FILE – In this May 3, 2017 file photo, former President Barack Obama points as he arrives at a community event on the Presidential Center at the South Shore Cultural Center in Chicago. Former President Barack Obama’s presidential center will move another step closer to its brick-and-mortar future when ground is broken next week after years of reviews, other delays and local opposition. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
UPDATED 8:17 AM PT – Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Barack Obama is facing backlash for his $500 million presidential library in Chicago. The former president and first lady, Michelle, broke ground on the library in Jackson Park on Tuesday.
Critics have argued the construction will destroy the historic park and gentrify south Chicago. However, Obama believes the library will serve as a unifying point for the city during chaotic times.
“…we think it can speak to some of the most central struggles of our time,” stated Obama. “We are living through a moment of rapid disruption, in technology, in the global economy, in our social arrangements and in our environment.”
An advocacy group known as Protect Our Parks went all the way to Supreme Court in an effort to halt the construction of Obama’s library. It argued that the project, in fact, violated environmental laws. The group also pointed out construction would demolish “historical resources, parkland and trees.”
“The truth is any time you do a big project, unless you’re in the middle of a field somewhere, you know, and it’s on private property, there’s always going to be some people who say, ‘Well, but we don’t want change. We’re worried about it. We don’t know how it’s going to turn out,’” said Obama in defense of his library.
The library, which the former president has insisted will inspire future generations, is expected to be finished in 2025.