On Tuesday, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama announced they’ll be making a huge donation to create opportunities for the residence of their hometown of Chicago. The former first couple revealed that they would be opening a presidential library in their name to serve as both the library and the headquarters for the Obama Foundation.
“Michelle and I will personally donate $2 million to our summer jobs programs here in the community so that right away people can get to work and we can start providing opportunity for them,” Obama said, adding that the center will not be open for another four years.
“We can’t afford to wait four years to start working together, and so what Michelle and I want to do is start now,” he added, noting the violence in the city.
“We’ll be working with the city, we’ll be working with the county, we’ll be working with businesses because part of what we want to do is reach young people who might be at risk if they don’t have something to do during the summers,” Obama continued. “But part of what we also want to do is to reach older youth who may be prepared for apprenticeships because one of the things that this project is going to do is generate jobs.”
According the former Head of State, the center is estimated to create 200-300 jobs, while its construction alone will generate 1,400-1,500 jobs, in addition to “another 2,000 in the overall economic development of the area.”
The center will be built in the city’s Jackson Park and the museum portion will be shaped like a lantern.
“What we wanted was something that was alive and that was a hub for activity for the community and for the city and for the country,” Obama added, noting that the center will include, “a studio where I can invite Spike Lee or Stephen Spielberg to come and do workshops on how to make films around the stories that young activists are working on.”
In addition, it will include a “music recording studio where I can invite Chance (the Rapper) or Bruce Springsteen, depending on your taste, to come here and talk about how you can record music that has social commentary and meaning,” he continued.
“Let’s face it, ya’ll wanna see Michelle’s dresses and some of the campaign posters and maybe there will be some artifacts from the White House and the presidency. Those are all interesting things to pull people in and give them a sense of what this has been all about,” Obama said, before discussing what Chicago’s South Side meant to him.
“The best things that have happened to me in my life happened in this community,” he said. “The closest friends that I have made, the start of my life in public service, the values I learned here in Chicago and we’ve now passed on to our children, I owe it all to this community. Although we had a formal bidding process to determine where the presidential library was going to be, the fact of the matter was it had to be right here on the South Side of Chicago.”