on his way to federal prison, where he died at age forty-eight. Obama had attained such a glowing reputation among the CHD staffers at the Chicago archdiocese that Cynthia Norris, the thirty-year-old director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministries, requested that he conduct a training session for the eighteen delegates Chicago was sending to the National Black Catholic Congress in Washington in late May. Norris wanted the delegates to be well prepared to represent Chicago at the huge assembly, the first such gathering since 1894, and Obama trained them in the basement of Holy Name Cathedral, the famous diocesan seat just west of downtown’s Magnificent Mile. At the end of April, Gamaliel hosted a second weeklong training session at Techny Towers in suburban Northbrook. DCP’s Margaret Bagby was among the forty or so community members who attended, along with Lena, Mike Kruglik, and CHD’s Renee Brereton, plus younger organizers such as Linda Randle. Augustana College senior David Kindler, a young trainee who had already gotten a taste of organizing work in the Quad Cities area where Rock Island, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa, face each other across the Mississippi River, would remember Mary Gonzales as the star performer among an otherwise all-male and largely macho cast of trainers: Greg Galluzzo, Peter Martinez, and Phil Mullins. “Hard-assed” and “maternal,” Mary was just “phenomenally good.” Barack took charge of at least two sessions, and Kindler would recall him as someone who “likes everybody to love him.” Galluzzo wanted to nurture and develop new, full-time organizers, and he was regularly petitioning every possible foundation to contribute to the first-year salaries of beginning organizers, just as Kellman had done with CHD and Woods when he hired Barack. Galluzzo knew that organizers must develop “sensitivity, patience and inventiveness” and understand that “he or she is there as a facilitator” who has to motivate community organizations composed entirely of volunteers. “Since every church is an important potential organizing base,” Greg said, “an organizer needs to know something of the theological and institutional characteristics of the churches in the community.” Barack’s top priority was still his Career Education Network, and his goal was to win Washington’s support for the program. Thanks to Al Raby’s introductions at City Hall, Barack had already spoken with Luz Martinez, a relatively junior aide, about a mayoral endorsement, and in early May a seven-page document entitled “Proposal for Career Education and Intervention Services in the Far South Side of Chicago” was sent to Washington with a cover letter bearing the names of DCP president Dan Lee and now “Executive Director” Barack H. Obama. The cover letter said DCP wanted “to identify concrete ways that we can positively impact our schools” and emphasized that they “are not seeking any City funding for our program,” although they did want the mayor’s “whole-hearted support and endorsement of our program” and requested that he meet with DCP leaders sometime in the next month. They also asked that Washington “keynote a large meeting of parents and church leadership,” which DCP hoped to convene in mid-June. In Barack’s own letter to Luz Martinez, he volunteered that Al Raby might have already mentioned DCP’s request to her or to her immediate boss, Kari Moe. The proposal said the number of blacks graduating from college in Illinois had declined since 1975, and that the dropout rate at the five Far South Side high schools was more than 40 percent. The scale of what Obama and DCP envisioned was grandiose, with “two central offices” coordinating the work of staff representatives at each high school plus supplementary personnel in various churches and social service agencies. The document said the program would give “individualized attention to at-risk students” and offer “incentives for student performance.” It would be “administered by the Developing Communities Project,” would have thirteen full-time employees as well as twenty part-time tutors, and required an annual budget of $531,000. “State funds would be used to fund this first year of the program,” with corporate and foundation support increasing the projected budget to $600,000 and then $775,000 in the two subsequent years. Obama’s plan might have seemed familiar to anyone who recalled Jerry Kellman’s Regional Employment Network and its initial $500,000 in state funding, but in this case underperforming high school students were taking the place of unemployed steelworkers. Barack believed a key ingredient was his “Proposed Advisory Board,” a list of fifteen people who “have been invited or have already accepted” a request to participate. His list was headed by Albert Raby and state senator Emil Jones, but it also included Carver-Wheatley principal Dr. Alma Jones, Chicago State president Dr. George Ayers, and Olive-Harvey president Homer Franklin. They were followed by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Dr. Gwendolyn LaRoche of the Chicago Urban League—whose name was misspelled—and Father Michael Pfleger. Also on the list were Ann Hallett of the Wieboldt Foundation, education researcher Dr. Fred Hess, Northwestern University’s Dr. John McKnight, and John Ayers from the Commercial Club. The list concluded with three of DCP’s most committed members: Dan Lee, Aletha Gibson, and Isabella Waller. Obama’s proposal did not go over well at City Hall. Three of the mayor’s aides marked up the document, highlighting its astonishing scale, eye-popping budget, and the preponderance of professionals on the proposed board. One staffer wrote that it needed “more parents/local community residents, student(s), employer(s),” but even a Sun-Times story headlined “ ’85 Dropout Rate Topped 50% at 29 City High Schools” failed to elevate DCP’s request among staff priorities. Fred Hess emphasized in the Tribune how the utmost priority should be “to make the schools more accountable at the local level,” and by May powerful Illinois House speaker Michael J. Madigan, along with Danny Solis and Mary Gonzales of UNO, had embraced a Hess-drafted school autonomy pilot program, House Bill 935. That plan would allow up to forty-six schools to operate independently of the CPS’s hierarchical bureaucracy, and when Washington appeared at UNO’s twenty-eight-hundred-person annual convention at the Chicago Hilton on May 21, he was pressed to support the bill. Washington told the crowd that UNO had “hit the nail on the head” in demanding more local autonomy, which Hess and others interpreted as an endorsement. The bill passed the Illinois House the next day, but Washington’s top aides quickly signaled that the mayor was actually opposed to such a “drastic” decentralization of CPS. Rival researcher Don Moore at Designs for Change opposed it too, and when Education Committee chairman Arthur Berman killed the measure in the state Senate, UNO acquiesced. Hess was furious, arguing that far-reaching educational changes during “the early years are the most crucial” if there was to be any hope of reducing sky-high dropout rates during high school. Barack still sought a response from the mayor’s office to his plan, and he contacted Joe Washington, a young staffer who was a Roseland native, but made no headway. Disappointed at City Hall’s lack of interest, Barack wrote another letter to the mayor, this one featuring the names of fifteen additional signatories in addition to DCP president Dan Lee. Three were DCP members—Aletha Gibson, Isabella Waller, and Ellis Jordan, a fellow PTA leader—and twelve were Roseland clergymen: Bill Stenzel, Rick Williams, Tony Van Zanten, Paul Burak, Tom Kaminski (whose surname was misspelled), Eddie Knox (a new DCP recruit who was the recently arrived pastor of Pullman Presbyterian Church), Joe Bennett, Alonzo Pruitt, Tyrone Partee, and three more. Obama’s inclusion of these new names suggested that a demonstration of DCP’s interdenominational support would impress either Joe Washington or the mayor. As pastors of “representative religious institutions of the Far South Side,” the signers warned that “high school age youth have been hit hard by the problems of the Chicago school system. In our area, we have seen too many youth drop out, join gangs, and turn to drugs and teen pregnancy instead of staying in school and going on to stable and successful careers.” The letter again requested a brief meeting with the mayor to discuss what was now called “a pilot Career Education and Intervention Network.” Noting that it would complement Washington’s nascent Mayor’s Education Summit, it said, “we see the urgent need for this program. We also see the need for your leadership and support in getting it started.” But invoking the twelve Roseland pastors was not any more successful for Barack. One Washington aide jotted on the letter: “Mr. Obama is paid staff person. From Roseland upset w/ Joe.” A note to Kari Moe’s secretary instructed, “Do not schedule meeting,” and two weeks later the office file on DCP was marked “Close.” Months would pass before Barack was able to meet with one of Washington’s top aides. By late May, Barack and DCP’s board decided to concentrate on the education project and pull back from any further employment focus. The new MOET office had been a signal achievement, but DCP’s visits to major local employers—Libby, McNeill & Libby, Carl Buddig, and Sherwin-Williams—to request that they hire local residents had only uncovered news that all three were soon closing their Far South Side plants. No one in DCP was more focused on jobs than Marlene Dillard, but this shift to education opened up tensions within the organization that began with Jerry Kellman’s initial decision to have DCP cover such a wide group of different neighborhoods. The southern trio of Altgeld Gardens, Eden Green, and Golden Gate were geographically separate from Roseland and West Pullman, and the westernmost and easternmost neighborhoods, Washington Heights and London Towne Homes, were not eager to be associated even with Roseland and especially not with the Gardens. These divisions were personified by the differing perspectives of Loretta Augustine and her two close friends, Yvonne Lloyd and Margaret Bagby, each of whom lived just west of Altgeld, and the two different women who represented St. John de la Salle parish on DCP’s board, Marlene Dillard and Adrienne Jackson. “Certain issues I was not interested in,” Dillard explained years later. “I couldn’t center myself around individuals who were in Altgeld Gardens.” Residents of London Towne were “not on the poverty line,” and although they worried about job loss, they did not require the most basic job training skills that most Altgeld residents needed. In addition, “my son went to a private school,” so Roseland’s failing public high schools likewise were not a high priority. “I don’t feel that London Towne and Roseland can be linked together,” for “we have different values and different interests.” Yvonne Lloyd, who lived near Altgeld in Eden Green, agreed with Dillard’s explanation. The areas “had different problems” and indeed were “totally different” because solid residential areas like London Towne had “facilities that Altgeld didn’t.” She, like Margaret and especially Loretta, believed Altgeld’s scale of deprivation meant it should be DCP’s top concern, because “those were the people we were really, really concerned about” the most. Betty Garrett, the gentle mainstay of Bill Stenzel’s congregation at Holy Rosary, watched as the divide deepened between Loretta and Marlene. “They fought constantly,” she recalled, mostly over Dillard’s emphasis on jobs. “Loretta wanted it to be more widespread.” Marlene understood that Loretta “was more interested in poverty issues” than she was, and over time her attitude became “let Loretta and them take care of Altgeld Gardens.” Barack was very close to both Loretta and Marlene, often talking with Marlene’s mother and helping Marlene when she ran for election to London Towne’s board of directors. Yet by May 1987, there was no getting around the power struggle within DCP, and how Loretta’s viewpoint was more widely shared than Marlene’s. “Barack was the person who held it together” as long as it did hold, Marlene recalled, but after the May meeting, she shifted her attention to DCP’s nascent landfill alliance with UNO’s Southeast Chicago chapter. If DCP hoped to make Barack’s Career Education Network even a modest-sized reality, it needed a second full-time organizer, such as Johnnie Owens, and the money to pay his salary. By late spring 1987, Barack had submitted his grant proposal to the MacArthur Foundation, where it went to Aurie Pennick, an African American and South Side native. MacArthur had little experience with community organizing, but soon after Pennick’s arrival in 1984, she had initiated a program called the Fund for Neighborhood Initiatives, which would direct about $700,000 annually toward “revitalizing some of Chicago’s poorest communities.” The small world of Chicago philanthropy was highly interactive, and Pennick had heard Ken Rolling speak glowingly about DCP and was aware that it was being funded by Woods, Wieboldt, and CHD. Pennick lived in West Pullman and her daughter attended Reformation Lutheran’s small school on 113th Street, so she knew of DCP’s connection there too. But when she read Barack’s proposal, she was “underwhelmed” by it. Pennick was deeply averse to the “top-down” type of projects that often won CHD support, and instead favored indigenous activists such as Hazel Johnson from Altgeld. She met with Barack and a trio of DCP members—Loretta, Marlene, and Yvonne—but came away with mixed reactions. In every such meeting, as with city council leader Tim Evans almost a year earlier, Barack insisted that his community members take the lead while he remained almost silently in the background. “He would never speak. He always put us out front,” Cathy Askew explained in recalling a time when she and Marlene accompanied Barack to a meeting with Jean Rudd at Woods. All of the DCP women remember Barack picking them up in his small blue car; wintertime appointments downtown were more memorable than summer ones because Barack’s car had a hole in the floor and little if any heat. Yvonne Lloyd remembered the preparations for the MacArthur meeting, with Barack insisting that she, Loretta, and Marlene have the speaking parts and not him. “ ‘You have to be the ones to actually do it because this is your community, not mine,’ ” Lloyd recalled him saying. “ ‘You can tell your story better than I can.’ ” Aurie Pennick found Loretta Augustine “very articulate, very smart” at DCP’s meeting with MacArthur. “I was impressed with her. Barack was a little skinny guy in the back, said very little.” Yet Pennick’s South Side roots left her uncomfortable with how DCP “was very much noninclusive of lower-income folk,” such as the actual residents of Altgeld. She also detected a “kind of classist thinking” in some of the DCP members’ statements. Pennick told them she had not heard about them being active in West Pullman and asked Barack if DCP had held community meetings there. He assured her that DCP did have a presence there, but when the meeting ended, Pennick “wasn’t sure whether MacArthur would make a grant.” In subsequent days, when Pennick asked her immediate neighbors if they were familiar with DCP, no one was, and she decided that DCP was “too new and lightweight” to merit MacArthur funding. To bolster DCP’s dropout prevention focus, Barack wanted to generate parental interest in his CEN idea before school ended in early June. He and his two most energetic education volunteers, Aletha Strong Gibson and Ann West, called on the principals of all five Roseland area high schools and asked if they could hold “parent assemblies” in Roseland, Altgeld, Washington Heights, and West Pullman. Barack “was very professional … very articulate,” Ann West recalled. “He was driven, and he was committed…. It didn’t appear to be just a job.” Aletha felt similarly, describing Barack as “heartfelt” and “committed to the people” as well as “very charismatic.” He spent many hours with Aletha and Ann, but even though he knew Aletha had spent her junior year of college in Kenya, and that Ann was a white Australian woman married to an African American, Barack never said anything about his father or about Genevieve. “He was so private,” Ann remembered, and they knew nothing of his personal life. “He didn’t mix the two.” DCP’s members collected a repertoire of Obama’s stock expressions, which became something of a running joke. Margaret Bagby remembered, “Whenever he tells you, ‘I don’t think,’ he’s telling you that he knows what he wants. And you really need to look out when he says, ‘My sense is that.’ ” Ann West recalled, “He would say to us, ‘This is what we need to do,’ ” and if he were asked a question and he didn’t know the answer, he would reply with one or both of these phrases: “Let me look into it” and “I’ll research it,” Yvonne remembered. They could all see, as Yvonne explained, how “precise and thorough” Barack was in making plans. One Saturday morning before DCP’s “parent assembly” in West Pullman, Aurie Pennick was doing yard work in front of her home, when “all of a sudden I hear ‘Miss Pennick’ ” from someone who recognized her from behind. It was Barack, passing out flyers for DCP’s upcoming meeting. “This is a smart man. He probably figured out where I live,” Pennick immediately realized. DCP’s leafleting was extensive, and Pennick remembers going to the meeting “and it’s packed…. They really had thought it out,” and Barack’s careful strategizing paid off just as he had hoped. “I of course made the grant,” Pennick explained, and in September DCP received $20,000 from MacArthur for general operating support—exactly what was needed to pay Johnnie Owens’s salary. Owens came from a working-class black family, and for him wearing a shirt and tie to Friends of the Parks’ downtown office was far more inviting than working out of DCP’s windowless office on the ground floor of Holy Rosary’s small rectory in Roseland. But Obama was determined to hire him, and Owens recalls Barack challenging him by saying things like, “ ‘If you’re really interested in changing neighborhoods and building power, you can’t do it from downtown.’ ” To sweeten the deal, Barack gave Johnnie money from DCP to buy a car, and yet was royally pissed when Owens got a brand-new Nissan Sentra, which was far swankier than the rapidly aging Honda Civic Obama was still driving. “We always had a little tension about that,” Owens remembered, but Barack was exceptionally happy to have Johnnie start in July. DCP’s work in West Pullman had attracted some new members, including Loretta’s friend Rosa Thomas and a young housewife, Carolyn Wortham, but Barack’s grand plans for a half-million-dollar-a-year CEN depended on support from Emil Jones and the Illinois state legislature, which would be struggling with the state budget through June. Barack organized a lobbying trip to Springfield and took some of DCP’s most devoted members—Dan Lee, Cathy Askew, and Ernie Powell, Loretta and her friend Rosa Thomas, several other ladies, Ellis Jordan, as well as Loretta’s young daughter and both of Cathy’s. Emil Jones was a gracious host, posing with the whole group for a photo in his office. Dan Lee’s dark jacket and white pocket square matched his mod eyeglass frames all too well, Loretta looked lovely in a stylish white dress, and Ernie Powell personified strong workingman dignity with a well-knotted tie below one of Illinois’s more impressive mustaches. Barack wore a blue blazer, a white shirt, and no tie, but he closed his eyes when the camera clicked. Barack’s dream of obtaining a $500,000 state appropriation remained just that, although Jones arranged for the Illinois State Board of Education to give DCP a $25,000 planning grant that gave Barack enough to get a semblance of CEN started in early 1988. Back in Chicago, Obama continued his almost weekly discussions with Greg Galluzzo, who told numerous organizing colleagues that Barack was “really special.” But even though Greg spent more time with him than any other person in Barack’s workday world, he knew almost nothing of Barack’s home life, and he met Sheila Jager only once in passing. The young couple’s first nine months of living together had melded two intensely busy lives into an increasingly cloistered relationship where Sheila saw almost no one from Barack’s day job, and Asif was their only regular contact in Hyde Park’s graduate student community. Barack’s heavy smoking was a regular topic of comment within DCP, and Reformation Lutheran pastor Tyrone Partee nicknamed him “Smokestack.” Sheila said that at home, “he actually introduced me to smoking, so we smoked like chimneys together.” She wanted a cat, and after Barack relented, “Max” joined their household and became a less-than-fully-welcome presence in Obama’s life. “He drove Barack crazy because the cat would always pee” in their one large houseplant. Sheila recalls the early months of 1987 as a time when she witnessed a profound self-transformation in Barack. “He was actually quite ordinary when I met him, although I always felt there was something quite special about him even during our earliest months, but he became someone quite extraordinary … and so very ambitious, and this happened over the course of a few months. I remember very clearly when this transformation happened, and I remember very specifically that by 1987, about a year into our relationship, he already had his sights on becoming president.” This change in Barack encompassed two interwoven themes: a belief that he had a “calling,” coupled with a heightened awareness that to pursue it he had to fully identify as African American. The “ ‘calling’ had more to do with developing a sense of purpose in the world,” Sheila later explained, and even two years earlier, Genevieve Cook had sensed an incipient presence of the same thing. She remembered thinking that “all along he had some notion of testing his own mettle and potential for greatness, and that it was as much about that personal journey as it was finding the best way to effect the maximum positive social change. Those two aspirations, the personal and the heroic,” were “melded from very early on.” Yet by early summer 1987, Barack’s understanding of his “calling” was as “something he felt he really had no control over; it was his destiny,” Sheila explained. “He always said this was destiny.” By then, Barack had gotten to know Al Raby and John McKnight, whose political roots lay in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, and he had a relationship with Jeremiah Wright, whose theology sprang from that same soil. Barack had also developed an acquaintance with Emil Jones, a savvy politician, and he had witnessed at close range the charm and aura Harold Washington possessed even in a nondescript storefront. But as Sheila experienced and reflected upon what occurred, she realized the stimulus for Barack’s transformation lay not in one or another precinct of black Chicago, but in the disparaging evaluation he had received from her father back at Christmas. “After that visit, and over the course of spring ’87, he changed—brooding, quiet, distant—and it was only then, as I recall, that he began to talk about going into politics and race became a big issue between us.” Once “we got back from California,” Barack “became very introspective and quiet,” Sheila recalled. “I remember very specifically that it was then he began to talk about entering politics and his presidential ambitions and conflicts about our worlds being too far apart.” Meanwhile, “the marriage discussion dragged on and on,” but it was affected by what Sheila describes as Barack’s “torment over this central issue of his life,” the question of his own “race and identity.” The “resolution of his ‘black’ identity was directly linked to his decision to pursue a political career,” and to the crystallization of the “drive and desire to become the most powerful person in the world.” Eight years later, Obama would say that through organizing “I think I really grew into myself in terms of my identity,” and that his community work “represented the best of my legacy as an African American.” It had allowed him to feel that his “own life would be vindicated in some fashion,” and his immersion in black Chicago gave him “a sense of self-understanding and empowerment and connection.” Obama’s daily experiences on the Far South Side had reshaped him. “I came home in Chicago. I began to see my identity and my individual struggles were one with the struggles that folks face in Chicago. My identity problems began to mesh once I started working on behalf of something larger than myself.” He also explained that organizing had “rooted me in a specific community of African Americans whose values and stories I soaked up and found an affinity with.” And most specifically, “by the second year,” he told one interviewer, “I just really felt deeply connected to those people that I was working with.” Sheila was convinced that “something fundamentally changed” inside Barack during the first half of 1987 that had transformed him into a “powerfully ambitious person” right before her eyes. “We lived so cut off from everyone else” that no one else was privy to her perspective, and Barack’s ability to “compartmentalize his work and home life, to the extent that the two worlds were never brought together physically” or in any social setting, meant that their increasingly stressed and intense relationship existed as “an island unto ourselves.” In later years, Obama once said that his experiences in Chicago had “converged to give me a sense of strength.” At an expressly religious event, he cited Roseland as where “I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher purpose.” Sheila caviled at that, saying she “would not call him religious. Perhaps spiritual is a better description” of the man she lived with. “Barack was definitely not religious in the conventional sense. He talked about God in the abstract, but it was mostly in terms of his destiny and/or some spiritual force.” Early in the summer, Barack’s older brother Roy visited Chicago and met Sheila briefly, but Barack went alone to the Chicago home of his maternal uncle Charles Payne for his nephew Richard’s high school graduation. His sister Maya had just completed her junior year at Punahou, and she wanted to visit a number of mainland colleges before submitting her applications. Ann Dunham was attending the Southeast Asian Summer Studies Institute being held at Northern Illinois University, west of Chicago in DeKalb, so she and Maya arrived in Chicago before Sheila left to see her parents in California and make a brief initial research trip to South Korea. This was the first time Barack and Ann had seen each other in eighteen months, and Ann had gained a tremendous amount of weight and now seemed “very matronly.” She had not made much headway on her Ph.D. dissertation, in part because she had spent half of 1986 in the Punjab, working as a consultant for the Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan. But her analysis was coming together, and one of her closest academic colleagues described her conclusions in words that echoed what her son had learned from John McKnight. “Anti-poverty programs … only reinforce the power of elites” and “it is resources and not motivation that poor villagers lack,” in Indonesia as elsewhere. Once Ann’s summer institute was complete, she would return to Pakistan for three more months of work. Barack’s close friend Asif Agha recalled playing volleyball out at Indiana Dunes during Maya’s visit, and Jerry Kellman remembers Barack bringing Maya along to a barbecue at Jerry’s home. During this trip, Maya wanted to see the campuses of the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin, where Asif spent much of the summer studying Tibetan. Early in the summer Barack decided that he and Sheila should acquire a new Macintosh SE computer, which had debuted just three months earlier. “It was the latest model and very fancy,” Sheila remembered, and as with their rent, Barack happily footed the bill. “Barack said we both needed it,” and they each used it a lot, but when it first arrived, Barack had no idea how to operate the mouse. A call to Asif resulted in the dispatch of Asif’s other best friend, Doug Glick, a fellow linguistic anthropology graduate student who quickly showed Barack that you do not hold the mouse up in the air. By the end of June, with Sheila away from Chicago and Asif up in Madison, Barack and Doug on several weekends made the three-hour drive up to where Asif was housesitting in some Wisconsin professor’s lakefront home. Obama years later would publicly joke that he had had “some fun times, which I can’t discuss in detail,” on those visits and “some good memories,” but Glick clearly remembered the long drives in Barack’s noisy Honda. Barack was “just a regular guy,” an “incredibly friendly guy” with “a great sense of humor.” During the road trips, Barack talked “about wanting to write the great American novel…. I spent an awful lot of time in the car with him. These are long drives, he can talk,” and “he doesn’t shut up.” At least once Obama mentioned an interest in law school, but he rarely talked about his DCP work. “I never heard him talking about community work and public service as the driving force of who he was.” Sometimes “I’m making fun of him,” asking, “ ‘If I whisper “shut up,” will you hear it with those ears?’ ” But Barack clearly had “tremendous intelligence, tremendous charisma,” and indeed “a certain kind of aura to him,” Glick thought. Doug, like Asif, felt that “Barack is not that black,” but it also seemed as if “he was ideologically loaded a little.” During one drive, Glick recounted, “we had a god moment. The strangest thing that has ever happened to me in my life happened with him.” Every trip included a pit stop to get gas and pick up something to drink, and on one occasion Barack was “sitting in the car in the driver’s seat” with the window open as Doug returned carrying snacks and bottles. “I tripped. The Snapple goes flying…. We both watch as it hits the ground, breaks like an egg, goes up through the air, goes through the window and both of the things land on his legs face up.” Yet somehow Obama was completely dry. “We’re never going to forget that,” Barack said to Doug. “Religions start at moments like that.” In Chicago, the battling intensified over the Southeast Side landfills and their toxic impact on nearby residents. The Sun-Times published a six-part, front-page series of stories titled “Our Toxic Trap” which focused on CID, the Metropolitan Sanitary District’s (MSD) “shit farm” just north of Altgeld Gardens, and older, more mysterious dumps like the Paxton Landfill. Hazel Johnson was quoted on the “nauseating stench” of sewage sludge permeating Altgeld and said, “it smells just like dead bodies.” In response, the state legislature created a special joint committee to investigate the problems, and the MSD’s board pledged its own study after an angry public meeting during which Johnson called one African American MSD commissioner an “Uncle Tom.” After a large illegal dump was discovered in a remote corner of Auburn Gresham, four city sanitation workers who were excavating the waste for transfer were “overcome by noxious garbage fumes” and hospitalized. On June 30, WMI’s Mary Ryan proposed to Chicago’s city council that if the city would set aside its existing moratorium on landfill growth, WMI would move forward with an “economic and community development assistance program” that could be a huge “ ‘catalyst’ toward revitalizing” the entire Southeast Side. But Ryan’s proposal only intensified the fury of local activists like Marian Byrnes, Vi Czachorski, and Hazel Johnson over a possible deal between the city and WMI to expand landfill capacity. “Perhaps Washington is Vrdolyak in disguise on dump issues,” James Landing, the chairman of the Lake Calumet Study Committee (LCSC), told his fellow allies. With a new and energetic Chicago chapter of the international environmental group Greenpeace eagerly joining in, Southeast Side activists prepared for a July 29 blockade of all dumping at CID. A large rally drew media coverage, and a dozen or more Greenpeace members and local activists would chain themselves together to CID’s entrance gate to block waste trucks from entering the landfill. By the morning of the twenty-ninth, DCP’s Dan Lee, Cathy Askew, Margaret Bagby, Loretta Augustine, Betty Garrett, and Obama joined the protesters. Cathy recalled years later, “He led that. He led that in the background. He had to be there to bail them out.” The day was “beastly hot,” one young Greenpeace member remembered, and “wearing a media-friendly buttoned-down shirt” became a sweaty mistake. But the blockade was a grand success. The Daily Calumet reported that a crowd of 150 people gathered and said it was “the largest environmental protest in years.” As many as a hundred waste trucks were backed up on the nearby expressway and unable to enter CID, as protesters chanted, “Take it back!” They blocked the entry gate from 10:00 A.M. until midafternoon. One photo caption said: “Wearing a gas mask, Deacon Daniel Lee of the Developing Communities Project … makes a point about odors and toxic wastes.” Some reporters lost interest as the day dragged on, and the next morning’s Sun-Times erroneously reported that “there were no arrests.” Leonard Lamkin, an East Side activist who joined the chain-in, said that “when the media went away, that’s when they made the arrests.” Hazel Johnson and Marian Byrnes were among the sixteen participants taken into custody, and the women remained jailed for six hours even though the men were released in less than two. Scott Sederstrom, the young, overdressed Greenpeacer, thought “it was almost an act of mercy by the Chicago police to take us into their air-conditioned precinct house for booking…. The Cubs game was on TV in the station” and comments about baseball leavened the fingerprinting process. “As a further act of generosity, they let me stay in the air-conditioned area watching a little more of the game” instead of moving Sederstrom to a holding cell. Given the Cubs’ all-too-typical performance, though—they were trailing 10–0 by the seventh-inning stretch—interest in the game understandably waned. Weeks later the charges were dropped against defendants who agreed not to enter any WMI properties for one year. Before the summer ended, Hazel Johnson and Marian Byrnes staged three more protests near the CID entrance, taking care not to get arrested. They also testified before the special joint legislative committee, chaired by Emil Jones. Assisting Hazel was a thirty-five-year-old black man who had just returned to Chicago after working toward a master’s degree at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and who had earlier won a Rhodes Scholarship to attend Oxford University in England. Like Jones, Melvin J. “Mel” Reynolds was eyeing a challenge against incumbent U.S. congressman Gus Savage in the spring 1988 Democratic primary, and both men—like Savage—were eager to raise their profiles among district residents angry over authorities’ inability to take meaningful action against the Southeast Side’s multiple toxic threats. Several months earlier, Harold Washington had elevated Howard Stanback to an influential post as his assistant in charge of the city’s infrastructure. An African American economist, Stanback had taught at New York’s New School for Social Research until he came to Chicago as Maria Cerda’s deputy at MOET. His new appointment made him the mayor’s primary adviser on Chicago’s landfill crisis, and in late summer 1987, Stanback gave Washington a memo that laid out the city’s options. Chicago had done “very little towards developing and implementing alternatives to dumping,” making the city almost completely dependent on landfill availability. The only solution was “the O’Brien Locks property currently owned by the Metropolitan Sanitary District,” but using that property would mean lifting the moratorium and incurring a huge uproar from Southeast Chicago. Stanback gave the mayor two options for how to proceed. One would be to convey the land to WMI, to whom “the site is probably worth $1 billion,” and in order “to neutralize opposition to lifting the moratorium,” WMI would contribute sufficient funds to the surrounding neighborhoods, just as Mary Ryan’s outreach efforts envisioned. Stanback believed that this could succeed, even with WMI’s “negative image,” and that this was superior to the second option, which would involve the city itself operating a landfill on the O’Brien Locks property. Stanback believed political opposition would be higher to this scenario because it would not include WMI’s contributing to community revitalization projects. “Operating a landfill is not a business the City should enter,” Stanback recommended. One Saturday, Stanback drove to South Chicago to meet Bruce Orenstein at UNO’s East 91st Street office. Also there that morning was DCP’s Barack Obama, whom Bruce had asked to join them. Stanback described the city’s thinking regarding the landfill and WMI’s proposal, but he also explained that Washington wanted to be sure that WMI’s big gift would not be controlled by the Southeast Side’s traditional power brokers, particularly South Chicago Savings Bank president James A. Fitch, a longtime backer of mayoral rival Ed Vrdolyak and the dominant figure in the four-year-old Southeast Chicago Development Commission (SEDCOM). If a deal could be cut with WMI, the mayor wanted his allies—such as UNO, with whom Washington had worked in close alliance for four years—to take charge of the windfall. “Barack in particular, his eyes got so bright,” Stanback remembered. “He said, ‘This can be one of the biggest community development coups of all time.’ I said, ‘You’re right,’ ” but UNO at present had no development capacity. “We agreed that nothing was going to happen anytime soon,” Stanback recalled, but “we agreed in principle” that UNO, DCP, and the city would closely coordinate as discussions moved forward. When Fitch then wrote to another Washington aide, budget director Sharon Gist Gilliam, to initiate a discussion of lifting the moratorium to allow for WMI’s use of the O’Brien parcel, Gilliam waited twelve days before sending Fitch a cold, rude reply stating that she had given his letter to Stanback. For Obama, the late summer of 1987 was a busy and intense time. Throughout July, his hourly consultations with Greg Galluzzo were more than weekly, but from August forward the two men met only twice monthly, as Greg began having ninety-minute or longer sessions with Johnnie Owens almost weekly. One weekend, Barack met Ann and Maya in New York, where Maya was looking at Barnard College and Ann was visiting friends before returning to Pakistan via London. A rooftop photograph shows Ann and Barack with several of her anthropologist friends, including Tim Jessup, who had first met Barack in Jakarta four years earlier and had seen him again in Brooklyn in 1985 with Genevieve. Barack stayed with Hasan and Raazia Chandoo in Brooklyn Heights, playing basketball nearby with Hasan and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan. Hasan recalled that “by that time he knows for sure he wants to be a political person,” and Beenu Mahmood, then a lawyer in Sidley & Austin’s New York office, remembered the visit similarly. “By that time he was very clear that he was going into politics” and “it was very clear that law would be the vehicle for getting into politics for him.” Several nights Raazia cooked dinner, but one thing had most definitely changed: by 1987 Barack never again “partied” as he had so many times in 1984 and 1985. Hasan recalled Barack mentioning how brutally cold Chicago winters were and also remembers him describing the time he and Johnnie had to duck behind a car when they heard gunfire nearby in Palmer Park. Raazia, five years younger, found “Barack a little bit arrogant”—just “intellectually arrogant,” Hasan interjected—“so I didn’t want much to do with him.” Obama was back in Chicago by the end of the second week in August, and he may or may not have seen a prominent headline in the Defender that would have reminded him of an influential relationship from earlier in his life: “Frank Davis Dead at 81.” During Sheila’s midsummer visit home, she told her mother much of what Barack had said to her in recent months, and Shinko Jager in turn recounted Sheila’s comments to Mike Dees, the family’s closest friend, who had met Barack months earlier during the Christmas holiday. Barack’s marriage proposal still loomed, and “if Sheila went with Barack, she would have to follow his lead. He wanted to be president.” Shinko remained opposed to the marriage, “but she never gave a reason,” Mike recounted. “I was against it because I thought they were two ambitious people, and I knew they wanted their own separate careers, and he was talking about being president, which I thought was a little strange” for a twenty-five-year-old community organizer. But there was also something more, something Barack had begun to articulate to Sheila. “There was a problem there,” Mike recalled. “He was concerned if he was going to take the steps to the presidency with a white wife.” One August Friday, Sheila joined Barack for the trip to Asif’s summer house in Madison. Sheila was “very quiet” and slept in the back of the car most of the drive, but an unusual tension was present. By Saturday morning, the problem broke into the open, and Barack and Sheila kept pretty much to themselves upstairs. But according to someone there that weekend, “it’s the summer … these houses are old. You’d die if you closed windows. Everything is open.” From morning onward “they went back and forth, having sex, screaming yelling, having sex, screaming yelling.” It continued all day. “That whole afternoon they went back and forth between having sex and fighting.” Others remember “moving around to the other side of the porch just to be able to talk.” It “was a long weekend” and “an incredibly unpleasant one,” one person recalled. “It was so stressed and tense.” Barack tried “to be more social about it,” and “they came down a few times to grab a beer, to eat,” but “then they went back up to scream or fight.” Sheila was “a very sweet person … very mild-mannered,” and “certainly exotic” in her looks, but “shy and withdrawn” that “extremely emotional” weekend. “They called truces here and there, but it kept popping back up” that Saturday afternoon, as “she screamed and they fought.” Sheila’s voice came through loud and clear: “That’s wrong! That’s wrong! That’s not a reason,” she was heard saying. As the others talked quietly, the explanation of what they were hearing was shared: Barack’s political destiny meant that he and Sheila could not have a long-term future together, no matter how deeply they loved each other. But she refused to accept his rationale: “the fact that it was her race.” It was clear—audibly clear—that “she was unbelievably in love with him,” that “the sex for her was the way to bring it back.” Barack “was very drawn to her, they were very close,” yet he felt trapped between the woman he loved and the destiny he knew was his. According to one friend, Barack “wasn’t black enough to pull that off and to rise up” with a white wife. Sunday afternoon Barack drove them south to Chicago, with Sheila again napping in the back seat. “Thank god it’s a crappy car that made a lot of noise!” A quarter century later, Sheila had almost no recollection of going with Barack to Madison, but she unhesitatingly characterized their relationship as “a very tumultuous love affair.” No matter how others saw Obama, “the Barack I knew was not emotionally detached, in control, and cool,” she stressed. Instead, Barack was “a very passionate, sentimental” and “deeply emotional person,” indeed “the most overwhelmingly passionate and caring person I ever knew.” In Barack’s workday world, Cathy Askew, the white single mother of two half-black daughters, witnessed most starkly Barack’s newly articulated racial identity. With a new school year about to begin, Cathy told Barack about what she considered a perplexing and offensive racial conundrum: although the Chicago Board of Health said her daughters were black, their school in West Pullman wanted to count them as white. Cathy rejected this binary view of racial identity—“50-50 is a good term”—and expected biracial Barack to agree. She was astounded when he rejected any middle ground, especially since he had spent most of his childhood in a predominantly “hapa” world. But he did. “He said, ‘Well, there comes a time when you have to pick a side, you have to choose a side,’ ” Cathy remembered him saying. And Barack repeated it: “You have to choose.” More than a decade later, Barack again gave voice to the sentiment he had expressed to Cathy. “For persons of mixed race to spend a lot of time insisting on their mixed race status touches on a fear” that a darker complexion is innately inferior to a lighter one, and too many nonwhite people are “color-struck…. There’s a history among African Americans … that somehow if you’re whitened a little bit that somehow makes you better, and that’s always been a distasteful notion to me,” perhaps ever since seeing that magazine story one day in Jakarta. “To me, defining myself as African American already acknowledges my hybrid status,” and “I don’t have to go around advertising that I’m of mixed race to acknowledge those aspects of myself that are European … they’re already self-apparent, and they’re in the definition of me being a black American.” Any other mind-set intimated racism. “I’m suspicious of … attitudes that would deny our blackness.” Fred Hess knew well ahead of time that September 1987 would witness a train wreck of historic proportions for Chicago Public Schools. The board of education needed to negotiate new contracts with multiple unions, most important the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), and in midsummer, Hess had told the board that it could afford to offer a pay increase of 3.5 percent to teachers. Instead, the board announced a three-day reduction in the upcoming school year, thereby cutting teachers’ pay by 1.7 percent. The CTU demanded a 10 percent salary increase, and Superintendent Manford Byrd asserted that CPS could afford no raise at all. Hess labeled that claim “a bunch of bull,” and on September 4, four days before schools were to open, more than 90 percent of CTU members voted to strike. The strike began on September 8, with Hess warning the Sun-Times that “it’s going to be a long strike because it looks like it has turned into a question of principle,” especially for Byrd. In a subsequent op-ed in the Tribune, Hess denounced “an administration that insists on adding central office administrators while cutting other employees’ salaries.” More than 430,000 students were out of school, and on September 11 a large group of parents and students from sixteen community groups picketed CPS headquarters, with the group’s spokesman, Sokoni Karanja, telling the news media that “our children are victims of a school system that is failing to educate them.” Karanja was a forty-seven-year-old African American native of Topeka, Kansas, who had earned a Ph.D. from Brandeis University in 1971 before moving to Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood, joining Trinity UCC, and founding a family-aid organization he christened the Centers for New Horizons. Nine months earlier, Karanja had become the Woods Fund’s first black board member, but this September 11 was significant because it illuminated the deepest social and political chasm in black Chicago: African American families with children in heavily minority public schools were fighting against a system made up of 41.6 percent black administrators and 47 percent black teachers. Those numbers explained why Harold Washington had been so ambivalent four months earlier when he seemingly embraced school reform. The city’s public schools provided middle-class salaries and middle-class status to thousands of black Chicago families, while at the same time they were shortchanging tens of thousands of black students. The human toll was staggering: more than 40 percent of African American men in Chicago in their early twenties and 35 percent of young African American women were unemployed, many of them lacking basic job skills because the CPS had not offered them real schooling. “Our education system is in shambles,” Rob Mier, Washington’s economic development commissioner, publicly acknowledged. “We’re producing a legion of functional illiterates.” Some critics described “a vicious circle of incompetence,” with CPS hiring teachers who had graduated from weak nearby state universities, which enrolled mainly ill-prepared graduates of Chicago high schools. As Fred Hess kept emphasizing, the abysmal state of public education in Chicago was the result not of a lack of resources, but instead of their dramatic misallocation: during the 1980s, “the number of central office administrators rose by 29 percent while the number of staff members in the schools rose by 2 percent.” By 1987, CPS’s central bureaucracy had reached an astonishing thirteen thousand employees. On Thursday, September 17, two hundred angry parents picketed outside Harold Washington’s Hyde Park apartment building while others targeted the homes of Governor Jim Thompson, new board of education president Frank Gardner, and CTU president Jacqueline Vaughn. The next morning more than a thousand parents and children picketed outside CPS headquarters, but as the strike moved into its third week, neither the board nor the union were showing any signs of compromise. Superintendent Manford Byrd, furious at Fred Hess’s disparagement of CPS’s central administration, wrote his own op-ed for the Tribune, claiming that the system’s fundamental problem was “the extraordinary special needs of most Chicago public school students.” That remarkable assertion—a school superintendent labeling the majority of his system’s children as “special needs” students—laid bare the deep class divide within black Chicago between middle-class professionals and “those people.” As Hess later explained, again echoing John McKnight’s analysis, Byrd’s explicit articulation of a “deficit model of ‘at-risk’ ” children revealed the attitudes of administrators “whose jobs depend on the existence of a pool of ‘at-risk’ students as clients.” Unable to see that students might bring strengths to school, CPS bureaucrats could not imagine that Chicago’s schools, “rather than the students themselves, might be to blame for students’ lack of success,” Hess explained. Only by reallocating power from CPS headquarters to local schools so as to “reemphasize local communities rather than large, hierarchical bureaucracies” could meaningful educational improvement be attained. While most parents and community groups were angry with the CTU as well as the board, UNO simply backed the teachers’ demands. As the strike entered its third week, the parents’ groups, with support from Anne Hallett at Wieboldt and input from Al Raby, came together as the People’s Coalition for Educational Reform (PCER). On Thursday, October 1, in what the Tribune called a “dramatic confrontation,” a predominantly black group of PCER representatives, many of whom were close allies of Harold Washington, told both the board and the CTU that a 3 percent raise must be agreed upon to end the strike. First the board, overruling Byrd, and then a reluctant CTU, bowed to the coalition’s demand, and on Saturday morning it was announced that schools would reopen on Monday. Nineteen days of classroom time had been lost in “the longest public employee strike in Illinois history.” On Sunday, Harold Washington summoned Casey Banas, the Tribune’s education reporter, to his Hyde Park home. The mayor wanted everyone to know he understood the significance of the parents’ protests. “Never have I seen such tremendous anger and never have I seen a stronger commitment on the part of people” to make Chicago a better city. But Washington also did not want to alienate the black educators Manford Byrd represented. “There’s no discipline in many homes. There’s no stimulus in many homes. And even though the educational structure is a poor substitute to supply what the family is not supplying, it must be done,” the mayor declared. He said he would personally lead a new, far more inclusive iteration of his Education Summit to reform Chicago’s public schools. It would begin the next Sunday at the University of Illinois’s Chicago Circle campus (UICC). “We’re going to have a massive forum,” Washington promised. Obama and DCP had remained entirely on the sidelines throughout the protests against the shutdown. On the Monday of the strike’s final week, and after three months of trying, Barack finally had an appointment with Harold Washington’s top policy adviser, Hal Baron, to pitch his Career Education Network plan to the mayor. It was entirely thanks to John McKnight that Baron consented to see Obama, despite education aide and Roseland native Joe Washington’s negative attitude. “I did it purely as a favor to John McKnight,” Baron recalled. “John was just so high on him…. I think John wanted me to get him a meeting with the mayor, but he pestered me and I finally did a meeting with him myself.” Joe Washington joined Baron in Hal’s City Hall office, but Barack’s presentation was anything but persuasive. Baron remembers it as “cocky standard Alinsky bullshit” and “very glib.” He also recalls Obama saying, “ ‘We’ve got Roseland organized.’ ” After Barack left empty-handed, Joe Washington told Baron what he thought: “That guy doesn’t know shit about Roseland.” Far more fruitful for Obama was his relationship with John McKnight. Barack’s reactions to now two years of immersion in the macho, conflict-seeking world of Alinskyite organizing—including his first year with Jerry Kellman, dozens of hours with Greg Galluzzo, and his warm, almost brotherly relationship with fifteen-years-older Mike Kruglik—had drawn him toward McKnight’s alternative vision of human communities. At least twice Barack drove up to McKnight’s second home in Spring Green, Wisconsin, west of Madison, for weekend-long discussions. He was the only young organizer other than Bob Moriarty with whom McKnight had developed a truly personal relationship, and one weekend Barack brought Sheila along with him. Jerry, Greg, Johnnie, Mary Bernstein, Bruce Orenstein, and Linda Randle would all remember meeting Sheila a time or two, usually by chance in Hyde Park or at her and Barack’s apartment on South Harper. “She’s a cutie,” Bruce remembered, but virtually never did Barack seek for anyone in his workday world to meet or know the woman with whom he lived. Mike Kruglik never laid eyes on her. But one Friday Barack drove north with Sheila, and McKnight remembered Barack calling him from the Penguin, a working-class bar in nearby Sauk City, to say that his shabby Honda had broken down. John drove in to pick them up, and Barack introduced him to Sheila, whom McKnight thought was “absolutely stunning.” The regulars at the Penguin “must have been pretty surprised when that couple walked in,” McKnight suggested. That weekend, like others, was spent mostly “talking about ideas,” McKnight recounted. Barack had a “set of things he was concerned about that he didn’t think he could talk with Kellman or Greg about that was outside the true faith.” McKnight, as a longtime Gamaliel board member, knew how “absolutely rigid” Greg was about the Alinsky model’s view that the way to make people “feel powerful was their anger,” instead of feeling “powerful because of their contributions.” Barack was deeply averse to anger and confrontation, and therein lay his difficulty with the attitude that Alinsky organizing sought to inculcate in its young initiates. McKnight remembered these discussions were “mostly my … responding to him about questions he had,” with McKnight talking about how his asset orientation differed from the “really true faith people” like Greg. McKnight had just written a powerful new paper, “The Future of Low-Income Neighborhoods and the People Who Reside There,” addressing what he termed “client neighborhoods.” Anyone who had spent time in Altgeld Gardens would have appreciated McKnight’s analysis. Such areas are “places of residence for people who are not a part of the productive process” and “have no hopeful future.” What was needed was “a new vision of neighborhood that focuses every available resource upon production.” In a sentence that reached directly back to the quintessential lesson of the 1960s’ southern freedom movement, McKnight insisted that for a group like DCP, “it is the identification of leadership capacities in every citizen that is the basis for effective community organization.” As McKnight and Obama continued to talk throughout 1987, what became “very clear to me was that I was talking to a young man who had not bought the true faith,” McKnight remembered, one who had come to realize that Alinskyism “is ultimately parochial” and offered no prospects whatsoever for attaining large-scale social change. As the best historian of Chicago racism, Beryl Satter, would incisively note, Alinskyism’s “insistence on fighting only for winnable ends guaranteed that” community organizing “would never truly confront the powerful forces devastating racially changing and black neighborhoods.” McKnight’s long-term impact on Obama would be profound, irrespective of how much Barack later remembered of their conversations or how few commentators were knowledgeable enough to hear the readily detectable echos. “If you want to see an intellectual influence on Obama’s thinking, it’s John McKnight,” citizenship scholar Harry Boyte told one Washington audience two decades later. “A lot of things started in part through John McKnight,” observed Harvey Lyon, a Gamaliel board colleague whose political roots also reached back to the 1960s. Stanley Hallett, an influential urban development pioneer, a onetime theology school classmate of Martin Luther King Jr., and the husband of Wieboldt’s Anne Hallett, was also deeply influenced by McKnight. For Hallett, directing public funds to service poor people’s professionally identified needs is “money spent to maintain people in a condition of dependency,” Hallett told one interviewer. Progressive public officials needed to stop “looking at people in terms of their problems instead of their capabilities.” The People’s Coalition for Educational Reform issued its demands in advance of the mayor’s Sunday, October 11, summit. Calling for local school-based management, greater parental involvement in schools, a requirement that 80 percent of students perform at or above grade-level standards, and deep cuts in CPS’s huge central bureaucracy, PCER made clear its student-centered focus: “We do not want cuts to affect anyone providing direct service to students.” On Sunday, almost a thousand people packed UICC’s Pavilion as the mayor slowly made his way through the crowd. The Tribune described the almost four-hour program as having a “town-meeting atmosphere,” and called it “the most remarkable gathering to focus on the Chicago public schools in at least 25 years.” Washington proclaimed that “a thorough and complete overhaul of the system is necessary,” promised to appoint a fifty-member parent/community advisory council within two weeks, and pledged to present a unified reform plan within four months. Washington soon convened the first meeting of his Parent Community Council, promising it would begin holding neighborhood forums before the end of November. The city’s most influential biracial coalition of business leaders, Chicago United, also shared its own school reform plan with the Tribune. Angry at Manford Byrd for his arrogance and disinterest in meaningful change, Chicago United had adopted the belief of Fred Hess and Don Moore that the best path toward improved student performance was through parental and community control of local schools. Patrick J. Keleher Jr., Chicago United’s public policy director, said, “we think the leadership could be found” and that organizations such as UNO could recruit and train interested parents. At the same time, Barack’s DCP work remained often frustrating. Some Saturday mornings he met with the Congregation Involvement Committee at Rev. Rick Williams’s biracial Pullman Christian Reformed Church, while he and Johnnie Owens also met with two Chicago State University (CSU) professors who had just started a Neighborhood Assistance Center. The only result of that was Barack being invited to join a CSU-sponsored panel at a mid-October conference on “Developing Illinois’ Economy.” One of his fellow panelists, CSU’s Mark Bouman, addressed “the spectacular fall of big steel,” and another speaker was Chicago Tribune business editor Richard Longworth, who had written so forcefully about Frank Lumpkin’s efforts on behalf of Wisconsin Steel’s former workers. Whatever Barack contributed to the session was unmemorable, for Longworth, looking two decades later at a photograph of himself and Obama sitting side by side, had no recollection of the event whatsoever. In Roseland, significant economic development news came from the low-profile Chicago Roseland Coalition for Community Control (CRCCC), a twelve-year-old organization that had successfully followed through on the interdenominational protests against Beverly Bank that Alonzo Pruitt and Al Sampson had mounted seven months earlier. When the bank announced plans to open a new branch in suburban Oak Lawn, the little-known Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) of 1977 allowed CRCCC to petition the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission (FDIC) to block that expansion. Three years earlier Beverly Bank