After 5 years, Obamas innovates on the presidential library in Chicago | national news


Former President Barack Obama, left, and former First Lady Michelle Obama throw dirt in a groundbreaking ceremony at the Obama Presidential Center on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 in Chicago. (AP Photo / Charles Rex Arbogast)

Charles Rex Arbogast

CHICAGO (AP) – After five years of legal battles, gentrification issues and a federal review, Barack and Michelle Obama dug shovels in the ground Tuesday during a groundbreaking ceremony for their legacy project in a park by the lake of Chicago.

Construction of the Obama Presidential Center along Lake Michigan, near the Obama family home and where the former president began his political career on Chicago’s South Side, officially began last month.

Standing near an excavator and other heavy equipment, Obama described how the city’s South Side shaped him, first as a community organizer, then as a husband, father, and elected official. He said the center was a way to give back and that he hoped it would provide an economic boost to the region and inspire a future generation of leaders.

“We want this center to be more than a static museum or a source of archival research. It won’t just be a collection of campaign memorabilia or Michelle’s ball gowns, although I know everyone will come. see them, ”he joked. “It won’t be just an exercise in nostalgia or looking back. We want to look ahead.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and several city aldermen were among the few who were allowed to attend the event, which was broadcast online to limit crowds amid the pandemic of COVID-19.

The Presidential Center will span 19 acres (7.7 hectares) of the 540 acres (291 hectares) of Jackson Park, named after the country’s seventh president, Andrew Jackson.

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