For years, Barack Obama was simply an affable guy called "Barry." "When Sen. Barack Obama moved from using the name Barry to Barack, his formal name, it was part of his almost lifelong quest for identity and belonging-to figure out who he is, and how he fits into the larger American tapestry. Part black, part white, raised in Hawaii and Indonesia, with family of different religious and spiritual backgrounds-seen by others in ways he didn't see himself-the young Barry was looking for solid ground. At Occidental College, he was feeling like he was at a 'dead end'... 'that somehow I needed to connect with something bigger than myself.'"
"The name Barack tied him more firmly to his black African father, who had left him and his white mother at a young age and later returned home to Kenya. But that wasn't the primary motivation... It happened in a period when he was at Occidental College in California and heading to New York, to finish college at Columbia. He was trying to reinvent himself. 'It was when I made a conscious decision: I want to grow up.'"
According to a college pal of Barry/Barack: "It wasn't surprising to me that he decided to embrace that identity because ‘Barry' could be perceived as trying to run away from something and trying to fit in, rather than embracing his own identity and, in many ways, kind of opening himself to who he is." However. "[E]ven before he became Barack, most friends simply called him 'Obama.'" Then what the hell was all the fuss about? [Newsweek]