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Obama Presidential Center will work for the best of the South Side

South Side youth deserve a place where they can go to feel inspired, empowered and connected. That place should be close to home — not downtown or on the North Side.

A rendering of the planned Obama Presidential Center, which is scheduled to be built in Chicago’s Jackson Park.
A rendering of the planned Obama Presidential Center, which is scheduled to be built in Chicago’s Jackson Park.
Getty

For too long, the South Side has allowed outsiders to define it. We have listened to people lump all parts of our community together, often calling it dangerous and failing to recognize its different neighborhoods and the unique aspects each offers.

Most 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 the young people in it.

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

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 while providing 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.

The Obama Foundation has launched numerous programs focused on bringing opportunities to the community. The OPC has partnered with Lakeside Alliance to train and provide opportunities in the living-wage construction trade industry. 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 in various states with the necessary tools to be effective leaders and impact their local communities.

These programs provide only a glimpse of the types of opportunities the Obama Presidential 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 home — 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 celebrate its arrival.

Brian Starr, Hyde Park

Teachers strike all about power

Professors Bradley Marianno and Katharine Strunk hit the nail on the head with their op-ed on Thursday about the aim of public unions, particularly the Chicago Teachers Union and other teachers’ unions around the country.

Forget about “fighting for the kids.” This teachers’ strike in Chicago is all about public sector unions fighting to stay relevant in a fractured country. The authors are right that the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Janus v. AFSCME case, which prohibits unions from collection dues from non-union members, has created a tumult in the fight for primacy between management and labor.

The question is, who is looking out for the taxpayers and the public at large?

Kevin Garvey, Streeterville