In Chicago, there will be a groundbreaking ceremony for the Obama Presidential Center.
Former President Barack Obama’s presidential library will commence work on Tuesday, after years of opposition from neighborhood activists and park supporters in Chicago.
Some community leaders questioned Obama’s choice to build the library in the city’s Jackson Park neighborhood in 2015, fearing gentrification and the displacement of moderate- and low-income citizens.
The site is on the National Register of Historic Places, and it was rebuilt for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, causing park preservationists to complain.
After a four-year examination by the National Park Service and the Federal Highway Administration, the $500 million proposal for the Obama Presidential Center was approved in February.
EXCLUSIVE: Before the historic groundbreaking, former President @BarackObama shows @RobinRoberts a 3D model of the Obama Presidential Center. https://t.co/9uegY8Z9BL pic.twitter.com/GKbaS75N0K — September 28, 2021, Good Morning America (@GMA)
Because of the personal connection, Obama said he wanted to construct in Jackson Park, near where former first lady Michelle Obama grew up, and he wants the library to make a good difference in the neighborhood, especially for young people.
“For us to be able to develop a world-class institution that will attract millions of people and bring billions of dollars in benefits and thousands of jobs into a town that is so often forgotten,” Obama said on ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday.
The ceremony is planned to be attended by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the city’s first Black female mayor, and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday.
Obama went on to say that he thinks the library would improve the park and serve as a symbol of empowerment.
He told GMA, “Ultimately, what we want to do is empower [community members]to perform the work where they reside in their various areas.”
“And part of the purpose of the presidential center is for everybody who comes to the museum to come through and, at the end of the exhibition, we’re going to ask them, ‘How can you make a contribution?’” says the president.
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