had stopped making home mortgage loans, leaving it vulnerable to FDIC enforcement of the CRA’s community service requirements that proscribed disinvestment in older neighborhoods. Advising and guiding CRCCC’s strategy was the similarly low-profile Woodstock Institute, a nonprofit fair-lending organization created in 1973 by five founders, three of whom were John McKnight, Al Raby, and Stan Hallett. Woodstock vice president Josh Hoyt, an organizer who previously had worked under Greg Galluzzo and Mary Gonzales at UNO’s Back of the Yards and Pilsen affiliates, brought the Beverly situation to the attention of U.S. Senate Banking Committee chairman William Proxmire’s staff, and Proxmire wrote to FDIC chairman William Seidman. Soon Beverly Bank was in negotiations with CRCCC president Willie Lomax, and the national American Banker publicized the tussle. By mid-September Beverly had agreed to commit $20 million worth of loans to low-income Far South Side neighborhoods over the next four years and to open central Roseland’s first ATM. “We made use of some tools of the law to get the bank here,” the courageous Lomax told the weekly Chicago Reader’s excellent political reporter Ben Joravsky. “We had to play hardball.” The “tools of the law” were increasingly on Barack’s mind by October 1987. Going to law school had been a possibility for years, ever since his graduation from Columbia. His grandmother more than once had spoken of a career in law and then a judgeship, and Barack had never seen his work as a community organizer as something long term. He had mentioned going to law school in passing to several people in recent years—IAF’s Arnie Graf being one—and early in 1987 Barack had heard a National Public Radio interview with Supreme Court justice William J. Brennan Jr. Brennan told NPR’s Nina Totenberg that the guarantees in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights are “there to protect all of us” and to “protect the minority from being overwhelmed by the majority.” Barack would later recall what he termed “the wisdom and conviction” of Brennan’s words. Barack’s embrace of his “destiny,” as he described it to Sheila, had quickened his thinking for the last six months. Kellman’s move to Gary had left DCP entirely in Barack’s hands until he had been able to hire Johnnie Owens, but once Johnnie was on board, Barack’s references to law school—to Sheila, to his close friend Asif Agha, to Asif’s friend Doug Glick on their long drives up to Madison and back—became far more frequent. Early that fall Bobby Titcomb, Barack’s closest Hawaii friend, passed through Chicago, and he remembers Barack talking then about wanting to get a law degree. Asif left Chicago in early November for six months in Nepal, and one October evening, not long before he left, he went to Barack and Sheila’s apartment on South Harper. “We used to cook dinner for each other a lot,” said Asif, and that evening Barack was out on one of his several-days-a-week runs along Hyde Park’s lakeshore. “I was sitting with Sheila in the kitchen, and he walked in all sweaty,” wearing shorts, and “I remember him saying something about his law school essay, and that he had been mulling it over for many days, maybe weeks.” Mary Bernstein remembered Barack mentioning it to her as well. He had cited Harvard in particular to Asif—“his dad went to Harvard,” Asif remembered, “so he had some interest in Harvard” and “that was his first choice.” Asif had not heard what Barack had told Sheila about a “destiny,” but after two years of weekly conversations, he knew Barack “was an ambitious person.” Several weeks earlier, Jerry Kellman told Obama about a conference titled “The Disadvantaged Among the Disadvantaged: Responsibility of the Black Churches to the Underclass.” It would be held in late October at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Barack agreed they should go. The weekend of “study, reflection, and worship,” as the divinity school’s dean termed it, for the two hundred attendees began on Friday evening with a sermon by Samuel D. Proctor, pastor of New York’s Abyssinian Baptist Church and one of the most famous living black preachers. Proctor’s sermon “chilled us,” one listener recounted, with its description of “the ordinary terrors of normal life in Harlem.” Saturday morning featured a powerful and provocative lecture by Philadelphia congressman and clergyman William H. Gray. “Will we have a two-tiered society of the haves and the have-nots … or will we have a society … that allows people to move from the underclass on up?” Gray asked. For black Americans, “education is an absolute essential,” as the record was clear: “no education, no advancement,” and “blacks with no education have very little hope” of bettering their lives. Gray did not shy from naming other ills. “The leading cause of death among young black males is black-on-black crime. That’s us. Superfly selling drugs and coke in our community is not someone else. It’s us. Those who are mugging us, raping us, and robbing us are not coming from somewhere outside. It’s us. The teenage pregnancy problem is not the white man’s problem, it’s our problem…. You cannot ever escape poverty with children having children.” Two sets of four concurrent workshops bracketed a lunchtime lecture by sociologist William Julius Wilson. After the workshops ended, Jerry and Barack took a walk around the Harvard campus. “We didn’t spend a lot of time with other people at the conference,” Kellman recalled, “just with each other.” During their stroll, Barack told him that he was applying to law schools. Kellman remembers Barack saying, “ ‘I owe it to you to let you know as soon as I can,’ ” and Kellman recalls being “very surprised.” Kellman also remembers Barack saying he did not think that community organizing was an effective means for attaining large-scale change or a practical method for influencing elected officials who potentially could. Years later Obama described his thoughts similarly, saying that “many of the problems the communities were facing were not really local,” and that he needed a better understanding of how America’s economy worked “and how the legal structure shaped that economy.” He also “wanted to find out how the private sector works, how it thinks.” By “working at such a local level” he had learned that problems like joblessness and bad public schools were “citywide issues, statewide issues, national issues” and he wanted to “potentially have more power to shape the decisions that were affecting those issues.” In a subsequent interview he would specifically cite decisions that “were being made downtown in City Hall or … at the state level.” He had been able to get “outside of myself by becoming a community organizer,” but the experience also had taught him that “community organizing was too localized and too small” to offer significant promise to those it sought to empower. Saturday night’s dinner speaker was Children’s Defense Fund president Marian Wright Edelman, who one listener said presented a “terrifying analysis” and emphasized the need for “an ethic of achievement and self-esteem in poor and middle-class black children.” Sunday morning the symposium concluded with a sermon by Harvard professor and pastor Peter J. Gomes, who worried that after two days of “some pretty depressing statistics, some very grim predictions, some very sobering analyses” the discussion had become “so intimidating, so daunting as to lead to paralysis rather than action. With more conferences like this, one will be terrified of thinking about any form of response.” But Gomes believed the weekend’s clear message was that “money, programs, and advocacy alone will not solve the problems of the underclass.” Instead, a consensus had identified “despair as the root and fundamental disease: despair, the loss of hope, the loss of any sense of purpose, or worth, or direction, or place,” an analysis all too true to someone familiar not only with Altgeld Gardens but also Chicago’s Far South Side high schools. Back in Chicago on Monday, Barack wrote a congratulatory postcard to Phil Boerner, who had announced his upcoming marriage to his longtime girlfriend Karen McCraw. “Life in Chicago is pretty good,” Barack wrote. “I remain the director of a community organization here, and I’m now considering going to law school. Makes for a busy life: not as much time to read and write as there used to be. Seeing a good woman, a doctoral student at Univ. of Chicago.” The next weekend was the beginning of Gamaliel’s third weeklong training at suburban Techny Towers, with about sixty trainees joining the network’s usual roster of trainers: Greg, Mary, Peter Martinez, Mike Kruglik, Phil Mullins, Danny Solis, and Barack. David Kindler now worked under Mike at SSAC in Cook County’s south suburbs, and Kindler brought his Quad Cities friend Kevin Jokisch to the early November training. “Who you brought to training was a reflection of your ability as an organizer,” Kindler explained, and Jokisch already had hands-on experience. “Barack was always a great trainer,” Danny Solis remembered. “He had a presence.” After sitting in on two of Obama’s sessions, Jokisch agreed. “Barack was totally in control without appearing to be in control…. His sessions flowed, were all lively, and engaged participants. He drew people out, had them tell their stories in the context of the session he was leading. His style was different than many of the other trainers. Most of the trainers were aggressive, in-your-face types.” In contrast, “Barack and Mary Gonzales had a very similar way of moving, speaking, drawing people out, utilizing humor, and probably most importantly being trusted by those in the room.” Most nights some of the trainers adjourned to an Italian restaurant and bar just down the road. “Obama showed up twice to have beers with us. The after-hours sessions were very lively,” Jokisch recalled. “Most of the debates were around politics and politicians,” with Barack jumping in. Phil Mullins remembers how Barack “saw the limitations of just pure community organization” and asked, “How do you get at these bigger issues?” Given Gamaliel’s IAF worldview, that meant Barack “was kind of out there on his own,” and he was “constantly asking himself what he actually thinks about something,” another colleague recalled. Phil, like Kindler, also knew that among all the organizers, Barack’s real relationship was with Kruglik. “That’s the tighter person-to-person relationship” for Obama, more so than Jerry or even Greg, Mullins recounted. It was “more personal,” because as everyone could see, “Kruglik’s a warmer personality.” Given his Princeton undergraduate education, plus his graduate school history background, Kruglik’s intellectual depth and acumen were unique among the Gamaliel network. He also possessed an uncommonly superb memory. By November 1987, Mike and Barack had known each other well for more than two years, and with Mike Barack could be spontaneous and frank to a degree he rarely was with other organizing colleagues. Even a quarter century later, Mike remembered some of what Barack said to him that week. Barack’s time in Roseland had placed him “in the armpit of the region, as far away from the center of power as you can get,” and he saw a prestigious law degree as the first step on the road to true power. Mike disagreed, telling Barack not to leave organizing and instead to commit himself to building a citywide network of organizations broader than UNO’s set of community groups, a network so sweeping that it would represent the fulfillment of what King and Al Raby had hoped the 1966 Chicago Freedom Movement would become. Barack demurred. A top law school would give him entrée to the corridors of power. “I can learn from these people what they know about power,” and a legal education would allow him to understand “financial strategies and banks and how money flows and how power flows. Then I can come back to Chicago and use that knowledge to build power for ordinary people.” But Barack was imagining more than just building a powerful network of community groups, Mike recalled. “He said to me, ‘I’m going to become mayor of Chicago. I’m thinking I should run for mayor of Chicago.’ ” Barack believed that Chicago’s mayor was the most powerful of any U.S. city’s, one who with widespread grassroots support could begin the rebirth of neighborhoods like Roseland. “ ‘At the end of the day, the question is, How do we lift people out of poverty? How do we change the lives of poor people, in the most profound manner?’ That’s what he was interested in,” Kruglik recounted. And by November 1987, Barack had a specific political template in mind. “Harold was the inspiration,” Mike recalls. “Obama saw himself in a very specific way as following in the footsteps of Harold Washington … following the path to power of Harold Washington.” Ever since the mayor’s appearance at the opening of the Roseland jobs center, Barack’s attempts to win direct access to Washington had foundered. “It’s almost like he was saying to himself … ‘I’m limited by the power of Harold Washington the mayor. Therefore the answer is, I’ll be Harold Washington.’ That’s what happened,” Kruglick explains. “The Harold path was to become a lawyer, become a state legislator, become a congressman, then become mayor. That’s the Harold path.” Barack was “fascinated with Washington,” Mike believed, and “replicating Washington step by step” was his game plan. “That was in his mind. He talked about that.” Barack “was constantly thinking about his path to significance and power,” and “Harold Washington inspired him to think about becoming a politician.” The next Thursday was the launch of what Barack and DCP were now calling the Career Education Network’s “Partnership for Educational Progress,” a label borrowed at least in part from Chicago United’s blueprint for improving the employment skills of public high school graduates. Ever since DCP’s May decision to make education and particularly high school anti-dropout efforts a priority, Barack, Johnnie, and top DCP education volunteers like Aletha Strong Gibson, Ann West, and Carolyn Wortham had been in contact with Far South Side high school principals and guidance counselors and with officials at both Olive-Harvey College and Chicago State University. Thanks to Al Raby, who had just left his city human relations post so he could work for school reform at a newly founded consultancy called the Haymarket Group, Barack had recently met reform proponents Patrick Keleher, of Chicago United, and Sokoni Karanja. In a fall proposal Obama would submit to multiple funders, he wrote that “the condition of the secondary school system called for a wider and more intensive campaign than we originally envisioned.” But beyond the initial $25,000 that Emil Jones had obtained from the state board of education, CEN’s only other support would be an additional $25,000 that the Woods Fund would soon officially announce. Ever since early summer, Obama had met ambivalence among DCP’s congregations about forcefully targeting the sorry state of Chicago’s public schools. He later acknowledged that “every one of our churches was filled with teachers, principals, and district superintendents,” or, as UNO’s Phil Mullins more pungently yet properly put it, “if you removed every education bureaucrat from Reverend Wright’s church, it would go under.” Barack spent much of the last months of 1987 trying to expand DCP’s base by approaching the pastors of largely Protestant, and mainly Baptist, Greater Roseland churches. He realized that these congregations “have had no direct involvement in the issues surrounding the public school system,” and DCP wanted to enlighten them about “the need for broader reform in the school system.” Jerry Kellman knew that Mary Bernstein’s father, a senior Teamsters official, was a close colleague of Robert Healey, a former Chicago Teachers Union president who was now head of both the Chicago Federation of Labor and the Illinois Federation of Teachers. Mary arranged for Obama to meet with Healey, but Healey had no interest in aiding a movement that would empower parents. Roseland’s five high schools were in sorry shape. One study revealed, “High school students in Roseland are testing more than ten percent below the city-wide average,” and that average was more than 30 percent below grade-level norms. The dropout rates at the two weakest schools, Harlan and Corliss, were rapidly increasing. Corliss’s principal published an essay in the Journal of Negro Education describing her efforts to combat “gang activity and vandalism,” “low teacher morale,” “disrespectful attitude and behavior of students,” and “student apathy and high failure rate” at her school. Julian, named after the pioneering black chemist Percy Julian, was considered to be the best of the five, but the principal there, Edward H. Oliver, still had a serious problem with ganglike female “social clubs.” A crowd of three hundred showed up for CEN’s November 17 kickoff rally at Tyrone Partee’s Reformation Lutheran Church. The Defender covered the event, where DCP announced it would begin offering tutorial and counseling services at both Holy Rosary and Reformation in early 1988 to students referred by Carver, Fenger, and Julian high schools. Olive-Harvey College president Homer Franklin as well as Chicago State University vice president Johnny Hill pledged their institutions’ assistance, and Chicago United policy director Patrick Keleher said that his organization would arrange for employment internships. Barack was also keeping up with the city’s landfill crisis. When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a report attributing the South Side’s poor air quality to highway traffic and wood-burning stoves without mentioning landfills, the Tribune said that UNO’s Mary Ellen Montes “laughed when told of the EPA’s findings. ‘That’s crazy. Wood-burning stoves? Are there any left?’ ” Then the Sun-Times revealed that the Paxton Landfill had been operating without the necessary permits since 1983. The newspapers had a field day at the Washington administration’s expense, but mayoral aide Howard Stanback remained focused on the O’Brien Locks issue. On November 16 South Chicago Savings Bank president Jim Fitch convened an initial meeting of all interested parties, ranging from South Deering’s Foster Milhouse to Bruce Orenstein and Mary Ellen Montes from UNO and hard-core landfill opponents Marian Byrnes and Hazel Johnson, who did not like anything they heard. Four days later Lake Calumet environmentalist James Landing distributed a letter warning that the Washington administration “is making prodigious attempts” to win over opponents of a new O’Brien Locks landfill. On Wednesday morning November 25, the day before Thanksgiving, a Chicago Tribune headline announced “948 School Jobs Axed for Teachers’ Raises.” In order to meet the pay raises in CPS’s new union contracts, 167 elementary school teachers had been terminated. Then, at 11:01 that morning, Harold Washington collapsed with a heart attack in his City Hall office. The sixty-five-year-old mayor was seriously overweight, and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. An official announcement was delayed for more than two hours, but word that Washington had died spread rapidly throughout the city, with tearful crowds gathering outside City Hall. “Mayor’s Death Stuns City” read one headline the next day. Black Chicago’s loss was especially painful and heartfelt. Seven months earlier, when Washington was reelected, the Tribune editorialized that “he has been a symbol more than a leader,” but he was also the greatest “symbol of black empowerment” the city had ever seen. Only with his April 1986 erasure of Ed Vrdolyak’s city council majority had Washington truly become Chicago’s mayor, and as one Tribune story poignantly declared, “Washington’s legacy is not what he did, but what he was on the verge of doing.” The next morning the Tribune lauded Washington as “a symbol of success and dreams realized for people who felt they had little reason to dream, let alone achieve,” while again noting that “his tangible record of accomplishments is a short list.” Economic development commissioner Rob Mier would write that “many of his goals and plans remained unfulfilled or barely started.” Mier also recognized that Chicago’s loss was greater because Washington had “died at the peak of his power.” Tribune reporter John Kass highlighted how Washington had been “an incredibly charismatic leader,” but one of Washington’s most fervent early backers identified the mayor’s greatest mistake. “He took the power to himself, almost like Mayor Daley” in earlier decades, “and the political maturity of black politics stopped while he increased his power.” White 49th Ward reform alderman David Orr, who became interim mayor upon Washington’s death, had articulated the underlying problem months earlier: “There’s a large group of black aldermen … who don’t support reform but who have to vote with the mayor because he’s so popular in their wards.” By tolerating rather than purging those black aldermen who professed to support him while nonetheless remaining fully loyal to the Democratic party machine, Washington had advanced “his own political self-interest at the expense of institutionalizing his reform movement,” wrote historian Bill Grimshaw, the husband of Washington’s top political aide, Jacky Grimshaw. The enormity of Washington’s failure became clear within the first hours after his death, as his city council majority sundered into two angrily hostile camps. Washington’s true supporters rallied behind the mayor’s council leader, 4th Ward alderman Tim Evans, with whom Barack and DCP’s Altgeld asbestos protesters had met eighteen months earlier. Washington’s opponents eagerly reached out to the black machine aldermen, who now controlled the balance of power in a political world where they no longer had to bow to a singularly charismatic leader. Washington’s political base “unraveled immediately after he was pronounced dead,” John Kass wrote, and Rob Mier also rued “the immediate collapse of his political coalition.” Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the two factions warred publicly as Washington’s body lay in state for a fifty-six-hour around-the-clock wake in the lobby of City Hall. Monday night at the UICC Pavilion where Washington had hosted his Education Summit just seven weeks earlier, his official memorial service turned into a political rally for Evans. Yet the only votes that would count were those of the fifty city council members, and by Tuesday morning, there was little question that 6th Ward black machine alderman Eugene Sawyer would become Chicago’s next mayor thanks to Washington’s hard-core opponents plus at least five black aldermen who would support Sawyer over Evans. As Tuesday night’s council meeting convened, a crowd of thousands stood outside City Hall, chanting “No deals” and “We want Evans.” Clownish behavior marred the council’s proceedings as protesters mocked black Sawyer allies like 9th Ward alderman Robert Shaw, and Sawyer was not formally elected as Harold Washington’s successor and sworn into office until 4:00 A.M. Wednesday. In skin color Gene Sawyer was just as black as Harold Washington, but as the angry crowd well knew, Chicago now had a completely different mayor than the one it had just buried. When Sawyer was asked by a historian some months later about Washington nemesis Ed Vrdolyak, his answer highlighted the chasm: “He’s a fun guy!” “I loved Harold Washington,” Barack blurted out years later when asked what he had thought of the mayor. He once wrongly but perhaps wishfully stated that in 1985 “I came because of Harold Washington,” and at another time, he mused that “part of the reason, I think, I had been attracted to Chicago was reading about Harold Washington.” There was no doubt that Washington, or more precisely Washington’s treatment at the hands of the Vrdolyak majority during Barack’s first nine months in Chicago, contributed in some degree to Barack’s own embrace of a resolutely black racial identity. “Every single day it was about race. I mean every day it was black folks and white folks going at each other. Every day, in the newspapers, on TV, in meetings. You couldn’t get away from it,” Obama later recounted. “It was impossible for Harold to do anything.” Upon his arrival in Chicago, and throughout all of his Oxy and Columbia years prior to Jesse Jackson’s 1984 presidential run, Barack had been “skeptical of electoral politics as a strategy for social change,” he later acknowledged. “I was pretty skeptical about politics. I always thought that the compromises involved in politics probably didn’t suit me.” Jerry Kellman, Greg Galluzzo, and the Alinsky tradition of organizing certainly did not teach respect or admiration for elected officials. But watching Washington week after week, even if he had never been physically closer than in that nondescript Roseland storefront eight months earlier, had fundamentally changed Barack’s mind. “You just had this sense that his ability to move people and set an agenda was always going to be superior to anything I could organize at a local level,” Obama explained in 2011. In his own telling years later, Obama was in that angry, chanting crowd outside the city council chambers that Tuesday night, witnessing what he called Washington’s “second death.” Yet even at the time he wrote that, Barack understood Washington’s fundamental error, just as Bill Grimshaw had explained it. “Washington was the best of the classic politicians,” Obama told an interviewer. “But he, like all politicians, was primarily interested in maintaining his power and working the levers of power. He was a classic charismatic leader, and when he died, all of that dissipated. This potentially powerful collective spirit that went into supporting him was never translated into clear principles, or into an articulable agenda for community change,” Obama rightly stated in words that would echo painfully two decades later. “All that power dissipated.” Yet in those last weeks of 1987, Washington’s death strengthened Barack’s belief that now was the time to leave DCP for law school. He had “a sense that the city was going to be going through a transition, that the kinds of organizing work that I was doing wasn’t going to be the focal point of people’s attention because there were all these transitions and struggles and tumult that was going on in the African American community,” he recalled in 2001. “So I decided it was a good time for me to pull back” and attend law school. Barack’s long-pondered personal essay was finished, but completing his application required soliciting letters of recommendation as well. Al Raby was a recognizable name to anyone who knew the history of the 1960s, and Michael Baron had given him an A for his senior year paper at Columbia, the most serious piece of coursework Barack had ever tackled. Now working at SONY, Baron readily agreed to write a letter. But Baron’s knowledge of him was now more than four years dated, so Barack also went to see John McKnight, asking him to keep their conversation confidential, especially from Greg and Mary. “Would you write me a letter of reference? You’re the only professor I know.” McKnight immediately said yes, but asked Barack what his plans were. “I want to go into public life. I think I can see what can be done at the neighborhood level, but it’s not enough change for me. I want to see what would happen in public life” and “I think I have to go to law school to do that.” McKnight questioned whether Barack understood how fundamentally different life as an elected official would be from that of an organizer. While the latter was quintessentially an advocate, “my experience is that legislators are compromisers,” McKnight observed, people who synthesize conflicting interests. “You want to go into a world of compromise?” he asked. Barack responded affirmatively, saying, “That’s why I want to go into public life” and to pursue a role quite opposite that of a confrontational Alinsky organizer. “It’s clear to him he’s making a decision that that’s not the way he’s going,” McKnight remembered. “He left for a different mode of seeking change.” With Gene Sawyer uncomfortably ensconced in City Hall, the Parent Community Council’s ten public forums were surrounded by uncertainty. At the first one, Chicago United’s Patrick Keleher reiterated the business community’s demand for dramatic reforms, and at the third Sawyer pledged “my commitment to the Washington reform agenda.” In response, Manford Byrd protested that CPS’s “many needy students” meant that any improvement in schools’ performance would require “major additional funding” for more teachers, counselors, and, of course, “other professionals.” DCP’s Aletha Strong Gibson told one reporter that the reform movement would be undeterred by the mayor’s loss. “Harold Washington did not move the community. The community moved Harold Washington,” she declared. “It is incumbent upon us to keep our voices raised. We have to take back ownership of the schools.” Sawyer also inherited Chicago’s landfill problem, with Howard Stanback seeking to quickly explain the city’s O’Brien Locks strategy to the new mayor. Environmental activist James Landing realized that Washington’s death would not alter the situation, and even he wondered whether the opponents should give up and join Jim Fitch’s effort to agree on what the Southeast Side neighborhoods should demand from WMI. Senator Emil Jones’s special legislative committee concluded its investigation by ruing “the lack of one centralized authority to address all environmental problems” in the area, but also bluntly acknowledging that continuing Chicago’s ban on landfill expansion “is irresponsible unless the city is able to implement a successful citywide waste-disposal plan” through massive recycling. At DCP, Barack and Johnnie were preparing the CEN tutoring program to start in early 1988, in both Roseland and Altgeld, undeterred by the December murder of an eighteen-year-old Gardens youth by five fellow teenagers, all members of the infamous Vice Lords gang. Weeks earlier Barack had asked Sheila to go with him to Honolulu for the Christmas holidays so that his relatives could meet her, the first time Barack had ever introduced a girlfriend to his family. Madelyn had just turned sixty-five, and a year earlier had retired from the Bank of Hawaii. Stanley, almost seventy, was now retired too. Ann Dunham, still struggling to complete her dissertation, told her mentor Alice Dewey how much she was looking forward to meeting Sheila, and Sheila would always remember how exceptionally warm Ann was to her throughout the couple’s visit to Honolulu. Ann was fascinated that Sheila had written her master’s thesis on Claude Lévi-Strauss, and Sheila remembers the two of them “talking about that thesis, my time in Paris, and my work at Chicago.” Ann was “genuinely very interested and warm and inquisitive. She was extremely generous with us and treated