“On this historic day, the Harvard Law School community is proud of its extraordinary alumnus, President-elect Barack Obama ’91,” said HLS Dean Elena Kagan ’86. “We feel privileged that this law school played a part in his life, and we look forward to his fulfilling all the potential for greatness that so many here saw even when he was a student. We also salute Michelle Robinson Obama ’88 for her significant role in this campaign and for the talent and grace she will bring to her position as First Lady.”
Obama arrived at the law school in 1988 at the age of 28, after several years as a community organizer in Chicago. Two years later, he made history at HLS when he was elected the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. After law school, he returned to Chicago to practice as a civil rights lawyer and to teach constitutional law at the University of Chicago. He was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996. In 2004, he was elected to the U.S. Senate.
Since law school, Obama has stayed connected to many of his former professors and classmates, many of whom have supported and advised him in his political rise from state senator to President-elect of the United States.
Click on the links below for reaction and recollections of those who taught or studied with Barack and Michelle Obama at HLS, and for coverage of other election highlights.
Watch a BBC news clip on Obama’s HLS roots HERE.
It was as a law student that Obama first made history—and national headlines—when he was elected the first black president of the Harvard Law Review in the spring of 1990.
HLS faculty comment on Obama victory
Several members of the Harvard Law School faculty knew both Barack and Michelle Obama during their time as students, and have stayed in touch with them over the years. Here, some of them reach to the election.
Obama talks about Katrina’s aftermath at 2005 Celebration of Black Alumni
The star of the weekend‹who sold out the Sept. 17 Harvard Law School Association Award Luncheon and attracted crowds of students and others outside the entrance to the Holmes Field tent‹was U.S. Sen. Barack H. Obama ¹91. Obama, the first black president of the Law Review, received the HLSA Award for his commitment to public service, an honor traditionally bestowed decades after graduation.
Michelle Obama’s commitment to public service began at HLS
If anyone asked Professor Charles Ogletree Jr. 20 years ago which member of the Obama family would wind up in national politics, he would have picked Michelle.
Rutherford B. Hayes, Harvard Law School class of 1845, was the first and only other HLS alum to be elected president of the United States.