clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Obama Presidential Center will be an inspiration for South Side youth

South Side youth deserve a place where they can go to feel empowered and connected, close to their own homes — not downtown or on the North Side.

Former President Barack Obama points out features of the proposed Obama Presidential Center, which is scheduled to be built in nearby Jackson Park, during a gathering at the South Shore Cultural Center on May 3, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Presidential Center design envisions three buildings, a museum, library and forum. Obama was accompanied at the event by his wife Michelle who was making her first trip back to Chicago since leaving the White House in January.
Former President Barack Obama points out features of the proposed Obama Presidential Center, to be built in Jackson Park, during a gathering at the South Shore Cultural Center on May 3, 2017.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

For too long, the South Side has allowed outsiders to define it.

We’ve listened to people lump our community together, often calling it dangerous and failing to recognize its different neighborhoods and the unique aspects each one offers.

Recently, we have witnessed Chicagoans, many of whom are not from the South Side, oppose the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park.

As members of the South Side community, we must demand better for our community and its young people.

As the director of inspired engagement at the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago, I see the promise of our youth and witness the struggles their parents face every day. I have seen that creating opportunities for parents uplifts the family and provides stability for their children.

Providing thoughtful programs and resources for our youth allows them to dream bigger, to think creatively and to work collaboratively. The South Side is rich with talent waiting to be discovered.

To date, the Obama Foundation has launched numerous programs to bring opportunities to the community.

The foundation has partnered with Lakeside Alliance to train and provide opportunities in construction trades that pay a living wage. The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance works to close the gap between young men of color and their peers.

The Community Leadership Corps equips young people with tools to be effective leaders and impact their communities. These programs are only a glimpse of what the Obama Center will offer once opened.

South Side youth deserve a place where they can go to feel inspired, empowered and connected. And that place should be close to their own homes, not downtown or on the North Side.

They deserve to be inspired by the generations of civil rights leaders whose efforts made the Obama administration possible. They deserve safe places to play and quiet places to relax.

The OPC will be a source of inspiration for youth to dream bigger and fight harder. We should all celebrate its arrival.

Brian Starr, YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

Teflon Trump

In spite of the overwhelming evidence that the Trump campaign welcomed the Russian government’s activities to help elect President Donald Trump and in spite of the 10 instances of well-documented presidential obstruction of justice detailed in the Mueller report, our president has successfully deflected impeachment so far, both in broad public opinion and in Congress.

Now, however, I sense a rising tide of alarm, indignation, and determination in Congress (and even among our too-busy/too lazy-to-pay-attention electorate) that the Ukraine scandal now unfolding may breech Trump’s Teflon coating.

Mary F. Warren, Wheaton