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'85 Letter from Obama describes his new home - Chicago

The Oct. 9 edition of PBS’ Frontline will present dual biographies of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney as part of the leadup to the presidential election. This week the program has been releasing bits of memorabilia to its site showing off some of the content that will be showcased in The Choice 2012.

On Thursday, this letter written by President Obama in 1985 after he first moved to Chicago to work as a community organizer is highlighted.

Sarah Childress writes about the letter, sent to his college friend, Phil Boerner, which talks about Obama’s new city and the sense of black community he found here:

“I think the history that Chicago has with its black neighborhoods and its civil rights history was probably an attraction for him at that point,” Boerner recalled. “…[H]e wanted to be in a large city with a strong black neighborhood and a strong black history that he could merge himself into, and be a part of.”

From Chicago, Obama kept in touch with Boerner by mail. In this letter, Obama is still very much the writer, scribbling eloquent descriptions of his new hometown on yellow legal paper, and enclosing a short story — now lost to time — that he asked Boerner to critique.

Obama notes in the letter that racial divisions are more intense in Chicago, “separate and unequal,” he writes, describing a gap he would later work hard to bridge.

Here’s the trailer for The Choice 2012:

Watch “The Choice 2012” Trailer on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.