Barack with reverence. She really admired him and thought the world of him.” Even though Ann and Sheila liked each other very much, Sheila felt that Ann was not in favor of her and Barack getting married. She wondered if Ann “sensed what we already knew, that we were too isolated and would sophisticate each other.” Sheila was especially struck by how everyone in Hawaii—Gramps, Toot, Maya—called Barack either “Bar” or “Barry.” In Chicago, only Asif used “Barry.” When Sheila called him “Barry for fun one day, just because everyone else was calling him that name,” Obama’s reaction was unforgettable. “He got so angry at me. Irrationally furious, I’d say. He told me that under no circumstances was I ever to use that name with him.” Perhaps Obama had some deep boy-versus-man association to the two names, but Sheila understood that he “was very sensitive about this aspect of his life and wanted me walled off from it—like a lot of other things in his life.” Back in Chicago, the mayor’s Parent Community Council moved toward recommending that each Chicago public school be controlled by a locally elected governing board, but without Harold Washington present to embrace its conclusions, school reformers started arguing over which of several just slightly different proposals should be introduced in the state legislature. DCP participated tangentially, following UNO’s lead, with Danny Solis in charge and Johnnie Owens rather than Barack following developments most closely. In late January Barack wrote to Phil and Karen Boerner to apologize for missing their wedding, and updated them on his plans: “I’ve decided to go back to law school this fall—probably Harvard.” At the end of the month, Barack also wrote to Anne Hallett at Wieboldt to submit DCP’s 1988 grant application, but he gave no indication that he might be leaving DCP anytime soon. He wrote that “DCP has come a long way in the past year,” most notably in hiring Owens, “someone with both the talent and background to become a lead organizer in his own right.” Because of DCP’s “success with the education issue … we have the potential in the coming year to become a truly powerful advocate for change not only in the area, but citywide,” Barack boastfully asserted. “Whether we fulfill that potential will depend on two things: how well we parley the Career Education Network into a vehicle for organizing parents and community, and whether the relationships we have established with the major Black churches in the South Side translate into their making a full commitment” to DCP by contributing financially so that the organization could begin to wean itself from outside funders. “If we succeed, I envision us having 30 new churches involved by the end of 1988.” That was optimistic, because Obama’s ongoing efforts to connect with dozens of black pastors had garnered polite conversations but few enlistments. If CEN was to grow beyond a small pilot program in which DCP housewives tutored dozens of high school students in a trio of church halls, funding was necessary for “significant expansion of the program by the State Legislature.” Barack also still hoped that Olive-Harvey could reallocate resources “to create a comprehensive job training program with specific emphasis on Public Aid recipients and with the outreach and satellite facilities necessary to target the Altgeld Gardens population.” DCP would soon hire a CEN project coordinator, thanks to Emil Jones’s state money and the Woods Fund, and hoped to approach major corporations through Chicago United. Barack’s success at fund-raising had let him raise his own salary to $27,250 and Johnnie’s to $24,000. Ideally Olive-Harvey would foot the bill to house CEN, but expanding the program for the 1988–89 school year depended on state board of education officials and state legislators. Obama believed that “parents and churches” were “the most crucial ingredients” for “a long-term process of educational reform.” Gamaliel and Don Moore’s Designs for Change, now a top player in the citywide school reform movement, could be asked to provide parental training. The city’s community colleges were responsible for vocational and general educational development (GED) training, but their actual track record was even worse than that of Chicago Public Schools. “Only 8 percent of the 19,200 persons enrolled in GED preparation classes in 1980 actually received certificates,” Barack had discovered, and “only 2.5 percent of those enrolled in City College basic education programs end up pursuing additional vocational or higher education.” Instead, just as at CPS, “funds go into central administrative tasks rather than student instruction.” Barack’s church-recruitment efforts continued throughout the winter of 1987–88. One successful visit was to a small church on West 113th Street just across from Fenger High School. Thirty-two-year-old Rev. Alvin Love had arrived at Lilydale First Baptist Church four years earlier, inheriting an “elderly congregation” that was “comfortable sitting and doing nothing.” Love wanted to “get this congregation engaged in their community,” and he was happy when Obama “just walked up to the door and rang the bell” and asked if Love would tell him what he thought Roseland needed. Love, like other pastors before him, asked Barack which church he belonged to. Love warned Barack that his standard response—“I’m working on it”—wasn’t going to be acceptable to all black clergymen. Barack invited Love to a box-lunch gathering of other interested pastors, and he was slowly beginning to expand DCP’s ties to freestanding Protestant congregations. The clergymen with whom Barack was having the most contact, however, were not involved at all in DCP. One was Jeremiah Wright at Trinity United Church of Christ, whom Barack continued to visit on a regular basis. Barack also began speaking with Sokoni Karanja, a longtime Trinity member whom he had met through Al Raby when Karanja emerged as one of the most outspoken African American voices calling for school reform. Barack “was trying to think about ministers and how to organize ministers across the whole city—African American ministers—because he felt like the power that was needed for the community to get its just due was through that,” Sokoni remembered. “He was trying to think about churches and how to organize the churches.” Barack also told Sokoni about his plan to attend law school. “One of the things I notice is that a lot of these politicians get in trouble because they don’t know the law,” Barack commented. Becoming a politician was indeed his goal. “He was talking about becoming mayor of Chicago,” Sokoni—just like Mike Kruglik—remembered. “We had a lot of conversations about it,” and “that’s what he emphasized to me. It sounded like a good idea.” The other church Barack visited frequently was St. Sabina. DCP members like Cathy Askew, Nadyne Griffin, and Rosa Thomas knew Barack “was a big admirer of Father Pfleger,” but Cathy’s fellow St. Catherine’s parishioner, Deacon Tommy West, saw the most of Barack at St. Sabina. One of St. Sabina’s wintertime ministries involved a tangible outreach to the homeless, many of whom lived in the relative warmth of Lower Wacker Drive, the underground level of a downtown Chicago roadway. “We brought clothes and food down there for them,” West explained. “My wife made corn bread” and “minestrone soup.” One evening Barack joined Tommy and Mike Pfleger for the trip downtown. “He was with us underground, feeding the homeless,” West recounted. “Lower Wacker—I remember him going to that with us,” Mike agreed. Tommy also remembered Barack saying he was about to go back to school. He “told me when he went down to Wacker Drive with us and we had the soup and the coats.” Tommy had asked why, and he recalls Barack saying, “I just get tired of getting cut off at the pass” by government officials, and “I need some other stuff. I’ve got to go. This is something I have to do.” But one day in those early months of 1988, Barack went with Mike Pfleger and Tommy West on a different sort of outing. Years later Barack would say that “the single most important thing in terms of establishing” safe neighborhoods “is having a community of parents, men, church leaders who are committed to being present and getting into the community and making sure that the gangbangers aren’t taking over, making sure that there’s zero tolerance for drug dealing.” In 1988 Pfleger shared that sentiment as strongly as anyone could, and he had adopted an interdiction technique that was nonviolent direct action at its most aggressive: walking into a known drug seller’s home in clerical garb, asking if he could use the bathroom, then grabbing whatever narcotics he could and heading for the toilet. Only “a very small group” of men accompanied Mike on such drug raids, and Tommy West—wearing a deacon’s collar—was a regular participant. Pfleger cannot remember Barack going with him on such a sortie, although “he very well may have.” But Tommy West recalls Barack’s involvement with great clarity. “One time he went with us to this drug dealer’s house, and Father Mike grabbed up the guy’s drugs and ran in the washroom—first he asked the guy, could he use the washroom,” and once in there Mike “dropped it and flushed it, and the guy pulls out his pistol. I said, ‘Look, put that up. He’s a priest—you don’t want to hurt him. Use it on me.’ He said, ‘No, he’s the one who did this.’ I said, ‘Don’t touch him. That’s God’s man. You don’t want God to be down on you the rest of your life. Leave him be and try to find you somewhere else.’ He said, ‘I think I will, because I’m ready to kill him.’ So Barack said, ‘Woo.’ ” Mike Pfleger looked calmly at his colleagues. “I’m doing God’s work. God is taking care of me.” “He was around for that one,” Tommy affirmed. “That was the first time I remember him going inside of the drug dealer’s home with us to see what Father Mike did.” Then, with the dealer still holding his gun, Tommy again asked the man to leave: “ ‘then we can get out of here.’ ” The dealer did take his gun and leave, and as the raiding party exited as well, “everybody was kind of shook up,” Tommy West recalls with considerable understatement. Barack had developed significant relationships with Mike Pfleger and Jeremiah Wright, just as he had two years earlier with Bill Stenzel and Tom Kaminski. But at home on South Harper, Sheila Jager never heard a single word about any of them, or about institution-based religious faith. “I don’t think Barack ever attended church once while we were together,” and he “certainly was not religious in the conventional sense,” Sheila reiterated. Barack “never suggested going to church together,” and “I had no awareness of Jeremiah. He certainly never mentioned him to me.” Barack’s closest Hyde Park male friend, Asif Agha, remembers their conversations similarly. “I always assumed he was an atheist like me.” Barack “had no interest in religion” and knew “nothing about Islam.” Asif’s friend Doug Glick, Barack’s companion on all those long summer drives to and from Madison, bluntly concurred. “I do not believe he believes in Jesus Christ.” Asif states the trio’s consensus succinctly: Barack “did not have a religious bone in his body.” In Barack’s daily life with Sheila, “he didn’t tell me a whole lot about” who he was dealing with in his work, Sheila explains, “although he did bring a lot of their ideas home.” Barack “never compartmentalized ideas, which we discussed freely.” At home “we spent a great deal of our time discussing/talking about all sorts of things, which was one of the things I liked so much about him.” And, just like at DCP, Barack “was also a very good listener.” Yet “we lived a very isolated existence,” and even their immediate neighbors at 5429 South Harper barely remember either Barack or Sheila. One longtime older resident had no recollection at all, and custodian Joe Vukojevic, who lived directly across the hall from Barack and Sheila, only remembered being introduced to Barack’s mother Ann during her summer 1987 visit. Barack and Sheila’s immediate upstairs neighbors, John Morillo and Andrea Atkins, thought Joe the janitor was “a very nice guy” but “practically never” saw Sheila or Barack. They would remember the unusual name on the mailbox, and saying hi to Sheila, but Barack was “just another guy doing laundry” in the basement laundry room. On January 31, the Daily Calumet reported that South Chicago Savings Bank president Jim Fitch was privately brokering talks to allow Waste Management to use the O’Brien Locks site as a new landfill in exchange for a $20 million community trust fund. Fitch then called for another gathering of neighborhood representatives at 7:30 P.M. Monday, February 8, at his bank to discuss “the structure of the community trust.” Since the Daily Cal story “events have been evolving rapidly,” Fitch explained, and “conversations with Waste Management have continued.” UNO’s Bruce Orenstein and Mary Ellen Montes had previously attended Fitch’s conclaves, but now they grew concerned. If UNO and the city’s Howard Stanback hoped to have the community fund managed by mayoral allies, they could not allow Fitch to continue driving the conversation with WMI. Bruce and Lena called on Fitch at his bank in advance of the meeting and told him he lacked the authority to have this gathering because he had not been involved in the fight to stop the landfills. Bruce recounts telling him, “We think you’re undermining our agenda, you’re undermining the agenda of the community, the wishes of the community.” Bruce and Lena “really asked him to stop,” but Fitch was no rookie at power politics. He recognized their raw grab for control and brusquely dismissed them. Orenstein next called Barack to ask for DCP’s support in a confrontational move straight out of the Alinsky-style community organizing playbook. Local print and broadcast journalists were notified, a press release was prepared, and late Monday afternoon prior to the scheduled meeting, Barack, Loretta Augustine, and other DCP members drove to UNO’s office on East 91st Street, less than two blocks from Fitch’s South Chicago Savings Bank. “We met there, we practiced,” Bruce remembered. “Barack and I and Mary Ellen and Loretta have devised this thing,” and shortly after 7:30 P.M., Mary Ellen led a column of more than one hundred participants, including some children, out the door and down the street toward the bank’s second-floor conference room. The goal was “to let Fitch know in no uncertain terms he does not represent the will of the community on this issue,” Bruce recounted. “We just wanted to tell him that in front of everybody else who was around the table,” including UNO and DCP’s old friend Bob Klonowski, pastor of Hegewisch’s Lebanon Lutheran Church. Bruce remembered the group very quietly “walking up the stairs and being actually quite nervous,” for “it was quite a confrontational approach to things.” But with Mary Ellen in the lead, the “ambush”—as the Daily Cal’s front-page headline the next day called it—worked to perfection. “Mary Ellen led the charge and we walked in and the camera lights went on,” Bruce recalled. “Barack and Loretta and the TV cameras and the Chicago Tribune” reporter Casey Bukro all followed Lena into the conference room. “Everybody looks up” as Mary Ellen approached Fitch. “Tonight we publicly take the position ‘No deals Jim Fitch, no deals Waste Management,’ ” Lena proclaimed. “We will fight you every step of the way.” As a confrontational leader, “she was fantastic,” Bruce knew. “Then we turned on our heels and walked out.” It was a “very memorable action,” even “a hoot of an action,” and from Bruce’s perspective, Barack had shown no discomfort with these tactics: “I certainly think he enjoyed it.” UNO and DCP’s press release claimed that “We are diametrically opposed to any ‘buyoff’ deal … with Waste Management,” while acknowledging that “communities are due substantial reinvestment.” A simultaneous one by Howard Stanback on behalf of the mayor’s office was deceptively titled “City Reaffirms Landfill Moratorium” and asserted that “Waste Management is misleading the public if they suggest that they are in a position to acquire O’Brien Locks for landfilling.” As Bruce Orenstein told the Daily Calumet, “If Waste Management gets ahold of that property, out the window goes any protection for the community.” The real issue was not the fate of the O’Brien Locks acreage, whose future looked preordained, but who on the Southeast Side would control whatever community trust fund would receive the $20 or $25 million that Waste Management was clearly willing to pay. Only Hegewisch News editor and community activist Vi Czachorski gave readers a clear understanding of what was happening. “Montes wants a landfill at the O’Brien Locks,” directly across the Calumet River from Hegewisch, and in exchange, she gets “a trust that UNO would operate” rather than Jim Fitch and other traditional Vrdolyak loyalists. But UNO’s Alinskyite “ambush” not only infuriated Fitch’s nascent coalition, it also angered the trio of hardcore landfill opponents—Jim Landing, Marian Byrnes, and Hazel Johnson—who had been reconsidering their own position. Within a week, they were picketing outside Chicago’s City Hall, clear evidence that Bruce and Barack’s strategy of blowing up Fitch’s negotiations had torpedoed any prospect of achieving a community-wide consensus. For Barack, all this tussling created a fundamental personal tension. He had made clear to John McKnight that he rejected the confrontational politics of the Alinsky tradition, even though he had just helped lead an action that was so pugnacious it had made even the hard-bitten Orenstein nervous. It unquestionably was the “most confrontive meeting he had ever been involved in,” Bruce acknowledged, and “left to his own devices, I don’t think he would have designed an action like that.” True enough. What then accounted for so stark a contradiction? A weekend or two after the South Chicago ambush, Barack took Sheila to see a movie that had debuted the Friday before the Fitch action: The Unbearable Lightness of Being, an adaptation of Czech writer Milan Kundera’s 1984 novel. Set in Czechoslovakia in the years leading up to the Prague Spring of 1968, the film featured three leading characters: Tomas, a young doctor, his partner Tereza, and his additional lover Sabina. The movie was not necessarily loyal to the spirit of Kundera’s book, and, at almost three hours’ length, it had not been praised in prominent reviews in the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times. The Tribune’s critic wrote that “the film has no vision and no life,” and warned that it “is likely to be incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t read the novel.” Vincent Canby’s Times review was more revealing. Tomas, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, lived a compartmentalized life, with “one part of his mind” analyzing something while another “part that’s outside it criticizes” the first. Tereza, played by Juliette Binoche, “falls profoundly in love with” Tomas “without knowing anything about him.” In turn, “Tomas is drawn against his will into commitment to Tereza,” yet with Sabina, played by Lena Olin, he indulges in “a passion for … sex that excludes serious emotional commitment … while always remaining a little detached.” Tomas “remains committed to Tereza, though still unfaithful.” The film conveyed “an accumulating heaviness” accentuated by its “immense length.” Almost a quarter century later, Sheila Jager described the film as an indelible memory, explaining that it could offer “some insight into our relationship…. Although Barack did not fool around (not that I know of), I remember being powerfully moved by that film when we saw it together because Tomas and Tereza’s relationship seemed to so uncannily mirror the dynamics of our own—Tomas’s ‘neurosis’ like Barack’s ‘calling.’ ” She believed that perhaps was “why I reacted so hard when I saw that film. Because it was mirroring reality in an eerie sort of way, and I somehow understood what was happening even if I was unaware of what was going on. I remember feeling so trapped and suffocated back then, just like poor Tereza and her cheating husband. I’ll never forget that feeling of desperation, and wondering what I was going to do. I remember him telling me how he wished he could take me to the countryside and live with me,” just as Tomas does with Tereza, “but he couldn’t do that, no matter how much he loved me,” because his destiny inescapably must trump love. “I always knew that I couldn’t marry him,” yet in those early months of 1988, Sheila never doubted Barack, in part because something happened between them, something Barack subsequently never spoke about. Barack was also close with the almost thirty-year-old Mary Ellen Montes—Lena—and he told her too about the vision of his future that otherwise he had only shared with Sheila. “He wanted to be the president,” Lena explained. “He used to say that his goal was to be the president of the United States.” Their ambitions were mutual. “By the time I met Barack, I was thinking about politics as well, with aspirations of being the mayor.” Lena told him, “I could see myself being the mayor of the city of Chicago. That’s where I’d want to end it, and his thing was oh no, he wanted to go on to be the president.” While Barack had told Mike Kruglik and Sokoni Karanja that being mayor of Chicago was his ultimate goal, Lena firmly declared, “That’s not what he’s telling me.” Lena understood their similar trajectories. “You start to feel and realize your potential, so as you’re growing in this arena, why wouldn’t you think about those things? … That’s why I thought about the mayor,” and for Barack “it’s because of what he realized as he’s growing in the public arena and realizing his potential.” She knew that getting a law degree was “absolutely” his first step toward electoral politics. Across those months, “our conversations—they were real. They were genuine, sincere conversations about ourselves and what we wanted to do, what we were doing, what we were thinking of.” Lena knew Barack lived with someone. “I hear of her,” Lena explained. “Asian woman.” No, “I never met her…. I remember him saying she was Asian.” What did Barack tell Lena about that relationship? “He gave the impression that they lived together more because of convenience—they both needed a place to stay.” Barack’s diminution of his life with Sheila to Lena was reminiscent of how he had characterized it to Phil Boerner eighteen months earlier: “winter’s fast approaching, and it is nice to have someone to come home to,” given his “mortal fear of Chicago winters.” After years of distancing himself from his mother, Barack’s identification as African American—not international, not hapa, not biracial—was now complete. This transformation had been immensely aided by his exposure to and ease with strong black women like Loretta Augustine, Marlene Dillard, Aletha Strong Gibson, and Yvonne Lloyd, but this success came at a high price, one visible only in the light of the distance, the unknowable distance, that was always impenetrably there. That distance, that lightness, would extend well beyond 1988. Two days after the action against Jim Fitch, a remarkable, substantive victory was announced by attorney Tom Geoghegan: Navistar, the renamed International Harvester, would pay $14.8 million to Frank Lumpkin and twenty-seven hundred other surviving former Wisconsin steelworkers. The largest individual payment would be $17,200, though Frank, with a better-protected pension, would receive only $4,000. No one in Chicago doubted that Frank deserved the most credit for this achievement, and the ex-workers approved the settlement in an overwhelming vote of 583 to 75. But Frank was never someone to pat himself on the back. “It is a victory of sorts,” he told the Daily Cal. “It was the best we could get, and that’s the way everyone who voted for it felt. But we appreciate the feeling that the little guy has won and that giants can fall.” Tribune business editor Richard Longworth wrote a wonderful tribute to Frank, describing him as “an amazing man … who is probably as close to a saint as Chicago has these days.” Tom Geoghegan is “the only other real hero,” a commendation underscored when James B. Moran, the federal judge handling the Wisconsin litigation, publicly praised Tom’s “dedication,” “professionalism,” and “modesty in seeking fees.” Frank also represented the last of a dying breed: at South Works hardly seven hundred men were still working, and Republic LTV was down to 640. Maury Richards would soon be reelected as Local 1033’s president, but even as dedicated a steelworker as Maury was beginning to wonder what his next career would be. By mid-February, UNO, hoping to take the lead in Chicago’s fractured school reform movement, distributed a twenty-nine-page proposal to compete with a much more detailed plan championed by Don Moore’s Designs for Change, Sokoni Karanja, and Al Raby from Haymarket. DCP was listed as an organizational backer of UNO’s plan, but no DCP member was among the twelve names credited with preparing the document. Danny Solis, Peter Martinez, and Lourdes Monteagudo, an elementary school principal now working closely with UNO, were among them, as was an education professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Bill Ayers, who had arrived there six months earlier and met both Danny and Anne Hallett the previous fall. Acknowledging that “good schooling is an expensive proposition,” the UNO proposal called for the hiring of an astonishing 14,563 additional educators for Chicago’s elementary schools, at a cost of $442 million. UNO envisioned an annual CPS budget increase of $584 million, and called for a $481 million increase in state funding to support it. On February 18, the same day that the Sun-Times gave the proposal prominent coverage, UNO and DCP brought busloads of members to a school reform hearing at board of education headquarters, but the overflow crowd intimidated officials and the meeting was adjourned. Soon a third major plan, this one backed by Fred Hess’s Chicago Panel, Gwendolyn LaRoche from the Chicago Urban League, and Patrick Keleher from Chicago United, joined the confusing fray. DCP concentrated on getting its Career Education Network off the ground, with Obama and Owens hiring an African American woman in her early thirties, Cassandra Lowe, who had been working as a college recruiter for nearby St. Xavier University, to oversee it. By early March, afternoon counseling sessions for fifty or so high school students were finally under way at Reformation Lutheran and at Our Lady of the Gardens. Asked about DCP’s 1987–88 change from an employment emphasis to its new concentration on secondary schooling, Owens explained that “the focus shifted to the more fundamental question of preparing people for jobs in a changing society.” By the end of February, Barack had to decide both about law school and about making his long-mulled trip to Kenya before the fall 1988 academic year began. His sister Auma had returned home from Heidelberg and would eagerly host a midsummer visit. Barack later would write that he applied to Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, but he also applied elsewhere, including to Northwestern University’s law school, right in downtown Chicago. Acceptance letters had arrived from both Harvard and Northwestern, but with one huge difference: Harvard’s financial aid package would require him to take out loans of well over $10,000 a year, while Northwestern’s offer, the Ronald E. Kennedy Scholarship, would allow him to attend a top-twenty law school in Chicago for free. Debating his choice of school, Barack asked Jean Rudd and Ken Rolling at the Woods Fund about attorneys from whom he could seek advice. Jean’s husband Lionel Bolin was a descendent of a famous African American family, a 1948 graduate and now a trustee of prestigious Williams College, and a successful broadcast executive who, after serving in the U.S. military, had graduated from low-cost New York Law School. Woods Fund board member George Kelm, a low-key civic activist, had been managing partner of a prominent Chicago law firm, Hopkins and Sutter, before becoming president of the Woods family’s Sahara Enterprises investment firm. Barack “was trying to make a strategic choice about which school,” Jean Rudd recalled, and Jean and Ken remember Barack telling them about Northwestern’s full-scholarship offer. George Kelm was a Northwestern Law School alumnus and a past president of its alumni association, and he strongly advised Barack against attending Harvard. Northwestern was so interested in persuading Barack to accept its Kennedy Scholarship, named after an African American faculty member who had died four years earlier at the age of forty-two, that the admissions office asked the law school’s dean, Robert W. Bennett, to speak with Obama. “The admissions people came to me and they said, ‘We’ve got a fantastic prospect for this scholarship’ ” and “ ‘we want you to try to talk him into taking it,’ ” Bennett recounted. “Barack was brought to my office” and “I tried to talk him into taking this Ronald Kennedy Scholarship.” Bennett was a 1965 cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, and Barack was “the only applicant that the admissions people ever” asked him to help recruit during a full decade as dean. Neither Kelm and Bennett’s efforts nor the full three-year scholarship were sufficient to outweigh Barack’s belief in his destiny. Harold Washington had graduated from Northwestern’s law school, and only once had a Harvard law graduate become president—Rutherford B. Hayes, in 1877. Northwestern law alumni had been major party presidential nominees five times, but William Jennings Bryan was a three-time loser and Adlai Stevenson had lost twice. It would be a costly decision for Barack—a cumulative difference of more than $40,000—but his choice was evidence of how deeply he believed what he so far had shared only with Sheila and Lena. The only person in Barack’s workday world, other than Lena, to whom he spoke about leaving was Johnnie Owens, whom he had recruited to DCP with at least half an eye toward this decision. Johnnie remembered the moment clearly. “I didn’t have a clue until one day he asked me, ‘Are you ready to lead?’ I’m like ‘What do you mean? What are you talking about?’ ‘I’ve been accepted at Harvard Law School,’ ” and he would be leaving DCP to attend its three-year J.D. program. “And I’m like ‘What?’ ” Owens remembered, for there had been no prior indications that Barack was contemplating such a future. “Nothing. Absolutely nothing: about applying, that he was interested, anything like that. And so he began explaining to me how he’d been struggling with the thought of maybe going into the ministry versus law school.” Neither Sheila nor Lena ever heard him talk about the ministry, but as Johnnie remembers it, Barack “said he had ideas and thoughts about going into the ministry and that he had actually talked to Reverend Wright about some of this.” Barack asked Johnnie to succeed him as DCP’s executive director, promising not only to work with the members on the transition, but also to introduce Owens to the trio of women who were DCP’s most important funders: Jean Rudd at Woods, Aurie Pennick at MacArthur, and Anne Hallett at Wieboldt. Owens agreed, but several weeks passed before Barack was ready to tell DCP’s volunteer leaders about his upcoming move. On March 5, ten days before Democratic ward-level and congressional primary elections across Chicagoland, the Chicago Tribune reported that Waste Management had fired two managers at its SCA chemical waste incinerator at 11700 South Stony Island Avenue for repeatedly disconnecting air-monitoring devices designed to measure the facility’s destruction of highly toxic PCBs. WMI insisted that the misconduct “did not threaten health or safety,” but Marian Byrnes, Hazel Johnson, and congressional candidate Mel Reynolds picketed the plant, demanding it be closed. Metropolitan Sanitary District officials pulled back from a plan to dump eighty thousand cubic yards of sewage sludge in a wetlands property five blocks south of SCA. Howard Stanback, Bruce Orenstein, and Barack were working on plans to have Mayor Sawyer attend a postelection March 17 rally at St. Kevin to announce publicly the city’s strategic alliance with UNO and DCP regarding landfills. On Election Day, four African American ward committeemen who were allied with Sawyer were defeated, an unsurprising verdict on the process that had made Sawyer Harold Washington’s successor. Two successful challengers were forty-eight-year-old educator Alice Palmer in the 7th Ward, who defeated organization loyalist William Beavers in a virtual landslide, and young West Side activist Rickey Hendon in the 27th Ward. Another winner, in a South Side state representative contest, was 8th Ward precinct captain Donne Trotter, who a year earlier had turned out such an impressive victory margin for Harold Washington at London Towne Homes. One of the few challenges to a Sawyer loyalist that failed was Salim Al Nurridin’s 9th Ward committeeman contest against Bill Shaw, whose twin brother Bob, the 9th Ward alderman, bizarrely alleged that Salim operated a harem full of welfare recipients. Only slightly more uplifting had been Emil Jones and Mel Reynolds’s unsuccessful challenges to incumbent 2nd District congressman Gus Savage. When the Tribune reported that the thirty-six-year-old Reynolds had voted only twice since he turned twenty-one, Reynolds claimed that plotters had altered his voting records. Tribune political reporter R. Bruce Dold commended Reynolds for running “a surprisingly effective first-time campaign” and praised him as “a walking role model for black achievement.” But when the votes were tallied, Reynolds received only 14 percent, Jones 24 percent, and Savage won renomination with just 53 percent. Stanback, Orenstein, and Obama carefully scripted the St. Kevin evening rally where Gene Sawyer would eagerly agree to UNO and DCP’s demand for a new mayoral task force to study the city’s landfill options. Unlike Jim Fitch’s committee, this new group would be heavily stacked with UNO and DCP loyalists. Howard, Bruce, and Barack jointly drafted Sawyer’s remarks, and then both organizers, along with Lena and Loretta, met with Sawyer, Stanback, and other mayoral aides at City Hall. A young assistant to Stanback, Judy Byrd, remembered being struck by Barack, who “spoke with such command and such clarity.” This was in stark contrast with Bruce’s impression of the new mayor. “I remember in that meeting talking to Sawyer,” Orenstein said, “and feeling like no one’s there, no one’s home.” Yet the central trio worked exceedingly well together. Bruce found Barack “very collaborative and very easy to work with,” and was repeatedly impressed by how Barack made sure that his top leader was never ignored or left out: “he was looking out for Loretta.” In addition, “Stanback’s a full partner. I remember Stanback saying at the time that he’s never had a more collaborative relationship with a community organization, and he really appreciated it.” At Stanback’s insistent urging, Orenstein also tried to convince some hard-core landfill opponents like Marian Byrnes to take part in the new process, but Byrnes realized that this was all leading to two predetermined ends: a new landfill at O’Brien Locks that the city desperately needed, and a $20 to $25 million community trust funded by Waste Management that would be controlled by UNO and DCP, not Jim Fitch and the wider community. Angry but determined, Marian, Hazel Johnson, and others picketed St. Kevin that evening, distributing a no-more-landfills flyer that invoked the title and featured song from the Eyes on the Prize civil rights documentary that had aired a year earlier. UNO members tried to obstruct the leafleting, and when Hegewisch News editor Vi Czachorski, a UNO opponent, tried to enter the basement, UNO’s Phil Mullins physically blocked her. “As I descended St. Kevin’s stairs, Mullins put his arms across the narrow stairway and said ‘You can’t attend this meeting.’ I tried to continue, crowds pushed. Mullins said ‘I’m getting the police. I’ll charge assault!’ ” Czachorski wrote in the next issue of her weekly newspaper. “I left.” UNO and DCP’s own dueling flyer demanded that Sawyer name a new task force “made up entirely of residents who live in communities affected by landfills.” Only such a group can “take this issue out of the backrooms and into the light of day.” DCP also distributed a statement in Loretta Augustine’s name denouncing “backroom deals that ram landfills down the communities’ throats and send the enormous profits from such dumping into corporate and city coffers.” As a crowd of more than six hundred filled St. Kevin’s basement, Orenstein paced nervously while Barack was “relaxed and cool.” Sawyer carried with him a briefing memo summarizing the remarks that Loretta and Mary Ellen would make as well as his own speech, typed out in large, bold capital letters. A seven-piece mariachi band provided entertainment as multiple TV camera crews set up their equipment. DCP president Dan Lee and St. Kevin pastor George Schopp joined Loretta, Lena, and the mayor on the stage. DCP’s Loretta Augustine opened the meeting. “We, as residents, have had no control over what has happened in our community. We are tired of being victims. We are taking control of our own community.” Then Lena spoke, followed by Sawyer. “Waste disposal and landfill decisions will no longer be made in the back room, at a table full of politically connected financial opportunists,” the mayor read, his text sounding far more like Bruce Orenstein than Gene Sawyer. “Whatever happens here will be because you decide.” With Lena and Loretta flanking the mayor, Lena then took charge of the traditional IAF-style colloquy with Sawyer, just as she had with Harold Washington almost five years earlier on that same stage. UNO and DCP had encouraged their supporters to be boisterous, and one reporter called the crowd “raucous.” Lena enjoyed her role to the hilt, and she began reciting the formal demand that the mayor appoint a new task force within ten days. She warned Sawyer to “be careful how you respond because this is an angry group of people tonight.” The mayor stuck to his script and pledged full acceptance of UNO and DCP’s demands. At that point, Lena turned to the cheering crowd and declared, “I’m going to take it for granted that we will have all the power we want!” As one veteran organizer later remarked, five years as a quintessential Alinsky leader had made Mary Ellen Montes into “one of the most macho women I had ever met.” As the gathering concluded, Bruce and Barack were ecstatic about the meeting. But UNO and DCP’s Alinsky-style power grabs—first blowing up the Fitch talks, then bringing a sad sack mayor to heel before an excited crowd—had fractured the Southeast Side community. Bruce, Lena, and Barack had succeeded in infuriating and alienating the local business leadership and the true environmentalists, two groups that just weeks earlier had been prepared to join forces in a true community consensus. Ed Vrdolyak quickly put Sawyer on notice, objecting to the city allowing UNO and DCP to control negotiations with Waste Management: “For certain community organizations who without question do not truly represent the vast majority of homeowners, residents, and taxpayers to submit their community buyout (sellout) wish list is totally and completely wrong.” But Vrdolyak’s public protest bore no political fruit, and a week later, Sawyer and Stanback announced a new sixteen-member Task Force on Landfill Options: Mary Ellen Montes led a group of five UNO supporters, including Father George Schopp; five other appointees were DCP members: Loretta Augustine, Dan Lee, Marlene Dillard, Margaret Bagby, and Father Dominic Carmon. Bob Klonowski was another ally, and no more than three appointees, including Marian Byrnes and Hazel Johnson, were likely dissenters. It was hard to imagine a more politically unrepresentative group. In late March Barack announced his upcoming departure. He went to see Loretta first. “He told me he was leaving and he needed to go back to school.” Most DCP members learned the news at a meeting where Barack spoke of a smooth transition to Johnnie Owens as his successor. Dan Lee recalls that “I wanted to cry” and “we all got teary-eyed…. He was like a brother.” Tommy West called out, “No, you can’t go,” but they all realized that Barack’s potential reached well beyond Roseland. “We hated to see him go,” Yvonne Lloyd remembered. “It was very sad,” but they all appreciated, as Betty Garrett explained, that “if he could better himself, then we wanted him to go.” Barack remembered overhearing Yvonne remark how different he seemed now than he did on that August day two and a half years earlier when Jerry Kellman had first introduced him. “He was just a boy. I swear, you look at him now, you’d think he was a different person.” Of course, in many ways indeed he was. Cathy Askew was the most emotional about Barack’s announcement. “I was really upset,” she recalled. “I thought we were friends.” Barack remembered Cathy expressing her disappointment and saying. “What is it with you men? Why is it you’re always in a hurry? Why is it that what you have isn’t good enough?” Yet they all understood how frustrating the past year had been for Barack. “For the leader or organizer who feels expected to bring some change and improvements to the community, the day-to-day litany of roadblocks and resistances makes it hard,” one close observer of Chicago organizing wrote that spring. Marlene Dillard had watched Barack experience repeated setbacks while always trying to hide his disappointment from DCP’s members. The outreach to Local 1033 at Republic LTV had gone for naught, the efforts in Altgeld Gardens had led to little, and only now was a tiny version of CEN getting under way. Again and again, “I always felt that it was a disappointment to him.” Whenever she and Barack visited a funder like Woods, “he was trying to project how great we were doing.” Then, “when we were leaving,” he would turn to her and apologize for his braggadocio: “Well, we’re trying.” Overall, “I think it weighed very heavy on him…. He was leading people, and he was getting nowhere.” Indeed, Marlene came to believe “that he felt ‘If I could just become the mayor of Chicago, I would be able to do this.’ ” Ernie Powell saw the same thing. “I think Barack got a little frustrated with that, and he felt like he had to get into the seat of power.” The DCP pastors who interacted regularly with Barack understood likewise. With CEN operating out of Reformation Lutheran, Tyrone Partee saw Barack almost daily and remembered him saying, “I’m going to law school.” Barack knew Tyrone was from a political family, and to him, Barack was “clear that he wanted to go into politics. ‘I believe that’s what I’m called to do.’ ” Alvin Love was caught off guard by Barack’s announcement, but he realized Barack was “frustrated with the speed of change” and had concluded that “there might be a better way to do” things. Barack went to see both Rev. Eddie Knox at Pullman Presbyterian Church and Rev. Rick Williams at Pullman Christian Reformed Church in person. With Knox, Barack presented Harvard as an opportunity he was pondering, and Knox smilingly replied, “There isn’t much to think about.” Harvard was such “a golden opportunity” and Knox believed “You’re going to go far.” Rick Williams reacted similarly. “I’m happy for you,” Rick remembered saying, “but I’m also sad, because this kind of work needs people for the long haul, people like yourself.” Rick understood Barack’s hope of building a truly large, multicongregational alliance to pursue educational reform and employment opportunity all across Chicago, but, just as Jeremiah Wright had sought to explain a year earlier, bringing people and churches together behind such an agenda was far more complicated than Barack could imagine. Rick told Barack that Harvard was “a wise decision” and wished him well. “You are going to do more for more people getting a law degree from Harvard than you would do here.” Barack had “a passion for making life better for lots of people,” Rick remembered, and to do that, “you’ve got to have power.” Barack also visited Emil Jones at his office on 111th Street. No elected official had done more for Barack and DCP, and Jones said he was sorry to see him go. To Jones as to others, Barack emphasized that there was no question he would return to Chicago after law school. He called Renee Brereton and other CHD staffers to tell them, plus organizing colleagues like Linda Randle. Barack apologized to Howard Stanback for pulling up stakes during their landfill effort. Stanback was surprised by Barack’s choice. “ ‘Why are you going to Harvard?’ He said, ‘Because I need to.’ I said, ‘Are you coming back?’ ” to which Obama said, “I’m absolutely coming back.” Barack, Loretta, and Yvonne Lloyd all attended Lena’s thirtieth birthday party, but by early April, there was not much to celebrate regarding UNO and DCP’s position in the Southeast Side’s landfill war. Anger at Sawyer’s new task force was white hot, especially in Hegewisch, just across the Calumet River from the O’Brien Locks site. Hegewisch News editor Vi Czachorski asked Howard Stanback, “Why should UNO decide if there will be a landfill in our backyard?” and Marian Byrnes, Hazel Johnson, and three allies called the task force unrepresentative and called on Mayor Sawyer to disband it. That group held its first public hearing at St. Kevin on April 7, and this time UNO’s critics made it into the basement meeting room, mocking cochairwomen Lena Montes and Loretta Augustine with chants of “No deals,” the same slogan Lena had used during the Fitch ambush two months earlier. The Daily Cal reported that Loretta defended the panel’s “makeup and goals” as a “positive development for the community and said the mayor had pledged to abide by the task force’s findings,” with its report due at the end of May. “The panel approved reopening discussions with Waste Management,” with Lena declaring, “What is different about it is that it will be talked about in open hearings, not behind closed doors.” But when old foe Foster Milhouse rose to speak, “Montes quickly closed” the meeting. The Daily Calumet editorialized against any reopening of negotiations with WMI, and UNO’s opponents advocated for a popular referendum vote against landfill expansion on the upcoming fall general election ballot in Southeast Side wards. One week later, the task force convened its second hearing at Our Lady of the Gardens gymnasium in Altgeld Gardens, where the tumultous Zirl Smith meeting had occurred two years earlier. Father Dominic Carmon, a task force member and Our Lady’s pastor, remembered that Barack “was there listening,” as at the previous St. Kevin session too. Howard Stanback, Jim Fitch, and WMI’s Mary Ryan all spoke to the panel as a crowd of 125 chanted “No more dumps.” For the first time, Stanback publicly acknowledged that the city did want the O’Brien Locks site to become a new landfill. Mary Ryan said WMI would immediately place $2 million into a community trust fund, with similar sums to be added every year, and it would give up title to two other parcels of land, including the marshland just below South Deering whose vulnerability had led Harold Washington to impose the initial landfill moratorium. That was followed by numerous single community members who spoke fervently against the deal. In the days that followed, the Daily Cal kept up a regular drumbeat against the task force. “Why study something no one in the community wants or asked for?” political columnist Phil Kadner queried. As the UNO–DCP landfill gambit drew more and more flak, the task force’s third hearing, scheduled to take place at Bob Klonowski’s Hegewisch church, was postponed and moved to Mann Park’s field house. When it finally convened, Klonowski welcomed the crowd in a calm tone, but, according to Vi Czachorksi, when a city representative again explained why O’Brien Locks was the best option available, “500 angry, frustrated people shouted down the city proposal of a new landfill.” The meeting “ended abruptly when Mary Ellen Montes lost control, stating ‘This has turned into a war.’ ” Declaring that “It doesn’t appear we can conduct this in a civilized manner,” she dissolved the hearing, leaving the entire UNO–DCP–Stanback strategy in tatters. The mayor’s office named several additional task force members and postponed its reporting date until later in the summer, but the entire venture was now dead. Years later, Bruce Orenstein acknowledged that his and Barack’s game plan had gone entirely awry. When “we make ourselves the center of authority … we make ourselves the target” for large numbers of Southeast Side residents who for years had been opposed to the city using their neighborhoods as a dumping ground. Orenstein mused that if Harold Washington had not died, perhaps the O’Brien Locks deal with Waste Management could indeed have netted the community a $25 million trust fund, just as he, Obama, and Stanback had envisioned. But Gene Sawyer had no public stature as mayor. “With a very strong mayor” like Washington, a successful outcome was highly plausible, but “now we have a very weak mayor.” During April’s landfill warfare, Gamaliel held its fourth weeklong training at Techny Towers, and Barack drove out there for several days’ sessions. By then, everyone knew he was leaving. Mary Gonzales was “pretty upset” when she heard, and David Kindler recalled thinking: “there goes one of our best and brightest.” Kindler’s friend Kevin Jokisch remembered telling Greg Galluzzo that Gamaliel would certainly miss Barack, with Greg responding, “We held on to him about as long as we were going to. Barack will probably end up being a United States senator.” One evening that week, Barack drank beer with Mike Kruglik and talked about what he wanted to do after law school. “Obama is talking about his vision for a very powerful, sweeping organization across black Chicago, of fifty to 150 congregations, that would be highly disciplined, highly focused, professionally organized,” Mike remembered. “This vision … had such a claim on his mind” and Barack was explicit about “coming back to Chicago after Harvard and reengaging in community organizing in a more powerful way.” Barack was thinking ahead in part because Ken Rolling and Jean Rudd at Woods had decided to fund and commission a series of articles about community organizing in Illinois Issues, the state’s premier public policy journal. Barack accepted an invitation to write one, but a quick deadline loomed. He had decided that he would travel to Nairobi to see Auma and meet the other members of his Kenyan family, but before that he wanted to spend at least three weeks on his own touring the big cities of Europe. Thus he needed to write his article before he left Chicago in late May. His essay would document how his thinking had evolved. Recent African American activism, Barack wrote, had featured “three major strands”: political empowerment, as personified by Harold Washington; economic development, of which black Chicago had seen very little; and community organizing. Barack argued that neither of the first two “offers lasting hope of real change for the inner city unless undergirded by a systematic approach to community organization.” Electing a black mayor like Washington was “not enough to bring jobs to inner-city neighborhoods or cut a 50 percent drop-out rate in the schools,” though such a victory did have “an important symbolic effect.” At the community level, “a viable organization can only be achieved if a broadly based indigenous leadership—and not one or two charismatic leaders—can knit together the diverse interests of their local institutions.” Barack claimed that DCP and similar groups had attained “impressive results,” ranging from school accountability and job training programs to renovated housing and refurbished parks. Those assertions echoed what Marlene Dillard had heard Barack boast about during their visits to DCP’s funders, yet when he wrote that “crime and drug problems have been curtailed,” he was making his wishfulness give way to fantasy. It was true that “a sophisticated pool of local civic leadership has been developed” thanks to DCP’s recruitment and training efforts, but he admitted that organizing in African American neighborhoods “faces enormous problems.” One was “the not entirely undeserved skepticism organizers face in many communities,” as he had experienced; a second was the “exodus from the inner city of financial resources, institutions, role models and jobs,” as he had seen all too well in Roseland and especially in Altgeld. Third, far too many groups emphasized what John McKnight called “consumer advocacy,” and demanded increased services rather than “harnessing the internal productive capacities … that already exist in communities.” Lastly, Barack declared that “low salaries, the lack of quality training and ill-defined possibilities for advancement discourage the most talented young blacks from viewing organizing as a legitimate career option.” Barack also argued that “the leadership vacuum and disillusionment following the death of Harold Washington” highlighted the need for a new political strategy. “Nowhere is the promise of organizing more apparent than in the traditional black churches,” if those institutions would “educate and empower entire congregations and not just serve as a platform for a few prophetic leaders. Should a mere 50 prominent black churches, out of the thousands that exist in cities like Chicago, decide to collaborate with a trained organizing staff, enormous positive changes could be wrought in the education, housing, employment and spirit of inner-city black communities, changes that would send powerful ripples throughout the city.” Barack ended his essay on a revealingly poetic note, writing that “organizing teaches as nothing else does the beauty and strength of everyday people.” When the entire series of Illinois Issues articles was subsequently republished in book form, one reviewer quoted that sentence as the single most powerful statement in the entire volume. But another of Barack’s sentences about organizing was the most revealing of all, for when he wrote that through their work “organizers can shape a sense of community not only for others, but for themselves,” he was publicly acknowledging the self-transformation he had experienced in the homes and churches of Greater Roseland. As early as his second year at Oxy, Barack had felt “a longing for a place,” for “a community … where I could put down stakes.” The idea of home, of finding a real home, “was something so powerful and compelling for me” because growing up he had been a youngster who “never entirely felt like he was rooted. That was part of my upbringing, to be traveling and always … wanting a place,” “a community that was mine.” His “history of being uprooted” allowed Barack to develop in less than two years what Sheila knew was “his deep emotional attachment to” Chicago, one that was almost entirely a product of Greater Roseland, not Hyde Park. “When he worked with these folks, he saw what he never saw in his life,” Fred Simari explained. “He grew tremendously through this,” through what he acknowledged was “the transformative experience” of his life, through what Fred saw was “him getting molded.” Greg Galluzzo saw it too and said that Barack “really doesn’t understand what it means to be African American until he arrives in Chicago.” But, working with the people of the Far South Side, Barack “recognizes in them their greatness and then affirms something inside of himself.” Through “the richest experience” of his life, through discovering and experiencing black Americans for the first time, Barack “fell in love with the people, and then he fell in love with himself.” Years later, Barack admitted that “the victories that we achieved were extraordinarily modest: getting a job-training site set up or getting an after-school program for young people put in place.” And he also knew that “the work that I did in those communities changed me much more than I changed the communities.” Ted Aranda, who had worked for Greg and in Roseland before Barack and whose Central American heritage made it possible for him to be accepted as black or Latino, came to the same conclusion as Barack. “I’m not sure that community organizing really did that much for Chicago,” he reflected. “I don’t know that we had any really tremendous long-term effect.” But Greg, looking back on a lifetime of organizing, understood the great fundamental truth of Barack’s realization: “it’s the people you encounter who are the victories.” For Ted, the disappointments and frustration of organizing radicalized him. A quarter century later, deeply devoted to Occupy, Ted was driving a cab. Greg understood as deeply as anyone that “the great victory of the whole thing is Barack himself.” In mid-April, the Spertus museum, part of a historic Jewish cultural center on South Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago, opened a seven-week exhibit depicting the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi henchman who had played such a central role in the anti-Semitic effort to exterminate European Jews. The centerpiece of the exhibition was a continuous film of the trial, supplemented by large photographs and illustrations of newspaper stories plus Jewish artifacts documenting the culture that the Nazi Holocaust had sought to destroy. The Tribune publicized the opening, and then, less than three weeks later, a front-page Tribune story revealed that anti-Semitism was alive and well even in Chicago’s City Hall: “Sawyer Aide’s Ethnic Slurs Stir Uproar,” read the headline of a story about mayoral assistant Steve Cokely, who had recently delivered four “long and frequently disjointed” lectures under the auspices of Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam (NOI). Tapes of them were on sale at an NOI bookstore, and while anti-Semitism lay at the center of Cokely’s often incoherent ramblings about a “secret society,” he also called both Jesse Jackson and the late Harold Washington “nigger.” Even worse, it was revealed that Mayor Sawyer’s office had known about the recordings for more than four months, and three weeks earlier representatives of the Anti-Defamation League had met with Sawyer about the lectures. But Cokely was still on the mayoral payroll. Well-known Catholic monsignor Jack Egan labeled Cokely’s retention a “travesty,” but a number of prominent black aldermen defended Cokely. Danny Davis, a supposed reformer from the 29th Ward, called Cokely “a very bright, talented researcher with an excellent command of the English language.” The 9th Ward’s Robert Shaw, citing voters he knew, said, “I don’t think it would be politically wise for the mayor to get rid of Mr. Cokely.” But the Tribune published a blistering editorial, denouncing Cokely as “a hate-spewing demagogue” and “a fanatic anti-Semite” and also lambasting Davis. After five days of feckless indecision, Gene Sawyer finally fired Cokely, but the damage to Chicago, never mind to Sawyer’s indelibly stained reputation, was already done. That evening, at a large West Side rally, Roseland’s Rev. Al Sampson introduced Cokely to a cheering crowd as “our warrior” and declared that “this is a case of Jewish organizations trying to stop one black man from having the right to speak.” In the middle of this, Barack took Sheila to see the Eichmann exhibit. Both of them would long remember what ensued. In Obama’s later account, in the one single public reference he would ever make to his 1980s girlfriends, he created a character who was a conflation of Alex, Genevieve, and mostly Sheila who goes with him to “a new play by a black playwright.” Several weeks earlier Barack had taken Sheila to see a Chicago amateur production of August Wilson’s powerful 1985 play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” but Sheila would remember the aftermath of the Eichmann exhibit more vividly than Wilson’s play. As they left, she asked Barack not about Eichmann, but about Steve Cokely and why so many prominent black Chicagoans were defending him rather than denouncing his moronic anti-Semitism. In Obama’s version, his white girlfriend asked about black anger, and he replies: “I said it was a matter of remembering—nobody asks why Jews remember the Holocaust, I think I said—and she said that’s different, and I said it wasn’t, and she said that anger was just a dead end. We had a big fight, right in front of the theater,” and “When we got back to the car, she started crying. She couldn’t be black, she said. She would if she could, but she couldn’t. She could only be herself, and wasn’t that enough.” Obama would admit that “whenever I think back” to that argument, “it somehow makes me ashamed.” Sheila and Barack did argue angrily that early May night on South Michigan Avenue, but it was because “I challenged him on … the question of black racism,” and his response was so disappointing that their argument became “pretty heated.” As Sheila recalled it, “I blamed him for not having the courage to confront the racial divide between us,” but in retrospect, she concluded that the chasm between them was not racial at all. Instead it lay in the profound tension between Barack’s insistence on “realism,” on pragmatism, and what she believed was simply a lack of courage on his part. “Courage was a big issue between us,” and their arguments over her belief that he lacked it were “very, very painful.” In early May, Sheila and Barack’s mutual friend Asif Agha returned to Hyde Park after six months in Nepal. He remembers thinking at the time that “they had a good relationship. They were really tight, really solid,” but he also noted that the tensions between them were even greater than they had been during