NEW YORK – Former President Barack Obama reveals in an upcoming podcast with rocker Bruce Springsteen that he chose a career of public service in part due to his mother, an acknowledgement that lands in the middle of Women’s History Month.
“My mom was a little bit of a free thinker,” Obama says in Monday's episode of Spotify's “Renegades: Born in the USA.” The Associated Press was granted early access to a snippet.
Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, was an anthropologist who worked to help improve the lives of the poor in Indonesia. Obama called her “kind of romantic” and “not that practical” and said she put a "little bit of that into me.”
Obama tells The Boss that he was attracted to public service instead of a big salary because he recognized the American dream was not achievable for many Black citizens. “When I thought about what I should aspire to, it wasn’t, ‘Man, let me be Jay Rockefeller.’ It was, ‘Look at John Lewis.’”
Lewis, a civil rights icon, served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 17 terms representing Georgia and became the “conscience of Congress” until his death last year.
He and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were trying “to make the world better,” Obama says. “That path looked to me like it was something necessary for me to do. My salvation was there.”
The discussion was kicked off when Springsteen asks Obama, who graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, why he chose organizing when there were more lucrative doors open to him.
The episode is the fifth of the eight-episode series and titled “Every Man for Himself: Money and the American Dream.” The conversation was recorded in Springsteen's guitar-filled home studio in New Jersey. The two men talk about their humble origins, class issues and Springsteen performs his 1982 song “Atlantic City.”
The relationship between the former president and rock star began when Springsteen performed benefits for Obama during his presidential campaigns. But it has blossomed into deeper conversations since he left office, Obama said in the first episode.
In the first episode, both men recalled feeling like outsiders growing up. Later episodes explore racism, fatherhood and marriage.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits