Barack Obama is undoubtedly one of the most influential African Americans of today. Although merely a man of forty-three years, Obama has had a diverse political and legal career. The Hawaiian-born son of a Kenyan father and a white mother, Obama graduated from Columbia University to organize a public housing project on Chicago's South Side. Three years later, after graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, Obama returned to Chicago in 1992 to coordinate a massive voter registration campaign that registered more than one hundred thousand voters and helped secure the elections of former President Bill Clinton and Senator Carol Mosley Braun. Even though he was well qualified to work at large corporate firms, instead, he rejected them and fought against housing and employment discrimination at a local civil rights firm. Soon after, Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate, where he was infamous for being a steadfast liberal, supporting and authoring legislation that provided benefits for the working poor and health insurance for residents who could not afford it. During his tenure in the State Senate, Obama additionally authored a death penalty reform decree that was hailed as one of the most progressive in the country and pushed for increased funding for AIDS prevention and care programs as well. In 2004, Barack Obama's political career took an immense leap when he started his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat on the Democratic ticket, ultimately winning in a landslide victory over Republican candidate Alan Keyes. Obama is currently the only African American serving in Senate and the fifth African American to do so in history. That same year, he was selected to be the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention, an honor bestowed upon only two other African Americans in American history. For his invaluable contributions to African American and American history, it is certain that Barack Obama has made his mark on society.