Not everyone in Chicago is happy about former President Barack Obama opening his presidential library in the city’s South Side. Construction of the massive library began more than four years after Obama left office in September 2021 in the Woodlawn and South Shore communities.
The construction has raised fears that low-income Black residents will be displaced. The presidential center is expected to open in 2025 and generate $3.1 billion in revenue, which will benefit local businesses. billions of dollars in revenue. According to library officials, the library is expected to
Obama has raised more than $1 billion for the project.
Residents of the two communities are speaking out and demanding that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot protect the housing around the site where the Obama Presidential Center is being built.
On June 11, protesters marched on the street in front of Lightfoot’s personal residence and chanted calls for an agreement to benefit both neighborhoods, Audacy reported.
In the Woodlawn and South Shore areas, residents are predominantly low-income and Black. Most housing is rental and the residents have said that they’re seeing developers and investors coming in and rents going up.
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Protesters called for the mayor to keep her campaign promise to set aside lots for affordable housing. So far, she has not made good on that arrangement, CBS News reported.
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In 2021, Black community activists presented a list of demands to the mayor and those behind the presidential center.
Residents of the South Shore neighborhood voted overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party in 2008 and 2012. However, with the construction of the Barack Obama Presidential Center, they could lose their homes if the project gentrifies the neighborhood and causes a spike in rents and home prices, Business Insider reported.
A group calling itself the Obama Community Benefits Agreement Coalition or CBA has come together to voice concerns for the area around the Obama Center, which will include a museum tower, plaza, a Chicago library branch, a forum, and an athletic center. CBA describes itself as a group of organizations from across Chicago concerned about the effects the center will have on the community.
Despite the list, activists say there has been no movement to accommodate the local residents.
Photo: Former President Barack Obama speaks as Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, and former first lady Michelle Obama listen during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Obama Presidential Center, Sept. 28, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)