The Project

Obama graduated from Columbia College in 1983 and joined Business International Corporation (BIC), a publisher focused on assisting American companies operating abroad. It was a bit of a sweatshop where casual attire and low pay were the norm. Obama's job was as a copy-editor operating a Wang word processor.

BIC was not Obama's cup so he joined the agitators at The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). Created by Ralph Nader, NYPIRG is New York State's largest student-directed consumer, environmental and government reform organization, established to effect policy reforms while training students to be advocates.

Obama spent three months in Harlem, convincing minority students at City College about the importance of recycling, but then came the call from Chicago.

The Chicago Period began in 1985, when some leftists were looking for someone who could recruit in a black neighborhood in the south side of Chicago and Obama applied for the position as a community organizer for the Developing Communities Project (DCP) of the Calumet Community Religious Conference (CCRC) in Chicago. The "Project" was funded with a $25,000 grant by Bill Ayers' Woods Fund, the two lived and attended school in the same neighborhood in New York.

Obama was 24 years old, unmarried, and according to his memoir, searching for a genuine African-American community. "I came because of Harold Washington," he says. "I wanted to do community organizing and I couldn't think of a better city than one as energized and hopeful as Chicago was then."

Stories have varied wildly. Jerry Kellman, who hired him and a strong supporter, says it was "$10,000 a year and a $2,000 car allowance." Obama himself has given different numbers. In "Dreams..." he writes $10,000 (as well as the car), in his "Wesleyan speech, he gave it as "$12,000 a year plus $2,000 for an old, beat-up car" and when he announced his candidacy for president, it was "a group of churches had offered me a job as a community organizer for $13,000 a year."

Both the CCRC and the DCP, which was part of the Gamaliel Foundation network, one of the least known yet most influential national umbrella groups for church-based "community organizers" were built on the Alinsky model of community agitation, wherein paid organizers learned how to, in Alinsky's words, "rub raw the sores of discontent."

Alinsky viewed as supremely important the role of the organizer, or master manipulator, whose guidance was responsible for setting the agendas of the People’s Organization. "The organizer," Alinsky wrote, "is in a true sense reaching for the highest level for which man can reach -- to create, to be a 'great creator,' to play God."

One of Obama's early mentors in the Alinsky method was Mike Kruglik, who had this to say to an interviewer of The New Republic, about Obama:

"He was a natural, the undisputed master of agitation, who could engage a room full of recruiting targets in a rapid-fire Socratic dialogue, nudging them to admit that they were not living up to their own standards. As with the panhandler, he could be aggressive and confrontational. With probing, sometimes personal questions, he would pinpoint the source of pain in their lives, tearing down their egos just enough before dangling a carrot of hope that they could make things better."

The agitator's job, according to Alinsky, is first to bring folks to the "realization" that they are indeed miserable, that their misery is the fault of unresponsive governments or greedy corporations, then help them to bond together to demand what they deserve, and to make such an almighty stink that the dastardly governments and corporations will see imminent "self-interest" in granting whatever it is that will cause the harassment to cease.

In these methods, euphemistically labeled "community organizing," Obama had a four-year education, which he often says was the best education he ever got anywhere.

For three years Barack Obama was the director of Developing Communities Project, an institutionally based community organization on Chicago’s far south side. He has also been a consultant and instructor for the Gamaliel Foundation, an organizing institute working throughout the Midwest.