Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States
Courtesy of AP Images.
In 1997 Obama ran for and won a seat in the Illinois State Senate representing the 13th district. After several years in the Illinois State Senate, Obama decided to run for the U.S. Senate. On 2 November 2004 he defeated the Republican candidate Alan Keyes and became the fifth African American elected to the Senate. That year Obama was chosen to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. On 27 July 2004 he delivered a seventeen-minute speech that most people credit for bringing Obama to national attention, turning him into a viable candidate for future higher office.