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The Obama Presidential Library: A legacy for Chicago. At U of Chicago?


What is certain about the presidency of Barack Obama--whether one term or two--is that there will be an Obama presidential library some place in the United States. Given that Chicago is Obama's adopted home town, where First Lady Michelle was born and the city where he launched his political career, it is hard to imagine that the library won't be in Chicago.

And it is also hard to imagine that the University of Chicago won't be interested in being the major academic institution affiliated with the library or having the presidential library near the U of C campus in Hyde Park.

Both President Obama and First Lady Michelle--as well as many in their inner circle--have ties to the University of Chicago. Obama taught at the law school and Mrs. Obama was an executive at the Medical Center and at the university. Daughters Malia and Sasha attended the U of C Lab School before moving to Washington.

The U of C, however, even with all its connections in the Obama White House--Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett was on the U of C board--is nervous about any talk this early on about an Obama presidential library.

Here's a U of C statement the school sent around last week:

"The University of Chicago was fortunate to have President Obama on its Law School faculty for 12 years and to benefit from Mrs. Obama's leadership in several senior administrative roles. We are proud of that connection and look forward to a continuing relationship in the future.

"Decisions about a presidential library are made by the President, typically toward the end of his term in office. Right now, the appropriate course for the University is to better understand the history and structure of the federal government's modern-era presidential libraries, and how they benefit scholarship, their communities and the nation. Until the President wishes to address this issue, more specific questions are premature."

Bloomberg's John McCormick's Monday story about the prospects of an Obama library in Chicago is here.


I would hope that the Obama Presidential Library be built on the former location of United States Steel South Works in South Chicago. This location, vacant since 1979, would bring needed work and development to the area that Barack Obama worked with as a community organizer.

The Presidential Library should be built under the auspices of Chicago State University, which has long been associated with retired State Senate President and State Senator Obama's political mentor, Emil Jones.

One of the missions that the Obama Library could address is the on-going controversy between the Hyde Park activists and the Chicago Park District that State Senator Obama promised to mediate in 2001. We, in Hyde Park, are still awaiting the outcome of that mediation attempt.

Regarding my earlier post.

The controversy that State Senator Obama indicated he would mediate was the rebuidling of the barrier wall protecting Promontory Point from Lake Michigan. He indicated in 2001 he would attempt to find common ground between the Hyde Park activists and the Chicago Park District.

If he intends on involving his Presidential Library in a manner like President Jimmy Carter utilizes his this would be a great first step.

One term? Two? Haven't you heard? He wants to be president for life. Glenn Beck says so, it must be true!

I'm excited about the possibility of a Presidential library in Chicago. In my opinion Chicago is the obvious choice.

Regarding the controversy regarding Promontory Point could it be that President Obama is "dithering" in making his decision?

Less than a year into his term and there is already talk about his library, which won't be built until after he leaves office. Hmm. Not exactly a vote of confidence in his chances in 2012, is it?

oh, will that make 'michelle' comfortable with the university? it could go in any number of places we don't know 'bout yet.

Obama went to Chicago because he had political ambitions and he knew he never would have had a political career if he stayed in Hawai'i, or if he stayed in NY or Mass. So he went to Chicago,

The reality is Chicago has seen the last of Obama, he will be spending little time in Chicago again, he got what he needed from the city and he has moved on, much like going to 7-11 for a gallon of milk, you go get what you need then go home.

The Obama library will be built in Hawai'i after all as an ex president Obama will have no further need to live in Illinois, for (except getting elected to a slew of Boards of directers) he will not be seeking any future elected office.

The University of Hawai campus is a short drive from where Obama grew up, hat is where the Library will go.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on October 26, 2009 7:21 AM.

President Obama official schedule and guidance, Oct. 26, 2009. War cabinet; Florida was the previous entry in this blog.

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