that tumultuous weekend in Madison nine months earlier. Asif thought Sheila had a deeper commitment to their lives together than did Barack, and now, listening to Barack talk about his goals, Asif understood that his friend “wanted to have a less complex public footprint” as a future candidate for public office, particularly in the black community. Asif recalls Barack saying, “The lines are very clearly drawn…. If I am going out with a white woman, I have no standing here.” Asif realized just how profound the tension had become for Barack between the personal and the political. “If he was going to enter public life, either he was going to do it as an African American, or he wasn’t going to do it.” When asked if Barack had said he could not marry someone white, Asif assented. “He said that, exactly. That’s what he told me.” Even as his time in Roseland was ending, Obama still had to keep up with DCP’s school reform alliance with UNO. Johnnie, Aletha Strong Gibson, and Ann West were more involved than he was, but DCP continued to follow UNO’s Danny Solis and Lourdes Monteagudo. By late April, what was left of Harold Washington’s official Education Summit had failed to endorse reform legislation that was muscular enough to satisfy top reformers like Don Moore, Fred Hess, and Pat Keleher of Chicago United. So UNO and DCP were now formally backing Chicago United’s proposal, which was introduced in the state legislature by Senate Education Committee chairman Arthur L. Berman as S.B. 1837. When Berman’s committee held a daylong hearing on four competing bills on Tuesday, April 26, Barack and a small group of DCP members including Loretta Augustine, Rosa Thomas, Aletha Strong Gibson, and Ann West traveled to Springfield to lobby legislators and to hear Lourdes Monteagudo testify on behalf of UNO and DCP in support of S.B. 1837. Writing in the Tribune, CPS superintendent Manford Byrd once again energized reform advocates by decrying their attacks on “some monolithic, intractable bureaucracy which in fact does not exist” and claiming that “the school system is broadly understaffed.” First the Sun-Times and then the Tribune began publishing multipart exposés on CPS’s failings. The Trib series debuted with a long feature on one elementary school, “a hollow educational warehouse” that is “rich in remedial programs that draw attention to a child’s failures.” An accompanying editorial warned that “Chicago’s public school system is failing its children and jeopardizing the city’s future.” The next day, in a culmination of negotiations that Don Moore’s Designs for Change colleague Renee Montoya had been conducting with UNO’s Danny Solis, DFC’s reform bill, H.B. 3707, sponsored by African American Chicago representative Carol Moseley Braun, was strengthened with the addition of provisions from Chicago United’s S.B. 1837. UNO and DCP joined in publicly shifting their support to the Braun bill, whose cosponsor was progressive Chicago Puerto Rican state senator Miguel del Valle, and reform energies increasingly coalesced behind the Braun–del Valle measure. In one Trib story, powerful 14th Ward alderman Edward Burke declared that “nobody in his right mind would send kids to public school.” In another, Manford Byrd called himself “probably the most gifted urban administrator in this country” while once again dismissing CPS’s obligations to its students: “When you’re all done, the learner must learn for himself.” In the final ten days before Barack’s departure from Chicago for his two-month trip to Europe and then Kenya, things came completely apart at 5429 South Harper Avenue. Ever since Barack had transferred to Columbia almost seven years earlier, he had kept a journal, using it to record vignettes that might find their way into a future book and also sometimes for creating drafts of short stories and even letters to friends. Sheila knew of Barack’s practice, and sometime after their heated argument outside the Spertus museum, she decided to take a look at it. Lena Montes heard from Barack what ensued. “She reacted to this journal that he kept under his bed or mattress,” Lena recalled. “I remember when he says that she found some journal, and he talks about somebody in this journal and that she’s upset” after she read it. Barack did not tell Lena whether she was that someone. “Was it a straw that broke the camel’s back? I’m not sure. I just remember him saying that she … was leaving because of this journal.” Just as Barack was about to leave Chicago, Sheila moved out of their apartment and moved in with her younger friend Simrit “Sima” Dhesi, who had just completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago, and her sister in an apartment four blocks away at 5324 South Kimbark Avenue. Sheila later said that May 1988 “was kind of a blur for me.” Barack mentioned what was happening not only to Lena, but also to Loretta Augustine and even to his archdiocesan friend and Hyde Park neighbor Cynthia Norris. Cynthia understood that Sheila “was upset,” and that the tensions between her and Barack were “because of her race…. Yes, I do remember that.” Norris knew that Barack “had a lot of respect for” Sheila, and from what she knew, “I thought he handled things very, very well.” Loretta remembered it similarly. “He talked to me about her,” she recalled. “We had some really open and candid conversations” about the turmoil. “He obviously cared for her,” and was disturbed by what was happening. “I remember telling him, ‘If it’s really real, what you all have, you’ll come back’ ” after his trip and revive the relationship, “ ‘and if it’s not, you’ll go forward.’ ” A number of small going-away parties occurred during Barack’s last week before he departed. Reformation Lutheran caretaker John Webster remembered one there, which was also where the small CEN program was now centered; Margaret Bagby recalled another one at St. Catherine’s with catered food. One evening everyone from DCP was invited to a quiet party at a small restaurant in suburban Blue Island. Greg Galluzzo, who had spent so many hours with Barack over the previous eighteen months, “bought him a briefcase and had it engraved” with just “Barack” as a useful going-away present for a law student. On another night, Barack and Bruce Orenstein went out to drink beer, and Barack asked Bruce what he would be doing ten years from now. “I’m going to be making social change videos,” Bruce answered. Bruce in turn asked Barack the same question. He said he intended to write a book about his upcoming trip to Kenya, and then “I’m going to be mayor of Chicago.” Bruce was taken aback. “That was the first I heard of it,” and “I thought it was a lot of moxie to say that he was going to be mayor.” A few days later, with Sheila having moved from their apartment, Barack flew east. Almost that same day, a dinner announced several weeks earlier was taking place to honor Frank Lumpkin for the eight years he had devoted to winning recompense for the Wisconsin steelworkers who had been thrown out onto the streets of South Deering back in March 1980. Frank’s loyalties had not changed. The banquet’s proceeds would “benefit the People’s Daily World,” the newspaper of the Communist Party USA, but that did not deter a trio of notable figures from signing on as public patrons. State Senator Miguel del Valle, sponsor of the pending school reform bill, was one, 22nd Ward reform alderman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia was a second, and Monsignor Leo T. Mahon was a third. “Best wishes to a man who fights for justice,” read Leo’s greeting in the banquet program. Maybe Foster Milhouse and the other right-wing zealots had been right all along, that social justice Catholicism and grassroots communism were indeed one and the same. Roberta Lynch, CCRC’s first staff organizer, and Tribune business editor Dick Longworth both sent their apologies for being out of town, but a crowd of more than four hundred attended, including U.S. congressman Charles Hayes, a veteran of both labor struggles and the 1966 Chicago Freedom Movement. The Daily Calumet gave the event glowing coverage—“Lumpkin Honored at Dinner”—and three days later editorialized in his honor, simply and accurately calling him “a hero.” After eight years of organizing, Frank Lumpkin had prevailed, and even triumphed. Just short of three, Barack Obama was headed toward Harvard Law School with the intent of becoming not just mayor of Chicago but eventually president of the United States. Barack had scheduled a full month to see the great cities of Europe all by himself: Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, and Rome, then to London and from there to Nairobi. He later wrote that he anticipated “a whimsical detour, an opportunity to visit places I had never seen before,” but his memory would be that “I’d made a mistake” in allocating so many days for his European grand tour, because “it just wasn’t mine.” After almost three years of interacting with a dozen or more people almost every single day, now he was entirely alone in countries where he knew virtually nothing of either the language or the culture. Before the end of May he was busily dispatching postcards to Sheila, Lena, Cathy Askew, and Cynthia Norris from Paris, “some quite humorous,” Sheila remembered. To Cathy, he wrote about how beautiful the buildings were, to Cynthia he described the city’s astonishing appeal: “I wander around Paris, the most beautiful, alluring, maddening city I’ve ever seen; one is tempted to chuck the whole organizing/political business and be a painter on the banks of the Seine. You’ll be amused to know that since I don’t know a word of French, I’m left speechless most of the time. Wish you a fruitful summer. Love, Barack.” Traveling largely by bus and train, Barack was also reading a journalistic account of modern Africa in preparation for his visit to Kenya. He later told about meeting and trying to converse with a Senegalese traveler on the way from Madrid to Barcelona, but in subsequent years, Barack never referred to any experiences or memories from his four weeks on the continent. By the last weekend in June, he was in London, where Hasan and Raazia Chandoo had moved six months earlier from Brooklyn. The three of them had lunch in a brasserie before seeing Wim Wenders’s new film, Wings of Desire, at a cinema in Notting Hill. From London Heathrow, Barack flew to Nairobi. His sister Auma and his Aunt Zeituni, the family member who had been the closest to his late father, met him at the airport, but Barack’s suitcase did not arrive until several days later. In preparation for his visit, Barack also had read a brand-new book on Dedan Kimathi, a Kenyan anticolonial warrior of the 1950s whom the British had executed in 1957, but instead of discussing Kenyan history while he stayed at Auma’s apartment, sleeping on her couch, they talked mostly about their extended clan of relatives. “There was never a moment of silence or embarrassed awkwardness” between them, Auma recalled. But with Barack wanting to meet as many family members as possible, “It wasn’t all nice. Sometimes he wanted to see a relative I didn’t really get along with, and he’d be like ‘It’s my right, and I need to see them, and I’m not going alone, and you’re coming with me,’ ” she explained. Auma always assented, although her thoroughly unreliable Volkswagen Beetle was their primary mode of transport around sprawling Nairobi. One drive took them to see Auma’s mother Kezia and her sister Silpa Jane, who six years earlier had been the telephone caller who told Barack of his father’s death. On another, Zeituni took Barack to meet her older sister Sarah, who was living in a scruffy slum. But the most difficult visit was to Ruth Baker Ndesandjo, whose son Mark—Barack’s younger brother—was home for the summer and about to begin graduate school at Stanford after having just graduated from Brown. Barack later imagined that Ruth had invited him and Auma to come for lunch, but both Ruth and Mark convincingly remember Barack and Auma turning up with no forewarning. As Mark recounts, a “very awkward, cold” encounter ensued, as Ruth found the unexpected arrival of her ex-husband’s namesake “pretty traumatic.” Years later she recalled, “I closed up. I had nothing to say,” for “I didn’t have the capacity to talk with him or exchange with him because he was a reflection of a man I hated. So I didn’t want anything to do with him.” Barack wanted to see more of Mark, and they arranged to have lunch a few days later. Mark remembered thinking that Barack had a “cold” demeanor, “absolutely no sense of humor,” and “wanted to shut out any emotional involvement” with his likewise half-Luo, half-white American brother, especially when Mark bluntly stated that “our father was a drunk and he beat women.” Barack later admitted that meeting Ruth and Mark, and grasping at least in part how abusively his father had treated them, affected him deeply. “The recognition of how wrong it had all turned out, the harsh evidence of life as it had really been lived, made me so sad,” far more so than he had been three years earlier when he had learned during Auma’s visit to Chicago just how deeply tragic a life Barack Obama Sr. had led. During Barack’s second week in Kenya, Auma took him on a wild-game safari, and then the two of them plus Zeituni and Kezia took a train northwest to Kisumu and then a jitney bus to the family homestead at Nyang’oma Kogelo. There Barack met Sarah, the stepmother who had raised his father. Barack asked her if anything of his father’s still survived. “She opened a trunk and took out a stack of letters, which she handed to me. There were more than thirty of them, all of them written by my father,” carbon copies “all addressed to colleges and universities all across America” from when Obama Sr. was seeking admission to the University of Hawaii and other colleges. Holding them reminded Barack of the letters he had written a few years earlier, “trying to find a job that would give purpose to my life.” That moment, even more than standing at his father’s unmarked grave in the side yard of Sarah’s small, tin-roofed brick home, marked the most powerful and direct paternal link Barack had ever experienced. The connection was underscored when relatives remarked that Barack’s voice sounded “exactly how his father spoke.” Barack’s visit to Nyang’oma Kogelo, like his earlier one to Aunt Sarah in that Nairobi slum, made Barack realize that his Kenyan relatives’ lives sometimes paralleled those of people whom he knew in Altgeld Gardens. Pondering John McKnight’s analysis, in Kogelo Barack wondered whether “the idea of poverty had been imported to this place, a new standard of need and want.” Barack later wrote that while in Kenya, “for the first time in my life, I found myself thinking deeply about money,” perhaps foreshadowing the debt load he was about to take on to follow his father’s footsteps to Harvard rather than attend Northwestern cost free. He told Auma that his decision to attend law school was a response to his experiences in Chicago, because as a community organizer he could not “ultimately bring about significant change.” Back in Nairobi, everyone went to a photography studio so that a family portrait could be taken, and Barack and Auma made a brief visit to an elementary school so that he could meet his youngest sibling, George, the son of Jael Atieno. One night Auma took Barack to meet one of her former teachers, a woman who had also known their father. Barack recounted her presciently telling him that being a historian “requires a temperament for mischief” and instructing him that when confronted with roseate fictions, “truth is usually the best corrective.” For his final weekend in Kenya, Auma and Barack took a train eastward to the country’s second largest city, coastal Mombasa. Overall, “it was a magical trip,” Barack remembered, an immersion into the life of the father who had abandoned him, an immersion that “made me I think much more forgiving of him” than he had been before experiencing Luo life and culture for the very first time. Before the end of July, Barack returned to Chicago, where he was all alone in the 5429 South Harper apartment until the lease expired in early August. When Asif’s friend Doug Glick stopped by, he was struck by how different the place looked without Sheila. But Barack and Sheila’s two months apart had not ended the relationship between them. Johnnie Owens had run into Sheila in Hyde Park during the summer and remembers how “upset,” even “brokenhearted” she seemed about what had happened just before Barack’s trip. But Barack’s more-than-weekly letters from Europe and Kenya had rebuilt much of their bond. Even so, in little more than two weeks he had to head to Massachusetts before the start of Harvard’s fall semester. He needed to purchase a better car than the blue Honda Civic that he had driven from Manhattan just over three years earlier, and he replaced it with an off-yellow 1984 Toyota Tercel hatchback he bought for $500 from a suburban police officer. Barack also wanted to be sure that Johnnie’s transition was going as smoothly as possible, not just at DCP, where everyone already knew Johnnie, but also with DCP’s downtown supporters. “He made sure that the leaders were comfortable,” Johnnie remembered, but “the main thing he did was transfer those financial funder relations” with Jean Rudd at Woods, Anne Hallett at Wieboldt, and Aurie Pennick at MacArthur. Just a few weeks later, MacArthur would award DCP its second annual $20,000 grant. Barack “left the organization in a very good position,” Johnnie explained, and the effort Barack put into the transition further showed that he intended to return to Chicago after law school. Barack’s greatest disappointment was the lack of state funds to expand DCP’s after-school tutoring program, but with state government consumed by the struggle over Chicago school reform, the legislature had remained in session beyond its normal end-of-June adjournment to pass a compromise bill. At the end of May, reform forces had reunified themselves into a new coalition called the Alliance for Better Chicago Schools, or ABCs, with UNO playing a lead role and DCP a minor one. A massive June 6 rally had called upon reform supporters to make their case in person to state legislators in Springfield, and the slogan “Don’t come home without it!” became reformers’ new rallying cry. The Chicago City Council approved a vote of no confidence in Manford Byrd by 39 to 4, soon followed by the resignation of a board of education member who now felt similarly. “I assumed education was the first priority of the whole system, and it is not,” retired business executive William Farrow announced. Down in Springfield, House speaker Michael J. Madigan brought the interested parties together for marathon negotiation and drafting sessions in his office. Danny Solis and Al Raby both took part, but the most influential participant was one of Madigan’s deputies, Chicago state representative John Cullerton. By the end of June Al Raby was proclaiming that “real reform of Chicago schools is within our grasp,” and on Saturday, July 2, both houses of the state legislature passed a compromise bill. Failure to adopt the measure by the end of June would delay its effective date for a year, but Chicago United’s Patrick Keleher said the bill represented “as much if not more than any of us had hoped for.” Barack heard far less encouraging news about his other top concern, the Southeast Side landfill tussle. Mayor Sawyer’s new UNO-and-DCP-dominated task force had held additional public hearings during June, and in late July met privately with both city and Waste Management representatives. By the end of the summer, its report to Sawyer was complete, though several weeks would pass before cochairs Loretta Augustine and Mary Ellen Montes joined the mayor at a City Hall press conference. “The city of Chicago is facing a crisis,” Sawyer announced. “We’re going to have to bite the bullet and do some things that we would prefer not to do,” namely allow the O’Brien Locks site to become a landfill. That outcome had always looked inevitable, but Bruce, Barack, and Mary Ellen’s strategic success in blowing up the Fitch negotiations meant that any landfill now would be controlled not by Waste Management but by the Metropolitan Sanitary District. Alinsky-style warfare had not only destroyed a likely Southeast Side consensus to accept a quid-pro-quo deal with Waste Management, it had deprived those neighborhoods of the multimillion-dollar bounty WMI had been willing to pay. It was a debacle all around. A decade later, Jim Fitch would be sent to federal prison for eighteen months and fined $1 million for looting bank funds throughout the 1980s in order to contribute to Southeast Side politicians. Another decade further on, with UNO having abandoned South Chicago and transformed itself into something that bore no resemblance to the organization that Mary Gonzales, Greg Galluzzo, and Mary Ellen Montes had originally built, UNO would endorse a Waste Management effort to expand Southeast Side landfills. In Barack’s final days before he left for Harvard, the DCP members to whom he had become closest held a small barbecue for him at Loretta Augustine’s home. He assured them, “If you have problems, you can contact me and I’ll do what I can.” He also had a trio or more of presents for them, wooden figurines he said he had brought back from Kenya. Dan Lee remembered that Barack gave him “a statue of a warrior with a chipped beard.” Cathy Askew recalled admiring a giraffe, but “I think he gave me the zebra because of the mixed black and white stripes,” an acknowledgment of their disagreement about biracial identity. Mary Ellen Montes did not attend that party, but one evening Barack took her out to dinner at a downtown restaurant. “We had our own kind of little going-away party, Barack and I, and it was just Barack and I,” she remembered. Barack promised to write to her, and he would, but that night, or the next morning, was the last time Lena and Barack would see each other in person. With the lease on the South Harper apartment expiring several days before Barack planned to leave, he joined Sheila in her apartment on South Kimbark. She was preparing to leave Chicago soon too to begin her dissertation fieldwork in South Korea thanks to a Fulbright fellowship, and when she joined Barack for a farewell visit to Jerry Kellman’s home, they had a question for Jerry and his wife. “They come to dinner at our house,” Jerry remembered, “and they say ‘Could you please keep this cat?’ ” The Kellmans willingly agreed to give Max a new home. “Barack was not sad to give Max away,” Sheila explained, but for Max the transition was all to the good, and he would enjoy eight years of love with the Kellmans. Jerry knew that Barack and Sheila were not breaking up, just headed in different geographical directions. He thought “they had a great, healthy relationship,” although one that was now constrained by Barack’s career plans. “By the time Barack left to go to law school, he had made the decision that he would go into public life,” Jerry realized. Indeed, “my sense is that Barack’s dream was to come back and possibly become mayor of Chicago.” But Barack was still trapped between his belief in his own destiny and his deep emotional tie to Sheila. One day that final week “he said that he’d come to a decision and asked me to go to Harvard with him and get married, mostly, I think, out of a sense of desperation over our eventual parting and not in any real faith in our future,” Sheila recalled. Her memory was reminiscent of Genevieve’s from three summers earlier, when Barack had asked her to come to Chicago with him, and Genevieve had thought Barack was asking her only because he was certain her answer would be no. Now, once again, the answer was no, and Sheila was upset by Barack’s presumption that she should postpone, if not abandon, her dissertation research in order to accompany him to Harvard. A “very angry exchange” followed, with Sheila feeling that Barack believed that his career interests should trump hers. Barack started eastward within a day or two, knowing he could stay temporarily with his uncle Omar, who had remained in greater Boston ever since first arriving there thanks to his older brother a quarter century earlier and whose phone number and address Aunt Zeituni had given Barack while he was in Nairobi. But before heading back down Stony Island Avenue to the Skyway and then the Indiana Toll Road, Barack needed to have one other conversation. “I was a little troubled about the notion of going off to Harvard. I thought that maybe I was betraying my ideals and not living up to my values. I was feeling guilty,” he told a college audience just six years later. Barack called Donita at Trinity and made an appointment to see Jeremiah Wright to seek his counsel about those doubts. In a way, it was just like the conversation he had had nine Augusts earlier, in Honolulu, when eighteen-year-old Barry had gone to visit Frank Marshall Davis before leaving for Occidental and life on the mainland. Years later, before their relationship was torn apart, Wright would say that Barack was “like a son to me.” One of the most knowledgeable and savvy women in black Chicago would make the same point: “Jeremiah Wright was the black male father figure for Barack,” she emphasized. “Don’t underestimate the influence that Jeremiah had on Barack.” Wright would not specifically remember their conversation that August day, but Barack always would. In a way, it was a three years’ bookend to the admonishing monologue about being a do-gooder that Bob Elia have given him that night in the motel lobby on South Hermitage Road. That exchange would stay with Barack always, as would this one, but the substance of Wright’s message was identical to the warning that old Frank had voiced: “You’re not going to college to get educated. You’re going there to get trained,” trained “to manipulate words so they don’t mean anything anymore,” trained “to forget what you already know.” Wright’s message was just five words, ones that would ring in Barack’s ears for the entire two-day drive eastward: “Don’t let Harvard change you!” Chapter Five (#ulink_c7d7289a-c9eb-5c50-89ea-50e49b260a4c) EMERGENCE AND ACHIEVEMENT (#ulink_c7d7289a-c9eb-5c50-89ea-50e49b260a4c) HARVARD LAW SCHOOL SEPTEMBER 1988–MAY 1991 Omar Onyango Obama, the younger brother whom Barack Obama Sr. had helped come to the United States in 1963 to attend high school, was by August 1988 an unmarried forty-four-year-old store clerk living in central Cambridge. Omar’s apartment at 48 Bishop Allen Drive was his twenty-seven-year-old nephew’s first destination when Barack exited the Massachusetts Turnpike upon arriving from Chicago. Omar had never completed high school, but his mundane work life had not kept him from developing keen political interests. “I am a Pan-Africanist,” he wrote in a letter to Ebony magazine, one who shared “the dreams of brothers Marcus Garvey, W. E. B. Du Bois and Malcolm X.” Barack had never met his uncle Omar, but Omar happily hosted him while Barack scoured the Boston Globe’s classified ads looking for a place of his own. John “Jay” Holmes owned the handsome, almost century-old Queen Anne–style Langmaid Terrace apartment building at 359–365 Broadway in Somerville’s Winter Hill neighborhood. Harvard Law School was a twelve-minute, two-and-half-mile drive away, but for $700 a month a one-bedroom basement-level “garden” apartment there offered more private and spacious quarters, including a nice exposed-brick living room, than other rentals closer in. By the end of August, Barack was happily settled at 365 Broadway #B1, and on September 1, Harvard Law School (HLS)’s two-day registration and orientation for first-year students—“1Ls”—got under way on its multibuilding campus on the east side of Massachusetts Avenue, a short distance north of Harvard Square. The entering class of 1991 numbered 548 students, selected from among seventy-one hundred applicants. Forty percent of the new class were women, and 22 percent were nonwhite, including fifty-seven African American students, of whom almost two-thirds were women. That was impressive diversity: the 2L and 3L classes had started with sixty and seventy-three African Americans, respectively. While the average age of the new 1Ls was twenty-three, with an overwhelming majority coming directly from their undergraduate studies, 5 percent of the class was over the age of thirty, including “many students who experienced the ‘real world’ before coming to law school,” according to the weekly Harvard Law Record. Word among the faculty was that “preferences for applicants who had taken time off, engaged in public works, or participated in other significant outside activities or experiences” had played a significant role in admissions decisions. The school had an illustrious reputation but a deeply troubled internal culture. For three years, the faculty had been embroiled in toxic ideological warfare that had seen four junior faculty members denied permanent appointments, the first such tenure denials in seventeen years. That quartet was seen as “crits,” or proponents of “critical legal studies” (CLS), a left-wing school of thought that viewed legal rules and doctrines as inherently conservative rather than politically neutral. While several prominent crits, including CLS’s most erudite proponent, Roberto Mangabeira Unger, a Brazilian legal philosopher, were senior members of the Harvard law faculty, other full professors, including Robert C. Clark and David Rosenberg, were perceived as conservative “law and economics” devotees who were generally hostile to the work of crits. James Vorenberg, dean of the law school since 1981, had announced his upcoming departure from that post in April 1988, just as tensions over a second issue of faculty composition—racial and gender diversity—were reaching a new peak as well. Seven years earlier, the roughly sixty-member Harvard law faculty had included just one tenured woman and a single tenured black male, who passed away in 1983. By 1988 there were five senior women, all white, and two tenured black men—Derrick Bell and Christopher Edley—with one more woman and three additional black men—Charles Ogletree, Randall Kennedy, and David Wilkins—all on the cusp of consideration for permanent appointments. In May 1988, the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) occupied Vorenberg’s office in a “study vigil” to protest the school’s failure to appoint additional minority faculty, with Professor Bell and legendary civil rights organizer Robert Moses addressing a student rally the next day. Even with their healthy representation in each entering class, Harvard’s black law students felt a constant need to prove they were just as qualified as their white classmates to succeed at HLS. “Everything here says you can’t do it,” graduating BLSA president Verna Williams remarked in a fifty-page 1988 BLSA publication. “BLSA fights that negative attitude, and that builds you