Former first lady Michelle Obama said that her husband and former President Barack Obama could have built his presidential library practically anywhere in the world because many feel he is “their president”.
Michelle was speaking at the Obama Foundation Summit at the Illinois Institute of Technology where it was announced that the Barack Obama Presidential Center would be located in Chicago’s Jackson Park.
She said that, despite several places in the world wanting to give their space to the library, Chicago’s Jackson Park was selected as the location for the Obama Presidential Centre because it is close to the couple’s old home and was near Michelle’s South Side childhood home. “There’s power in the selection of Jackson Park,” she said. “Barack and I don’t do things incidentally. There’s a strategy.”
She then claimed that the library could have been built outside of the United States as well. “Barack’s presidential library could have been anywhere in the world because there are so many people who feel like he is their president,” she said, “New York wanted it. Hawaii wants it. Because it’s also an economic engine.”
Michelle appeared alongside her brother Craig Robinson. She was interviewed by author Isabel Wilkerson who wrote ‘The Warmth of Other Suns’.
Former President Obama was also present at the event where he famously condemned ‘wokeness’ and ‘cancel culture’.
“This idea of purity and you’re never compromised, and you’re always politically woke and all that stuff. You should get over that quickly,” the former president said. “The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws.”
The Barack Obama Presidential Library will open in 2020 and is set to be “the first completely digital presidential library in the country, with no paper records stored on-site”—papers will be stored at a separate National Archives and Records Administration facility.
While civic pride, economic development and creation of jobs are cited as reasons behind the selection of the South Side space, the project has faced strong opposition since its conception. Nonprofit group Friends of the Parks opposes the loss of parkland to build the center and had threatened to file a lawsuit hoping to block development.
Preservationist group Protect Our Parks filed a lawsuit in May 2018 to prevent a part of the park dating back to 1893 from being snatched from the public and given to a private entity. In June this year, dismissing all lawsuits, a federal judge ruled that plans to build the $500 million presidential center on Chicago’s lakefront could move forward.