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New Artifacts Emerge Of Obama In The '80s

See photos from Obama's time at Occidental College, where he delivered his first public speech. Plus, a scanned letter describing Chicago in 1985.

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This photo, published on the New Yorker's website Wednesday, was taken by Occidental College student Tom Grauman. President Obama attended Occidental from 1979 to 1981, before transferring to Columbia University.

Tom Grauman / Via

A February 1981 rally protesting the school's investment in businesses working in apartheid South Africa. Barack Obama (pictured on the right, next to the speaker) delivered his first public speech here.

In this 1985 letter — its image published Wednesday by PBS — Obama, two years out of college, describes Chicago with fondness, despite it being "a big city with big city problems."

"Chicago — a handsome town, wide streets, lush parks, broad, lovingly crafted buildings, Lake Michigan forming its whole East side, as big and mutable as an ocean."

Text from the letter has appeared in David Remnick's and David Maraniss's respective books on Obama.

Jessica Testa is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Jessica Testa at

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