Photo courtesy of Jada Russell

Since the Barack Obama Foundation announced plans for the presidential library in January 2014, the South Side community has given overwhelming support—through community meetings, social media, letters of support, and even song—for bringing the Obama Presidential Center to Chicago. In its announcement on May 12, the foundation cited the intense community support as a strong factor in the selection of the South Side for the Obama Presidential Center. Here is a selection of quotes from supporters across the Chicago area.

“The Obama Presidential Library belongs here because we will cherish it as no other place could. We will speak of it with deep pride. And we will tell our children, ‘You could do that.’”
—Timuel Black, educator, historian, civil rights activist, and South Side resident

“…The most significant benefit will be the inspirational impact the library can have on our youth. Cultural institutions can open doors, can open minds, and can open worlds.”
—Dave Mosena, president & CEO, Museum of Science and Industry

“How amazing would it be to share our South Side community with the world? The library would be that gateway. This is the catalyst project we need to ignite economic growth and prosperity in the neighborhood and surrounding community.”
—Ghian Foreman, executive director, Greater Southwest Development Corporation

“The possibilities of this project unlocked the energy and commitment of so many people in our communities. We see a tremendous opportunity to help culturally significant neighborhoods become vibrant and more economically self-sufficient. I think that’s why people have come out to show their support, and it’s why we’re going to succeed together.”
—Bernita Johnson-Gabriel, executive director, Quad Communities Development Corporation

“The South Side of Chicago is an extraordinary community that beautifully reflects the character and values of the Obama presidency. There could be no better place for the presidential library.”
—Elaine Wackerly, South Side resident

“…The most critical benefit is the human connection that the Obama Presidential Library shall provide to our inner city youth. It’s a presidential library within reach. It helps us all reaffirm to our children and young neighbors that their grandest dreams can become realities.”
—Maya Hodari, South Side resident

“I think the Obama Presidential Library would be a wonderful magnet to pull the center of the city southward and to truly showcase the diversity and richness of the Chicago experience. When the Obama Presidential Library opens, I will be an enthusiastic early visitor!”
Kristina Kaufman, University of Chicago alumna

“Barack Obama’s presidency will be remembered, in part, for his commitment to the environment and education, and for First Lady Michelle Obama’s commitment to the White House vegetable garden, healthy eating, and exercise. A Presidential Library and Center planned carefully to enhance our park system, and including flower and vegetable gardens, including potentially a roof garden, can make an impressive statement with lasting impact.”
—Sophia Shaw, president and CEO, Chicago Botanic Garden

“In these 75 years [The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce] [has] learned how businesses work and think. We are all about economic development, which means employment opportunities, flourishing businesses, and a vibrant fiscal community. The Obama Presidential Library is wonderfully, incredibly, outrageously supportive of each of these endeavors.”
—Wallace Goode, executive director, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce

“This will be a great place for organizations to come together to really change the narrative of what our youth feel is possible.”
—Kamau Murray, president and founder, XS Tennis and Education Foundation

“[The library] would be an inspiration to all the young people who may not remember Dr. King, but will now remember President Obama.”
—Rev. Byron Brazier, pastor, Apostolic Church of God

“Bringing the Obama Presidential Library to Chicago, and specifically to the South Side, would open up countless opportunities for local neighborhoods and allow us to recognize and celebrate what can be accomplished when people are given the resources and opportunities to reach their true potential.”
—Michael Reinsdorf, president and chief operating officer, Chicago Bulls

“Locating the Obama Presidential Library on the South Side creates a valuable anchor institution in the local community, a vehicle for increased economic activity and opportunities for its residents and businesses.”
—Theresa Mintle, president and chief executive officer, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce

“The Presidential Library would be an invaluable enhancement to the cultural and vibrant landscape of our community, and a place to inspire, educate, and connect youth to the civic life of the country for generations to come.”
—Greg Mooney, executive director, Gary Comer Youth Center

"We believe this opportunity is going to afford the South Side community the economic boost that it has been anticipating for decades. It will bring jobs, more retail, and new development. We appreciate the hard work of the University of Chicago and are extremely thankful that the President and First Lady selected Chicago's South Side for the Obama presidential library. We look forward to the positive change."
—Donna Hampton-Smith, president and CEO of the Washington Park Chamber of Commerce

Originally published on May 12, 2015.