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January 30, 2014

Chicago State is the Right Place for The President Obama Library

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Written by: Hermene Hartman
USA - Politics - Barack Obama at Harvard Law School

The Presidential Library is definitely coming to Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants a unified effort instead of scattered sources going after it and we miss it. Other cities vying are Hawaii and New York. The President loves Hawaii, it is where he spent his childhood years and he lived in New York as an undergraduate. These are all the right places for sentimental reasons. The University of Illinois is in the running simply because they are on the map. They will be considered only because they are in Chicago. The Mayor is absolutely correct in insisting on a unified effort. Certainly he will be an important factor in the money raise.

Chicago is the place for the library without doubt. It is politically logical. This is where Barack Obama took political root. The South Side of Chicago is home for his wife, Michelle, and this is where he is registered to vote. Chicago is home. End of story.

Now, where should the library locate? Being considered is the old Michael Reese Hospital land on 31st Street. The land is vacant, clear and ready for construction. However, it would be a very expensive proposition. So I say no.

The University of Chicago is a good choice. It is where President and the First Lady had professional careers. The President taught Constitution Law at the University. Michelle worked at the University of Chicago Hospital, best friends Eric Whitaker has held executive position. Good friends, Valerie Jarrett and John Rogers have been board members. And the Obama girls attended Lab school. Political guru, David Axelrod is now a faculty member. Good connections. And of course, The University of Chicago has all the means in the world to raise the necessary funds to make it happen. With all of this said, it is not the best place for the library.

I hope Chicago State University receives the Obama Library. Here’s why. First of all this is the community where Obama was a “community organizer.” I think he is the only president who rose to the presidency tracked from the community. This location would give rise to the University status and stature on the world stage. The community that Obama worked for would positively change. The library could be an economic engine for the community where he served as a community organizer. Secondly, the University established a library of Black State Legislators and the President should be added to the legacy with his presidential papers. Thirdly, The Obama Library would be the first ever to be on a Black University campus. The institution would strengthen and young people of Chicago would be inspired to rise to the top and to push forward. The placement of the library on this site would be historical and inspirational. This is the hallmark of his two-term presidency. What better legacy?

The politics of the situation are clear. This will come down with the Mayor pulling for The University of Chicago and former President of the State Senate, Emile Jones pushing for Chicago State. Both voices will be heard. Both voices are strong. There would be no President Obama had it not been for the initial political skill of Senator Jones. Much will be said about the University of Chicago’s capital raise versus Chicago State University. But raising money is easily negotiated. After all the President’s library is the President’s Library.

It would be so nice to see a unified effort behind Chicago State University.

Where do you think the President’s library should be?



About the Author

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Hermene Hartman
Hermene Hartman serves as President and CEO of the Chicago-based, Hartman Publishing Group, INC. NDIGO, was founded in 1989 and is a significant voice in Chicago. Hartman provides social commentary on WVAZ's 102.7 radio Monday - Friday at 9:15 a.m. She is an author and appears as a guest on TV with commentary. Ms. Hartman is the founder of The NDIGO Foundation, a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, which began in 1995, for the sole purpose of raising funds for educational pursuits.