up.” The 1988 class had found BLSA in “disarray” upon their 1985 arrival and had worked to show that black students could attain leadership positions in multiple student organizations. By their 3L year, they had succeeded, with 1987–88 marking “the first time in HLS history that black law students, in significant numbers, had not only gotten involved in campus organizations outside of BLSA, but had done so with such success and capability that their peers … asked them to lead the organizations.” But law students of all races were deeply unhappy with the institution’s culture. In the late 1980s “attending Harvard Law School was a miserable experience for the majority of its students,” one highly supportive alumnus later acknowledged, and a 1988 forum soliciting student input regarding the selection of Vorenberg’s successor instead focused on “the alienation students have felt from the law faculty,” the Harvard Crimson reported. “I don’t always feel that professors are here who can teach,” one 3L woman told the paper. “Law school seems to exist primarily for the professors.” Another 3L wrote in a subsequent memoir, “I didn’t know any of my law school professors,” and described how “the one thing that actually drew the student body together was a widespread disenchantment with our teachers.” He also recounted that although 70 percent of his classmates had arrived at Harvard expressing an interest in practicing public interest law, only six out of 474 actually accepted legal-services jobs after graduation. Four years earlier a young sociologist, Robert Granfield, had begun questioning scores of Harvard law students to analyze the “complex ideological process that systematically channels students away from socially oriented work.” He concluded that “students come to believe that effective social progress occurs primarily through the use of elite positions and resources.” Graduates “feel that they have emerged with their altruism intact, while having actually been co-opted” into joining large corporate law firms as a result of their acculturation at what he called “a tremendously powerful co-optive institution.” The bottom line was that “employment in organizations designed principally to serve the corporate rich came to be seen as highly compatible with public service ideals.” BLSA’s long, mid-1988 report included a four-page essay entitled “Minority and Women Law Professors: A Comparison of Teaching Styles,” written by a graduating 3L who had accepted a job at the Chicago office of Sidley & Austin, one of the country’s most prominent corporate law firms. Michelle Robinson had taken Criminal Law with Charles Ogletree and Family Law with Martha Minow, a young professor who had been awarded tenure in 1986 and whose father was one of Sidley & Austin’s best-known partners. Robinson briefly interviewed both Ogletree and Minow, as well as David Wilkins, because she saw each of them as highly atypical faculty members: “each one of these professors spends an enormous amount of time with students—particularly minority and women students,” she wrote. Robinson clearly admired Minow, writing that “sitting in her Family Law class is like sitting in the studio audience during a taping of the Phil Donahue Show.” Not all compliments are actually flattering, but it was David Wilkins, in just his second year of teaching at Harvard, who supplied the real gist of Robinson’s essay. “The problem here is that only about ten percent of the professors care enough about students to spend time with them,” he bluntly told her. “Consequently, this ten percent gets a disproportionate share of students to counsel.” He pointed out further that they bore that heavy ancillary burden while also striving to write the law review articles necessary for promotion to tenured full professor. Like many of her fellow students, Robinson lamented the law faculty’s relative lack of “people who possess the enthusiasm, sensitivity and ingenuity necessary to bring excitement back into the classroom.” She also decried the school’s lack of interest in hiring a more diverse faculty and said it “merely reinforces racist and sexist stereotypes,” attitudes that also were manifest in “the rude statements and questions posed by students”—white students—“to Professors Wilkins and Ogletree.” But as Robinson’s acceptance of Sidley & Austin’s highly remunerative job offer underscored, another defining element of the law school’s culture was that the high cost of a Harvard education provided a powerful incentive for graduates to take the best-paying jobs available. Several hundred graduating students had completed a Robert Granfield questionnaire that probed that subject, and a heavy majority acknowledged that “the necessity of repaying educational loans” had been a decisive factor in their own job decisions. With most graduates leaving Harvard saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt, law students “are co-opted into futures of providing service for the corporate elite,” Granfield concluded. Verna Myers had arrived at the law school straight from her 1981–82 senior year as president of Columbia and Barnard’s Black Student Organization. “I went to Harvard expecting to change the world,” but in 1985, “I left Harvard thinking ‘How can I pay my loans?’ ” The first day of Harvard’s fall 1988 registration for 1Ls featured a 1:00 P.M. financial aid session. Tuition for the year was $12,300, with total costs for a student living off-campus estimated at $22,450. That day or the next, the new students also received their course schedules for the fall semester. The entering class was divided into four numerically identified sections—I, II, III, and IV—of about 140 students apiece. Each section had five core first-year courses: Civil Procedure, Contracts, Torts, Criminal Law, and Property. Within each of those four sections, each student was also assigned to a thirteen-member “O Group”—O as in Orientation—which would then become their ungraded, fall semester one-afternoon-a-week Legal Methods class, taught by an upper-class student. Each O Group had a faculty mentor, and for Section III, to which Obama was assigned, one of the five substantive courses, Torts, would be divided into a trio of smaller, forty-five student classes. For Section III, Civil Procedure and Contracts would last the entire year, three hours a week. Torts and Criminal Law would meet five hours per week in the fall semester. In the spring, when 1Ls could choose a single elective from among half a dozen choices, Section III would have Property five hours per week, and the Legal Methods class would morph into a prolonged “moot court” exercise in which two-person teams briefed and argued faux court cases. One odd feature of Harvard’s first-year schedule was that final exams for the fall classes took place only in mid-January, well after the Christmas and New Year’s break. The first classmates the new students met were their fellow members of the O Group, who introduced themselves alphabetically. Richard Cloobeck was a twenty-two-year-old Dartmouth graduate from Los Angeles. African American Eric Collins, from North Carolina, had just graduated from Princeton. Twenty-three-year-old UCLA graduate Diana Derycz had just finished a master’s degree at Stanford. Then came a trio of visibly older men. Rob Fisher had grown up on a farm in Charles County in southern Maryland before graduating from Duke in 1976 and completing a Ph.D. in economics there six years later. From 1982 until a few months earlier he had taught economics at the College of the Holy Cross in western Massachusetts. Mark Kozlowski, a 1980 graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, had spent the past eight years studying political theory at Columbia University and was about to submit his Ph.D. dissertation on the constitutional thought of American framer and president James Madison. When Barack Obama introduced himself, “the way he spoke was very, very memorable,” Richard Cloobeck recounted. “He was talking about black folks and white folks” and “what really, really struck me is that I got the impression he was neither.” Mark Kozlowski remembered Barack mentioning both Hawaii and Indonesia when he spoke. “I was immediately very impressed with Barack” and “I was immediately taken with the voice.” The trio of Fisher, Kozlowski, and Obama made Cloobeck realize “there was a big distinction between the older people and the younger people,” and Diana Derycz remembered similarly, thinking “how brainy people were” in this new northeastern environment. After Obama was a twenty-two-year-old Tufts graduate. “I’m Jennifer Radding. I have no idea how I got in,” she said. She remembers that Barack was among those who laughed, and “he knew I was a bit of a jokester,” Jennifer explained. Jeff Richman had just graduated from the University of Michigan, and Sarah Leah Whitson was a brand-new graduate of UC Berkeley with family roots in the Middle East. The high-powered group featured strikingly diverse experiences. Diana Derycz had spent five years in Mexico as a child and was working part-time as a professional model. Fisher had studied in Australia for three years during and after graduate school, Barack had lived almost three years in Indonesia, and Whitson had spent summers with relatives in Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. O group instructor Scott Becker, a twenty-five-year-old 3L who was a graduate of the University of Illinois, found himself supervising a group of 1Ls some of whom—Rob, Mark, and Barack in particular—were older and more worldly-wise than he. The first day’s mandate was to conduct some sort of attorney-witness Q&A exercise, and when it was over, Barack immediately introduced himself to the obviously brilliant Rob Fisher, who was seven years his senior. “We instantly became friends,” Fisher recalled. Rob’s intellectual enthusiasm and energy belied his thirty-four years. In 1986, New York University Press had published his book The Logic of Economic Discovery: Neoclassical Economics and the Marginal Revolution. The book’s title purposely mirrored Karl Popper’s famous The Logic of Scientific Discovery, and the major figure in Fisher’s work was the late Hungarian philosopher of science Imre Lakatos, whose scholarly work in Popper’s empiricist tradition was vastly better known than his role as a hard-core Stalinist in Hungary’s post–World War II Communist Party. Fisher’s focus was what he termed “A Lakatosian Approach to Economics,” and his volume had garnered enthusiastically positive reviews in scholarly journals. “The book effectively demonstrates the applicability of the philosophy of science to the history of economics,” one reviewer wrote, adding that “the argument is crystal clear and largely persuasive.” A second observed that “the reason neoclassical economists like Lakatos so much is that his philosophy is intended fundamentally to explain the evolution of physics,” since “neoclassical economics wants desperately to be a social physics.” Fisher remembered from the first day that Barack “recognized he was in a playground for ideas,” one where he could exercise “his love for intellectual argument.” It was a passion that Rob shared, and from that day forward the somewhat unlikely duo would become an inseparable pair whom scores of classmates recall as the closest of friends. Barack remembered his initial experience of Harvard Law School similarly. “I was excited about it. Here was an opportunity for me to read and reflect and study for as much as I wanted. That was my job,” and a much easier one than what he had confronted at the Developing Communities Project. “When I went back to law school, the idea of reading a book didn’t seem particularly tough to me.” The four fall 1L courses gave Barack some large books to read, and he needed to read them with painstaking care. In Contracts, Professor Ian Macneil, a 1955 Harvard Law School graduate who was visiting for the year from Northwestern University, had assigned his own Contracts: Exchange Transactions and Relations, 2nd ed., which was more than thirteen hundred pages long. In Civil Procedure, the text for the year, Richard H. Field et al.’s Materials for a Basic Course in Civil Procedure, 5th ed., came in slightly shorter, at 1,275 pages. Section III’s fall semester of Civ Pro was taught by Professor David L. Shapiro, a 1957 summa cum laude Harvard Law graduate and former Supreme Court clerk, but in December Shapiro would become deputy solicitor general of the United States, and the course would be taken over for the spring semester by Stephen N. Subrin, a visiting professor from Northeastern University Law School. In Criminal Law, Professor Richard D. Parker, a 1970 Harvard Law graduate and another former Supreme Court clerk, assigned Paul H. Robinson’s brand-new Fundamentals of Criminal Law, a mere 1,090 pages. And in Torts, Professor David Rosenberg, a 1967 graduate of NYU’s law school who had taught at Harvard since 1979, would use Page Keeton et al.’s Cases and Materials on Tort and Accident Law, which at 1,360 pages was the bulkiest of the four. After the long Labor Day weekend, 1L classes commenced on Tuesday morning, September 6. For Section III, their first class session was Contracts with Ian Macneil, whom the members of Barack’s O Group had already met for a brown-bag lunch in his role as their faculty mentor. Since Macneil was almost as new to Harvard as they were, the assignment had little practical value, but the Scottish Macneil—in private life he was the eminent forty-sixth chief of Clan Macneil—seemed like a nice man. But in the classroom, Macneil’s use of the traditional Socratic method brought out an utterly different personal demeanor. Most members of Section III would remember their first class at Harvard Law School for the rest of their lives. They had been informed five days earlier, in the semester’s initial number of the weekly, mimeographed HLS Adviser newsletter, by both Macneil and David Shapiro, what to read in advance of Tuesday’s classes. Macneil’s reading included the preface to his casebook, in which he repeatedly used the Latin abbreviation “e.g.” and also stated his somewhat iconoclastic definition of the course’s core concept: “contract encompasses all human activities in which economic exchange is a significant factor—marriage as much as sales of goods.” That highly inclusive definition distinguished his text from others. “Thus the range of activities treated goes beyond those traditionally associated with the doctrinally structured first year contracts course.” Organized with an eye toward “functional patterns, rather than doctrinally,” the book “focuses on the negotiational and remedial processes that continuing exchange relationships generate.” Ian Macneil began Tuesday’s 9:00 A.M. class by telling Section III’s 140 students that no matter where they had gone to college, no undergraduate education had taught them to read as carefully as they would have to in order to succeed at Harvard Law School. “For example, I bet you don’t know what the difference between i.e. and e.g. is,” he remarked while glancing at his seating chart and randomly calling upon Alicia Rubin, a 1987 graduate of Harvard College. Rubin knew enough Latin to nail the answer cold: “i.e. stands for id est, that is, and e.g. is exempli gratia, for example,” she replied. “That really ticked him off,” she recalled, because Macneil had not anticipated an immediate correct response. “Well, Miss Rubin,” he said, “let’s see if you’ve done the reading for today. Can you define a contract?” Rubin “had not even bought my books yet,” and “so I fumbled around” trying to answer. Seated next to her was Michelle Jacobs, a 1988 Harvard College graduate who quickly realized that John Houseman’s fictional contracts professor in the 1973 film The Paper Chase was, at least in Ian Macneil’s classroom, no Hollywood exaggeration. “Oh my god! It really does happen!” Jacobs remembered thinking. Jacobs knew that Macneil “had this bizarre definition of contract that was in our reading,” and “I had written it down, and I kept trying to give it to her,” but Rubin was focused only on Macneil. “Then he said something to the effect of ‘Don’t embarrass yourself further. Please leave the room, do the reading you were supposed to do, and then come back and see if you can take a better stab at it.’ ” David Attisani, a 1987 graduate of Williams College, watched the exchange and thought it “idiotic.” So did Eric Collins, the African American Princeton graduate who was in Obama’s O Group. He recalls thinking that “if this is how law school is, I’ve made a mistake.” Rubin said she rose, “borrowed somebody else’s textbook,” and headed for the door. Richard Cloobeck also remembered the scene. “It was a very, very powerful moment, and he was such an asshole.” In the hallway, Rubin read through the preface of Macneil’s casebook. “It seemed like an eternity, but it probably was only ten or fifteen minutes.” She went “back into the room,” and “then he calls on me again.” Rubin tried “to stumble through some kind of response,” but Macneil “picked me apart again.” She felt “absolutely mortified and miserable,” but finally the class ended. “It was just a horrible first day of class,” Rubin recalled, but a few minutes later, in a nearby hallway, an older student she did not know came up to her. “He put his hand on my shoulder and was like ‘You know, you did a really nice job.’ ” He introduced himself as Barack Obama. “He was giving me this little pep talk,” and Ali Rubin was hugely appreciative. Barack’s comments were “really nice.” David Shapiro’s first session of Civ Pro featured a discussion of Goldberg v. Kelly, a 1970 U.S. Supreme Court decision protecting the due process rights of welfare recipients. Richard Parker’s Crim Law and David Rosenberg’s Torts also started the semester without incident, but each morning Section III’s Contracts class met with Macneil, the room was riven with tension as the students waited to see whom he would call upon next. “If someone’s terrified, they’re not learning very well,” recounts Amy Christian, a magna cum laude 1988 graduate of Georgetown University who later became a law professor herself. She “couldn’t stand” Macneil’s classroom style, and most of her classmates soon felt likewise. Making things worse, Macneil demanded that students initial an attendance roster each morning to demonstrate who was present. American Bar Association accreditation standards for law schools mandated that students actually attend most of their classes, but in 1988 the majority of law professors, at Harvard and elsewhere, paid little attention to this requirement. Macneil’s policy, followed by angry warnings when it was discovered that some people were signing in for absent classmates, roiled Section III even further. “People felt it was juvenile,” Lisa Hay, a 1985 summa cum laude Yale graduate, recalled. The practice was “really juvenile for a professional school,” agreed Martin Siegel, a 1988 highest honors graduate of the University of Texas. “Relations between Macneil and the class broke down very severely very quickly,” Mark Kozlowski explained. In class Macneil came across as “a very angry person,” remembered Morris Ratner, who had just graduated with distinction from Stanford. The “toxic atmosphere” made the course “a disaster,” the exact same word that David Troutt, a biracial African American 1986 graduate of Stanford, used when recalling the day Macneil “cursed at me.” Aside from Macneil’s attendance policy, there was also the burden of “how demanding he was in terms of the volume of material that you had to cover and also because of how ruthless and unforgiving he was of people who weren’t prepared,” explained Paolo Di Rosa, a 1987 magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College. “He really humiliated people who weren’t prepared.” Michelle Jacobs came to believe that Macneil “liked humiliating people.” Jennifer Radding remembered the day Macneil called on her about secured transactions. “I’ll never forget it—obviously I’m still traumatized all these years later,” she joked equivocally. Greg Sater, like Ratner a 1988 Stanford graduate with distinction, felt Macneil was “really verbally abusive to people,” and Sarah Leah Whitson found him “so angry and critical and disparaging of students.” Di Rosa used the same adjective as Sater—“abusive”—to characterize Macneil, who was “just a monster,” and Di Rosa agreed with Amy Christian that the result was “more fear than respect.” Rob Fisher was the only student who had spent six years at the front of a college classroom, but he fully shared his classmates’ view that Macneil was “a horrible professor” and Contracts “was the most painful course.” Fisher and Mark Kozlowski, also older, both quickly grasped that Macneil’s idiosyncratic approach was profoundly simplistic. “He had one idea,” Fisher recalled, “that contracts are relationships.” Kozlowski was even more dismissive, viewing Macneil’s focus as “a pointless effort to apply absolutely standard social science rhetoric to contracts.” Even worse, “he spent a lot of time on his theory and not a great deal of time on learning contracts,” which quickly led many in Section III to believe they were being shortchanged relative to friends in other sections. “There was a sense that Section III was not learning contracts at the same level as the other students and learning the doctrine,” recalled Tim Driscoll, a 1988 summa cum laude graduate of Hofstra University. “People just really thought that they were not learning contracts law, and they were getting cheated,” agreed Gina Torielli, an older student who had graduated from Michigan State with high honors. Jackie Fuchs, a 1988 summa cum laude graduate of UCLA who before college played bass guitar alongside Joan Jett in the Runaways, agreed that Macneil was “very hard to get along with,” but she felt he simply “did not know how to relate to people in their twenties.” Kozlowski was less charitable. Not only was Macneil “extremely antagonistic in class,” he repeatedly “would simply insult people to their face,” and not just young women like Ali Rubin. Mark remembered a conservative white male politely saying he did not understand a question, yet Macneil responded, “It’s a point that would be obvious to any intelligent person. It’s not obvious to you.” Shannon Schmoyer, who had graduated summa cum laude and first in her 1987 class at the University of Oklahoma, summed up Section III’s view of Ian Macneil: “he was an embarrassment to Harvard Law School.” Not all of Barack’s time and energy during the fall semester’s first weeks were devoted to his casebooks and class time. The law school’s Hemenway gym was indisputably a dump—a word that a dozen alumni used for the facility—but its convenient location made finding pickup basketball games easy, as long as yoga classes or volleyball matches were not taking place. Only a few hours after reassuring Ali Rubin how well she had coped with Macneil’s onslaught, Barack late that afternoon went to Hemenway and found a group that included twenty-two-year-old African American 1L Frank Harper, a magna cum laude graduate of Brown University, and four African American 2Ls: Kevin Little, Leon Bechet, Frank Cooper, and Kenny Smith. African American 1L David Hill, a 1986 high honors graduate of Wesleyan University, soon joined the regular late-afternoon mix. When a student intramurals league got started shortly into the semester, a half-dozen of the black Hemenway regulars, including Barack, came together briefly on a team they called BOAM: Brothers on a Mission. “We weren’t very good,” remembered Kevin Little, perhaps HLS’s top basketball devotee. All during that 1L year, Barack spent a good deal of time on the basketball court, but “he didn’t want to hang out afterwards,” Leon Bechet recalled. “It seemed like he always had a schedule … like he had a mission and he had a purpose.” With the 1991, 1990, and 1989 classes together, Harvard had more than 150 black law students on campus that fall, and the BLSA chapter seemed to have as much energy as their 1988 graduating class. BLSA scheduled its own orientation event for 1Ls soon after their arrival on campus. David Hill remembered how “Barack is holding court” and other new students “thought he was not a 1L” as they listened to him. “People were very surprised that this guy was a 1L simply because of how he was handling himself.” An evening or two earlier, standing in the checkout line at the Star Market in Porter Square, just up from the law school, Barack had introduced himself to an African American woman he recognized from the first day’s financial aid orientation session. “I think we’re both at Harvard,” he said to Cassandra “Sandy” Butts, a 1987 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Butts was in Section I, but “we certainly bonded over some of our challenges in the financial aid office,” and she, like Rob Fisher, became a close friend of Barack’s in their first days at Harvard. Butts was with Obama and David Hill at that BLSA gathering when 3L Sheryll Cashin approached. Cashin too recalled other students listening as Barack spoke. “Within a couple of minutes, all of the people around were just hanging on his every word.” Barack was “dressed kind of shabbily,” and “I remember him talking about community organizing.” Also listening was one of the youngest 1Ls, Christine Lee, a 1988 Oberlin College graduate who was still a few days shy of her twenty-first birthday. Lee had spent her early childhood in Paris, but when she was ten, her white mother left her alcoholic African American father and took her to live in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, where she grew up as the black daughter of a white single mother. From Christine’s youthful perspective, Barack sounded “kind of full of himself,” because “he acted like he’d come from a whole life of work in the trenches rather than just a little stint after college.” Barack “seemed pretentious,” and “I immediately did not like him.” Barack remembered listening to and first meeting Derrick Bell at that BLSA orientation, but he was not immediately drawn to any of the five African American men on the law faculty. Even though Charles Ogletree was an untenured visiting professor, the 1978 Harvard Law graduate was an enthusiastic cheerleader for the school’s black law students, and by mid-September, Ogletree had begun convening the first of four fall semester “Saturday School” sessions during which he hoped to reassure black 1Ls that they should not allow self-doubts to prevent them from succeeding at Harvard Law School. Derrick Bell and David Wilkins joined Ogletree, as did Charles Nesson, a white 1963 summa cum laude Harvard Law graduate who had worked in the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division before joining the Harvard faculty. Ogletree was at pains to stress that the Saturday-morning sessions were “not a remedial course,” and BLSA leaders, like Ogletree, used the gatherings to encourage black 1Ls to become active in and seek out leadership roles in a variety of student organizations. About forty students attended the initial meeting, and Obama’s black classmates remember that he rarely if ever attended “Saturday School.” By mid-September, something else occurred in Barack’s life that he did not mention to any of his new law school friends. Sheila Jager was staying with him at his Somerville apartment. Her Fulbright fellowship was for her to spend twelve months doing her dissertation fieldwork at Seoul National University in South Korea. After Barack left for Harvard, Sheila had intended to leave Chicago in mid-September and go to Seoul. But Barack wrote to her soon after his arrival in Cambridge, and after some phone calls, Sheila agreed to fly to Boston before going to South Korea. “Why did I end up with him for a month in his Somerville apartment before leaving for Korea?” Sheila asked herself after recounting how she had refused to accompany Barack to Harvard. “I never said that I wouldn’t visit him,” she remembered, and she also recalled how her parents, who were then in Japan, were “really angry with me” when they learned she was staying with Barack and would not arrive in Seoul until after they had left the Far East. Barack and Sheila’s weeks together in the private basement apartment became a replay of their final months in Chicago before Barack’s trip to Europe and Kenya. “I felt smothered by Barack, by his neediness to be the center of my world, by his sheer overpowering presence, and by the isolation I felt because we were always alone,” Sheila recalled. Barack recounted what he most liked about his new life as a law student. “I do remember Barack telling me about Rob, although we never met. He described him, as I recall, as ‘a bear of a man’ and talked about him with great warmth, as a kind of older brother…. He said the two of them were the smartest people in their class at Harvard and ran rings around everybody else.” Many of Rob and Barack’s Section III colleagues were coming to share that characterization as the fall semester progressed, but after a month in Barack’s apartment, Sheila was indeed ready to leave for Korea. “He was like a huge flame that sucked up all the oxygen, and toward the end of our relationship, I felt breathless, exhausted really. I remember getting off the plane in Seoul and feeling like I could breathe again.” Deep down, Sheila’s feelings for Barack remained the same as in Chicago. “I knew at that point that the relationship could not work in the long term even though I loved him very deeply. He, of course, realized this as well. When I left for Korea, I felt as if I had abandoned him, although the split was completely mutual.” But even when Barack drove Sheila to Logan Airport, their relationship had not seen its true end. As September turned to October for the 1L students in Section III, their distaste for Ian Macneil gave way to gallows humor as they realized they could do nothing to alter their fate. The section took on the mordant nickname of “the Gulag.” Lisa Hay, who had worked for Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis’s campaign before beginning her 1L year, began anonymously producing a weekly mimeographed newsletter chronicling life in Section III entitled Three Speech. It recorded odd or humorous statements from their reading and from classroom comments. Macneil, of course, was a prime target. One headline was: “You Make the Call: Fact? or Fiction?,” followed by a quotation from Macneil’s Contracts casebook: “Habit, custom and education develop a sense of obligation to preserve one’s credit rating not altogether different from that Victorian maidens felt respecting their virginity.” Hay quoted Macneil’s maladroit attempts at classroom humor that often backfired. For example: “The sexual relation is a good one for you to think about—in the context of this course, I mean.” Or when Macneil asked, “Give me an example of a voluntary exchange,” Richard Cloobeck, one of Section III’s best provocateurs, volunteered, “Having sex with your girlfriend,” to which Macneil replied, “Give me an easier one.” The next week, when the concept of inadequacy arose, Macneil bluntly asked one student, “Does your girlfriend ever say you are inadequate?” and a few days later, he insultingly told another, “Maybe you don’t have the skills to be a law student.” When Hay crafted a top-ten list of reasons for not doing Macneil’s assigned readings, entries included “slept through class,” “was laughing too hard at footnotes to read the text,” and a joke about Macneil’s almost daily references to the Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Most pointed of all was “Proportionality: Contracts homework out of proportion with length and value of class.” In October, Hay reported a joking exchange between two classmates: “ ‘If I learned I only had a week to live, I’d want to spend all my time with Macneil.’ ‘Why’s that?’ ‘Because he makes every minute seem like a year!’ ” With the November presidential election, pitting Massachusetts governor Dukakis against the Republican nominee, Vice President George Bush, drawing near, Barack registered to vote on October 4. Starting the next day, he also began racking up a remarkable run of thirteen parking tickets over the next four weeks on his rusty yellow Toyota, with most of them happening on Mass Avenue just west of the law school. On campus, student politics were roiled when the conservative Federalist Society chapter objected to the student government’s reserving two committee seats for the Coalition for Diversity. Jesse Jackson addressed a pro-diversity rally of twelve hundred people, and Derrick Bell renewed his calls for greater minority representation on the law faculty. David Shapiro’s Civ Pro course was Section III’s most vanilla class, but most students thought Shapiro was an excellent, witty teacher. Classmates and Shapiro recall Obama speaking only irregularly in Civ Pro, but they do remember him as one of the most talkative voices in Richard Parker’s Crim Law classroom. Parker had “a class discussion” style that stood in contrast to Macneil’s classic Socratic method, recalls Kenneth Mack, one of Section III’s other African American men. Mack thought Barack was a standout presence from the first week of class. “He was a striking figure,” Mack said. “He spoke very well, and very eloquently,” and seemed “older and wiser than the three years that separated our birth dates…. It seemed like I was twenty-four, and Barack was thirty-four,” like Rob Fisher. “He and Rob seemed like they were the same age.” Shannon Schmoyer agreed: Barack “just seemed so much more mature” than most other 1Ls. Parker was an entertaining teacher, and having Peter Larrowe, a former police officer, in the class sometimes added a bracing dose of reality to discussions. Several students recalled Parker saying, “If you’re going to a protest, always take your toothbrush,” and Lisa Hay’s Three Speech recorded one exchange after Larrowe mentioned his background to Parker: “ ‘Does everyone know that you were a police officer?’ ‘They do now…. No more undercover work,’ ” Larrowe joked. Fisher also vividly remembered Parker querying students about their own experiences with police officers and one attractive woman describing how she was patted down outside a bar. “How did that make you feel?” Parker asked. “Oh, it was kind of nice,” she replied as the entire class erupted in laughter. Sarah Leah Whitson remembered Obama once making some real-world rather than doctrinal point in a colloquy with Parker, and Richard Cloobeck recalled a similar scene where Barack “spoke from the black perspective in Crim class because something had happened to him where he’d experienced racial discrimination in profiling, and it was very personal.” Sherry Colb, valedictorian of Columbia’s 1988 graduating class and Section III’s most loquacious female voice, remembered that when the subject of acquaintance rape came up in class, Barack expressed displeasure with what others had said. “ ‘I don’t even understand why we’re debating this. Why is silence enough? Why aren’t people looking for “yes”?’ ” Sherry recalled Barack asking. “I think the women in the class really appreciated that because there were other males in the class who took a more reactionary position.” Sima Sarrafan, an Iranian American honors graduate of Vassar College, realized that Obama “had a more pragmatic view of the law” than most classmates or professors. Roger Boord, a 1988 magna cum laude graduate of the University of Virginia, remembered Barack as “this voice of authority … his voice was like Walter Cronkite.” But especially in Parker’s class, Barack, David Troutt, and Sherry Colb spoke up so regularly that it generated irritation and derision from some fellow students. Most Section III students spoke only when asked to. “The last thing I ever wanted would be to be called upon,” Greg Sater explained. “Most of my friends were the same way, and we would never in a million years ever raise our hand.” In stark contrast, Section III’s most self-confident voices, or “gunners,” in longtime law student parlance, raised their hands almost every day in participatory classes like Richard Parker’s. Dozens of Obama’s classmates remember him consistently waiting until a discussion’s latter part before he chimed in, with comments that he thought synthesized what others had said. “He never really took a very strong, argumentative position,” Ali Rubin recalled. Dozens laughingly recalled his insistent usage of the word “folks” as well as his regular introductory refrain of “It’s my sense” or “My sense is,” phrases that DCP members remembered hearing regularly during his time in Chicago. Barack “particularly loved to engage with Professor Parker,” Haverford College graduate Lisa Paget recalled. She has a “vivid” memory of Barack remarking, “Professor Parker, I think what the folks here are trying to say is” so as “to synthesize what other people were saying.” Barack “clearly liked to speak,” but “sometimes people got frustrated because they didn’t feel like they needed him” to speak for them. “ ‘Say what your own thinking is, don’t tell him what we’re thinking!’ ” Decades later, particularly for classmates who had become jurists or prominent attorneys, recollections of just how intensely irritating Obama’s classroom performance had been were burnished with good humor. But even though he was always prepared, always articulate, and always on target, many fellow students tired of Obama’s need to orate. Barack “spoke in complete paragraphs,” Jennifer Radding recalled, but “he often got hissed by us because sometimes we would all make comments” and then “he would raise his hand and say ‘I think what my colleagues are trying to say if I might sum up,’ and we’d be like ‘We can speak for ourselves—shut the fuck up!’ ” Radding thought Obama was “a formal person, reserved” but “always friendly.” Yet “I’m not sure he related to women as well on a colleague basis” as he did with older male friends like Rob, Mark Kozlowski, and Dan Rabinovitz, a former community organizer interested in politics. Jennifer remembered Barack asking Rob and Dan substantive questions, and “then he’d ask me did I party over the weekend.” One day “I called him on it, and I just said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. You’re someone who’s so liberal, and so women’s rights, and you talk to women like they’re not on the same level.’ It horrified him to hear that,” and “I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.” The joking about Obama’s classroom performance intensified as the fall semester progressed. One classmate, Jerry Sorkin, christened him “The Great Obama” because “he had kind of a superior attitude,” Sorkin’s friend David Attisani remembered. “Barack would start a lot of his speeches with the words ‘My sense is,’ and Jerry would walk around kind of stroking his chin saying ‘My sense is.’ ” Gina Torielli recalled that when Obama or especially Sherry Colb raised their hands to speak, more than a few of the younger men would “take out their watches to start timing how long” they talked. In time it became a competitive game, one played at many law schools over multiple generations, and often called “turkey bingo,” in which irritated classmates wager a few dollars on how long different gunners would exchange comments with the professor. Section III named its contest “The Obamanometer,” Greg Sater recalled, for it measured “how long he could talk.” But Sater explained how there “was a great feeling of relief to all of us whenever he would raise his hand because that would take time off the clock and would lower the chances of us being called upon.” No one questioned the value of what Barack, Sherry, or David Troutt had to say, but much of Section III got tired of hearing the same voices day after day. With Barack, Greg said, “we were envious of him in many ways because of his intellect,” self-confidence, and poise, but that did not stop the Obamanometer. “We’d kind of look at each other and tap our watch,” he recalled. “You might raise five fingers,” predicting that long a disquisition, “and then your buddy might raise seven.” Jackie Fuchs remembered the label a little differently, explaining that students would “judge how pretentious someone’s remarks are in class by how high they rank on the Obamanometer.” Criminal Law was the course in which Barack “pontificated”—as Jackie called it—the most, but the class and professor that Barack and Rob found the most intellectually stimulating was Torts, with David Rosenberg. With only one-third of Section III’s students in that subsection, it was more intimate than Contracts, Civ Pro, or Crim, and the forty-five students responded enthusiastically to Rosenberg’s high-energy, in-your-face style and tough-minded libertarian economics. Everyone remembered Rosenberg’s invitation to a 6:30 A.M. law library tour, when he would discuss the practicalities of thorough legal research. Amy Christian, Richard Cloobeck, Diana Derycz, and Barack were among the half dozen or so students who showed up, and Three Speech recounted Rosenberg insisting during it, “I am not a masochist.” David Attisani “loved” Rosenberg’s class. “He was my most useful professor by a wide margin,” and Rosenberg also held a volleyball clinic and took a large group of students out to dinner. Richard Cloobeck agreed that Rosenberg was “the most practical and realistic and effective” of Section III’s professors. He also was often the most entertaining. Mark Kozlowski remembered Rosenberg asserting that Harvard-trained lawyers taking legal-services jobs was the equivalent of MIT engineering graduates becoming appliance repairmen. Three Speech captured an exchange in which one student asked Rosenberg if a passage in one case opinion was dicta, or beside the point; Rosenberg responded, “No! That’s crap!” Kozlowski and Cloobeck remembered how captivated Fisher and Obama were with Rosenberg, and Ali Rubin thought that “from the beginning Rosenberg treated Rob and Barack differently” than other students. Cloobeck believed Obama spoke just as much in Torts as he did in Crim, demonstrating to all how “incredibly, intensely smart and thoughtful” he was, even relative to classmates who had graduated at the top of their classes from the nation’s best colleges and universities. Obama was “intellectually curious” and “sincere in his academic passion,” Cloobeck thought, but he also seemed “extremely arrogant, very conceited.” Yet he admitted that Barack and Rob spoke “at a level that was just beyond my comprehension.” David Rosenberg remembered Barack as “one of the most serious students I’ve ever encountered.” Rosenberg’s approach to Torts involved “applying social and natural science to social problems” in a heavily economic, functionalist manner. He recalls that “Obama and Fisher were determined to figure out what was going on, absolutely determined.” The two came by his office “almost twice or three times a week, not to talk about the course in ways that would translate into a better grade, but to talk about the actual problems that I was raising and the approach.” Rob and Barack were always together—“you couldn’t separate them,” Rosenberg explains—but “they weren’t a duo in their mind-sets,” and “it didn’t seem like one was dependent on the other. They were quite independent,” and always raising “social policy questions” when they came by. Rosenberg remembered that in class, Obama “asked good questions, he fought through hard problems. I thought he was going to be a top academic.” Rob remembered that “Barack was very active” in Torts and “loved that class.” Rosenberg “met argument with argument, and valued creativity,” and “Barack and I just had a great time in that class. We were constantly arguing and talking and enjoying it and going to visit Rosenberg,” and Torts overall was “an absolute blast.” Rosenberg “had this intense intellectual passion” and a “creative style of lawyering that greatly appealed to us both.” Rob believes that “Rosenberg had a vastly bigger influence on Barack’s and my thinking about law” than their other 1L instructors combined. Four years earlier, Rosenberg had published a major article in the Harvard Law Review calling for a restructuring of tort litigation in mass exposure cases like asbestos through the courts’ use of “aggregative procedural and remedial techniques,” an argument he revisited in a shorter 1986 HLR essay. In fall 1988, Rosenberg was writing an additional commentary, calling for “collective processing” and comprehensive settlements in mass tort cases rather than “legislative insurance schemes.” He was already so impressed by Rob and Barack that he sought their input on his draft manuscript. When it was published in May 1989, the first page included thanks to Rob and Barack for their “substantive criticism and editorial advice,” a remarkable acknowledgment for a Harvard law professor to bestow upon two 1L students. Amy Christian remembered a day in Torts when “one of Barack’s two front teeth was broken diagonally so that like half the tooth was gone,” a casualty from the previous afternoon’s basketball game, he told her. “A couple of classes later he came in, and his tooth looked totally normal.” Kenny Smith, a 2L, remembered Barack as “a good player,” but two recollections of Obama from among the wider population of classmates who went up against him either in intramural matchups or the almost daily pickup games were his penchant for “trash talk” insults to opposing players and his tendency to call “baby” fouls in self-refereed games. Barack “was cocky as a basketball player, he was not as a regular person,” 1L Brad Wiegmann thought. Martin Siegel recalled “being in a game with him where he called a foul” and “he just headed to the other end of the court.” Oftentimes, “being a law school, if people called fouls there was a tendency to have that devolve into a crazy argument.” Not so with Obama. In “a sign of his status,” everyone “followed him without objection. It was as if he had said it, and therefore it was so.” Greg Sater had formed a volleyball league, and their court time was just after basketball, but the basketball players would refuse to give up the floor. “They would always give me shit,” Sater recalled, and then Barack would “sweet-talk me into giving them an extra few minutes, always.” He was “very disarming” and “very good at defusing situations and being a peacemaker.” Rob Fisher had similar memories from pickup basketball games, but they spent far more time studying than on the basketball court. The press of coursework led Barack to give up on the irregular journal he had kept ever since his first year in New York, and he and Rob often studied at his Somerville apartment rather than in Harvard’s law library. Rob remembers that Barack was very proud of “three Filipino gun cases,” big long wooden boxes he had bought to serve as bookshelves, but otherwise the “apartment was very sparse,” with “a little TV,” some “spare furniture,” and overall an “ascetic” feeling. “He and I would sit around his apartment,” Rob recalled, “and just bang ideas back and forth for hours.” Rob appreciated that Barack was “very much a synthetic thinker,” just as other classmates had sensed from his many summary expositions, and Rob realized as well that virtually everyone around them “recognized from the start” that Barack was “exceptional.” Rob understood that Barack’s time in Chicago had been “an extraordinary experience for him,” and although Rob has no memory of any such conversation, one of his closest friends vividly remembers a phone call early in Rob’s time at Harvard in which Rob said he had just met the first African American president of the United States. “Barack and I both looked at law school as an intellectual playground, a place to develop ideas, to have fun with ideas,” Rob explained. “There is no question, when he was in law school, his path in his mind was to be a politician. That is where he was going, and that was crystal clear from day one of law school,” along with definitely returning to Chicago upon graduation. During their conversations, Rob learned that “Barack recognized he had exceptional talents, and that that was a gift from God, that was something special.” Barack “felt a great moral obligation to use” his “special gifts” to “help people … and that was very palpable, very real, and very deep.” Just as Sheila Jager had heard Barack speak about his destiny, Rob too understood that Barack had a sense of himself that was rooted in his experiences in Roseland. “The way he described it to me,” Rob recalled, during “long deep conversations … he pictured an elderly African American woman sitting on a porch and just saying to him, ‘Barack, you’ve got special gifts. You need to use them for people.’ That was a very deep-seated belief. There’s no question about that,” even in the fall of 1988. Rob also knew that Barack’s identification as black “was a choice,” and that “making choices about identity did limit personal choices, and that pained him.” Barack “spent so much time together” with Cassandra “Sandy” Butts that a mutual friend explained how “everybody thought they were dating, even though I don’t think that was ever the case.” As Jackie Fuchs forthrightly put it, voicing a perception widely shared among female classmates, Barack “gave off zero sexuality…. He came off as completely asexual.” His relationship with Sandy, who was four years younger and whose parents had divorced before she was a year old, had an older brother–younger sister closeness. “When I first met Barack, I thought he was this black guy from the Midwest, and he did not volunteer his background, other than coming from Chicago,” Cassandra explained. “I didn’t know that Barack’s mother was white until a couple of weeks into knowing him. It wasn’t something that he volunteered.” Sandy was interested in Africa and had visited Zimbabwe and Botswana as an undergraduate, and only after Barack mentioned his trip to Kenya did his family story emerge: “My mother is white.” Like Rob, Sandy also soon realized that Barack’s years in Chicago had been “the most formative” of his life, and “he talked about how powerful the position of mayor of Chicago was,” just as he had told Mike Kruglik and Bruce Orenstein months earlier. Barack “certainly saw in Harold Washington a model,” one who was “incredibly influential,” and “his ambition was to eventually run for mayor.” In Cassandra’s memory there was no question Barack “wanted to be mayor of Chicago, and that was all he talked about as far as holding office…. He only talked about being mayor, because he felt that is really where you have an impact. That’s where you could really make a difference in the lives of those people he had spent those years organizing.” She remembered too that “Barack used to say that one of his favorite sayings of the civil rights movement was ‘If you cannot bear the cross, you can’t wear the crown,’ ” a rough approximation of Martin Luther King’s January 17, 1963, statement—“The cross we bear precedes the crown we wear”—that was featured in the epigraph of the King biography that had been published midway through Barack’s time in Chicago. Cassandra believed Barack’s intellectual seriousness made him “a bit of a geek in law school,” but his Chicago experiences gave him a real-world grounding most of his younger classmates lacked. She remembered a 1L discussion among black students about whether the preferred label should be “black” or “African American.” “Barack listens to all of this, and near the end … he basically makes the point that it was kind of this false choice, that whether we’re called ‘African Americans’ or ‘black,’ it really doesn’t matter, what matters is what we’re doing to help the people who are in communities that don’t have the luxury of having this debate.” Cassandra thought of Barack as “African and American,” with “a sense of direction and focus” that distinguished him. Compared to his younger classmates, Barack seemed “incredibly mature,” with a “very calm” demeanor, and Cassandra thought “Barack was as fully formed as a person could be at that point in his life.” An informal study group emerged that included David Troutt, Gina Torielli, and Barack. They met sometimes at the BLSA office or at Torielli’s apartment. On one occasion, when Barack was outside smoking, Gina worried that “my landlord was going to call the police” after seeing a black man on the front porch. On another, when everyone was saying what their dream job was, Barack “said he wanted to be governor of Illinois.” Still, most of Barack’s study time was spent with Rob, and when the law school’s 1989 Yearbook appeared some months later, an early page featured an uncaptioned photo of Barack sprawled on a couch listening as a smiling Rob spoke while holding a loose-leaf notebook. “When I think of those two that year,” Gina Torielli explained, that picture “is how I remember often finding them.” The photo captured the ring on Barack’s left index finger that he had worn ever since his first year at Oxy. Rob remembered precisely when the picture was taken. “I was explaining macroeconomics to Barack, and … we also had an extended discussion about the national debt in that session and how and whether it mattered.” It was no accident that Cassandra thought Barack something of a geek, or that virtually everyone in Section III looked up to Rob and Barack as the smartest minds in their midst. Barack was more forthcoming with Rob than with anyone else at Harvard, indeed with anyone other than Sheila and Lena. Even though Barack “never mentioned mayoral politics” and never said anything “that would suggest to me that he had his sights on mayoral politics,” it was clear “he was just extremely politically ambitious” and “wanted to go as far as he could. There was no doubt in my mind he was thinking presidency” and “he shared that with me at the time.” Obama’s classmates could see that too. We “knew he’d be in politics. That was obvious right from the start,” Sherry Colb explained, and Lisa Paget agreed that Barack “was clearly going to be a politician.” David Attisani thought that Harvard’s classrooms were “something of a rehearsal for him for public life,” that “he was getting himself ready” and seemed to be “self-consciously grooming himself for … some kind of public life.” In retrospect, Jackie Fuchs thought Barack “had already decided that he was a future president,” and wondered if his self-transformation mirrored that of her past bandmate, Joan Jett. “I’m sure Barack as a child was perfectly ordinary, just like Joan was. Until the moment he decided that he was a star.” Fuchs was not enamored of the 1988 Barack—“in law school the only thing I would have voted for Obama to do would have been to shut up”—but among the 1Ls who socialized together, David Troutt believed there was “none more careful, more guarded about his personal life than Barack.” David Attisani likewise viewed Barack as “a very private guy” who was “quite cautious about where he appeared socially.” One Thursday evening, several young members of Section III, including Scott Sherman, a 1988 highest honors graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, decided to head down to Harvard Square to drink. Seeing Obama studying nearby, Sherman invited him to join the group, but Barack demurred. “No, you young guys go on down and have fun. I have work to do here,” and Barack’s comment left Sherman “feeling like a sophomoric frat boy. He was serious” and “he was not wasting his time at the law school,” Sherman recalled. “He was there for a reason,” and there was no gainsaying the five-year age gap between Barack and most of his fellow students. Years later, classmates pictured how Barack appeared back then. “He always wore the same ugly leather jacket,” Jennifer Radding said, and everyone remembered seeing him smoking outside Harkness Commons—“the Hark”—or, during the winter, in a basement smoking room that was one of the few authorized locations after a Cambridge antismoking ordinance had taken effect eighteen months earlier. “He really did smoke a lot,” Mark Kozlowski recalled, and sometimes in the basement, Barack talked with Kenyan LL.M. student Maina Kiai, who also had arrived that fall. Kiai remembered him “always asking questions about Kenya and Africa,” and “we talked a great deal about poverty in the USA.” Diana Derycz also recalled Barack as a “big smoker” who was “outside smoking” before classes even in winter. Sarah Leah Whitson believed that by 1988 at Harvard Law smoking was a symbolically transgressive act that set one apart from the student mainstream. Rob Fisher thought that Barack “enjoyed it,” and Lisa Paget remembered that when Barack was “walking on campus in his leather jacket with his typical cigarette in his hand, he had swagger.” Barack was also among several dozen 1Ls who signed up to do scut work—“sub-citing,” as in substantive citation checking—for the Harvard Civil Rights–Civil Liberties Law Review, one of the law school’s student-run journals that welcomed 1L participation. At the end of October, Barack’s sister Maya, who was a freshman at Barnard College in Manhattan, came up for a weekend, including a Halloween-evening dinner party at Barack’s apartment for which ten or so people were encouraged to come in costume. Rob and Barack’s 1L friend Dan Rabinovitz and his buddy Thom Thacker came wearing whale outfits inspired by the freeing that week of two creatures that had been trapped in the ice off Point Barrow, Alaska. “I remember from early on thinking that Barack was the single most impressive individual I’d ever met,” Rabinovitz recalled, and that his Somerville apartment “seemed incredibly hip.” Barack had “made it a great place to live,” and his taste for Miles Davis and similar musicians was evident from “the wonderful jazz playing in the background.” Dan had also been an organizer, and he agreed with Barack “that to really deal with the fundamental issues in people’s lives, you needed to engage the political system.” Dan too remembers how Barack “made clear absolutely it was his intention to go back to Chicago and to be involved politically.” Thom Thacker vividly recalls that Halloween evening, perhaps because Barack “possessed a magnetic charm” or more likely because Maya was now “drop-dead gorgeous.” But either that evening or a few days later, Thom would recount how “I remember Dan remarking to me that he thought Barack would be president of the United States one day.” On November 8, 1988, George Bush handily defeated Michael Dukakis to keep the presidency in Republican hands. “Dukakis’s loss was a major loss, and we were feeling it,” David Troutt recalled, but Mark Kozlowski remembers David Rosenberg beginning Wednesday’s Torts class with a caustic quip about the Supreme Court aspirations of one of his favorite colleagues: “Larry Tribe can unpack!” Rosenberg’s respect and affection for Rob and Barack was now expressing itself in a different way, because when their favorite NBA team, the Chicago Bulls—“We were both big Michael Jordan fans,” Rob says—was in Boston that night to play the Celtics, Rosenberg gave them “like second row” tickets so they could watch an “awesome” 110–104 Bulls victory in which Jordan scored fifty-two points. By early November, Rob, Barack, and Mark Kozlowski had agreed to work together on the upcoming spring semester Ames Moot Court exercise, and they also enlisted Lisa Hertzer, another member of their small Legal Methods class and a 1988 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford. The Legal Methods course had proven more daunting for 3L instructor Scott Becker than for most of the 1Ls. “Barack was so far ahead of the curve intellectually,” Becker remembered, that often sessions featured the “hyper-ambitious” Obama explaining, “I think this is what Scott means by that,” although never in a way that embarrassed Becker. Barack and Rob were also beginning to think about summer jobs for 1989, and Barack wanted to return to Chicago. Barack’s old friend Beenu Mahmood, who had welcomed him there in 1985 while he was a summer associate at Sidley & Austin, was now in his third year as a lawyer in Sidley’s New York office, and “I suggested that he seriously look at Sidley,” Beenu remembers. Barack had kept in regular touch with Beenu, who believed by 1988 that “Barack was the most deliberate person I ever met in terms of constructing his own identity.” Sidley actively sought out top 1Ls, and Beenu recalls speaking with Sidley managing partner Thomas A. Cole about Barack. Well before Christmas, his résumé arrived at Sidley’s Chicago office, where 1972 Harvard Law School graduate John G. Levi oversaw the firm’s recruiting at his alma mater and 1976 Northwestern Law School graduate Geraldine Alexis headed up Sidley’s minority associate recruiting effort. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, Barack learned the surprising news in that day’s New York Times: “Albert Raby, Civil Rights Leader in Chicago with King, Dies at 55.” A memorial service at the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel attracted more than a thousand mourners, and Teresa Sarmina, one of Raby’s former spouses, spoke of how he “would get excited about a person and the potential he could see in that person.” In Cambridge, the last two weeks of fall semester classes featured a December 7 meeting with Ian Macneil that about 60 percent of Section III attended. “A wide range of complaints were voiced,” Macneil recalled, and tensions were raised further because the final exam in the yearlong course would not take place until late May. Only in their final week of classes in mid-December did Section III learn that its other exams would take place on the afternoons of Monday January 9, Wednesday the 11th, and Friday the 13th. With Civ Pro teacher David Shapiro leaving for Washington, students’ marks on the two-and-a-half-hour open-book midyear test would constitute half of their eventual grade on Harvard’s somewhat odd A+, A, A-, B+ B, B-, C-, and D eight-point scale. Shapiro posed only two essay questions of equal weight, one involving securities frau