Why did Obama make the conscious decision to take on his formal African name? His father was also Barack, and also Barry: he chose the nickname when he came to America from Kenya on a scholarship in 1959. His was a typical immigrant transition. Just as a Dutch woman named Hanneke might become Johanna, or a German named Matthias becomes Matt, the elder Barack wanted to fit in. America was a melting pot, and it was expected then that you melt–or at least smooth some of your more foreign edges.
But Obama, after years of trying to fit in himself, decided to reverse that process. The choice is 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, he was feeling as if he was at a "dead end," he tells NEWSWEEK, "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.
When Barry Became Barack - Newsweek
So what was his primary motivation? See if you can figure it out from the rest of the article.
Here is my take: Barack Hussein Obama no longer wanted to fit in as his father did. The name "Barry" was too American. He wanted to accentuate his "blackness", his "African heritage". "Something bigger than himself" could have been America, the Great Nation, beacon of democracy and freedom in the world. He could have gone a few steps farther than "fitting in" and become a true American who loves and appreciates the opportunity this country gave his father and himself. He could have been the champion of the ideals the United States stands for. No! He chose to un-Americanize himself. No wonder he associated himself with people like Rev. Wright and terrorist Ayers. It is not hard to understand this privileged but misinformed or brain-washed young man's search for identity will lead him to Rev. Wright and terrorist Ayers. The hard question to answer is: "Why does he want to be the President of The United States?"