Former President Barack Obama, Illinois Governor J.B. Prtizker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and former First Lady Michelle Obama met in Chicago on Tuesday for a historic ceremony. Together, the group broke ground on the Obama Presidential Center.
“This day’s been a long time comin’,” the 44th U.S. President told a group of supporters and reporters, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
“Chicago is where almost everything that is most precious to me began."
The trio has fought through a bit of pushback to reach the groundbreaking ceremony. As reported by the Black Information Network in August, an environmental protection group called Protect Our Parks filed an emergency request to halt construction on the center. Protect Our Parks asserts that the center will “demolish significant parts of Jackson Park, its historical resources, parkland, and trees, which will, in turn, adversely affect the human environment, the historic landscape, wildlife, and migratory birds."
Despite these concerns, the city's plan to build the center moved forward. As reported by the Black Information Network in June, the Obama Foundation will feature a museum, library, playground and several other facilities for the surrounding community. In addition, the Obama Foundation expects the center to create 5,000 indirect and direct jobs for the city that helped propel the former President's national political career.
“It feels natural for Michelle and me to want to give back to Chicago and to the South Side in particular. We will always be grateful for that, and the Obama Presidential Center is our way of repaying some of what this amazing city has given us, but we’re also building this center because we believe it can speak to the struggles of our time," Obama added, according to the Chicago Sun Times.