Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama broke ground on their new presidential library side by side. Beginning one of the final steps in a long process, the two start construction of the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago, Ill.
The presidential center will sit on 19 acres of Jackson Park and will be home to a museum, an athletic center, a forum building, a public plaza, a play area, and a branch of the Chicago Public Library once completed.
The construction ceremony was accompanied by statements from the 44th president, and his vision for the project.
He stated that the center is his way of giving back to a community. A community that shaped him as the leader the world knows him as today. Saying “[It] taught me that change doesn’t start on a global scale. Change starts one person at a time.”
Reliving his days as a community organizer in the Southside of Chicago, he continued to say “We want this center to be more than a static museum or a source of archival resource.”
“It won’t just be an exercise in nostalgia or looking backwards, we want to look forward, we want this to be a living, thriving home,” Obama said.
Obama selected Chicago saying in an interview that it’s the place where “all the strands of my life came together.”
He relays that he began his career, launched his political career and eventually, claimed victory in the 2008 presidential campaign in Chicago.
“The people there, the community, the lessons that I learned – they’re all based right in this few square miles where we’ll now be able to give something back and bring the world back home after this incredible journey,” Obama said.
Former first lady, Michelle Obama, delivered remarks as well saying, “No matter what I’ve accomplished or who I’ve met or where I’ve gone, one of my greatest honors is being a proud Chicagoan. A daughter of the South Side. I still lead with that descriptor.”
The former presidential couple were also accompanied and greeted by the Mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, and Illinois Governor, J.B Pritzker. Both of whom were a part of the breaking ground ceremony and have been open about their high hopes for the Center.
Lightfoot took to Instagram to say that the “Obama foundation center is the future of the Southside,” and “The center will be an amazing starting point for a prosperous future.”
Even President Joe Biden spoke via video message where he relayed his time as Obama‘s Vice President and the accomplishment the center would be for the community.
The president continues on to add “That’s what today represents. It’s not just breaking ground on a new building. It’s breaking ground on the very idea of America as a place of possibilities.”