Why does Barack Obama say he become a community organizer in Dreams From My Father?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The community organizing element in President Obama's life can be seen in a couple of ways as presented in the memoir.  To a certain extent, the memoir presents the need to community organize as a way to bridge the gap between theory and practice.  This aspect of "praxis" is one where Obama is able to fully understand the implications of law and social policy in the form of community organizing.  In a more psychological analysis, one can see his need to community organize in largely African- American communities as a way to fully understand his own identity.  As a person whose racial and ethnic identity becomes a major part of the narrative, the need to struggle in understanding what personal identity is, there is something quite telling in how the young Obama is able to work in these communities, recognizing a bit of his own life in the narratives of those he meets and with whom he works.  In this light, his days of community organizing not only afforded him a level of satisfaction from the political point of view, but also from a psychological or personal one, as well.