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Reflections from Paul Norrington

With her legacy already well established, Bobbie L Steele , the first female President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, was one of the earliest supporters of our community pursuing the North Lawndale Presidential Library. With her moral support and practical advice, she helped move a lonely and often demoralized effort forward. Today, because of her support, North Lawndale stands as one of only four finalists for this game changer. When the Library comes to Chicago's Westside, it will, in no small way be due to her efforts. We owe you so much Bobbie. My sincerest gratitude and appreciation goes to one of our community's bedrocks. We have included excerpts from her bio from Wikipedia below.

Bobbie L. Steele

Bobbie L. Steele was sworn in as the 32nd president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners on August 1, 2006.[1] She had been commissioner for the 2nd District of Cook CountyIllinois for 20 years and served out the remainder of the current presidential term through December 4, 2006.

Steele was born in ClevelandMississippi where she lived until she completed high school in 1954. She later attended Alabama A&M University in Huntsville,Alabama for two years.

Steele moved to Chicago’s Westside in 1956 with the intention of finishing her education. In 1966, she graduated from Chicago’s Teacher’s College with a degree in Elementary Education. She went on the Roosevelt University where she earned her master’s degree in Supervision and Administration of Education. For twenty years, Steele worked for the Chicago Public Schools.

In 1986 after urging from Mayor Harold Washington, Steele decided on a career change and ran successfully for the Cook County Board of Commissioners. More

Source: Wikipedia
Photo:   LinkedIn

Chicago Plan Commission To Hold Hearing On Obama Library

The following announcement is from                              
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March 9, Monday, 11 am. Chicago Plan Commission hearing on the Library in parks ordinance. City Hall 2nd floor, 121 N. LaSalle. (Expect to get there very early to get in, esp. if you wish to speak- and if so expect you will also have to say "support" or "oppose.")

March 11, Wednesday, 10:00 am. Joint-hearing of the ordinance by 3 City Council committees- Housing, Budget, and Special Events, at City Hall.

City Council meeting  Wednesday, March 18 , 10:00 am. for the vote. (You may have to wait all day, or it could be rushed through at the start, or be bundled with many other provisions-- but with something this important there is generally a presentation followed by invited testimony/sponsorship-- if speaking is allowed, you have to sign up in advance. Expect the whole 2nd floor hall to be full of people who want to speak, so come early.)
Obama Quilt
Reneau Diallo, a local quilter, designed this quilt in 2008 to commemorate the historic election of Barack Obama as the first African American President of the United States. Reneau was one of the lead instructors for the North Lawndale African American Heritage Quilting Project from 2011-2012. She grew up in North Lawndale, and her grandmother was the first African American female student to graduate from Nash Elementary School in Austin, on Chicago's West Side.

Call to Action:

Sign the Petition to Bring the
Obama Presidential Library to the West Side

The Friends of the West Side Presidential Library is asking stakeholders of Chicago’s West Side and West Suburban communities to sign a petition asking President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to build the Obama Presidential Library on Chicago’s West Side. The proposed project, sponsored by the University of Illinois at Chicago and the North Lawndale community, would include a library and museum to be built on a vacant, 23-acre city-owned parcel bounded by Roosevelt Road and Kostner, Kildare and Fifth avenues in North Lawndale. The project would also include a visitors center and a proposed O-4 Institute for academic-civic collaboration at the corner of Harrison and Halsted on the UIC campus.

Building the Obama Presidential Library on Chicago’s West Side offers a tremendous opportunity for community and economic impact. With over 20 million square feet of vacant City-owned land, the impacted West Side communities have more vacant land than any other cluster of neighborhoods in Chicago. North Lawndale, and neighboring West Garfield and East Garfield have not experienced sustained comprehensive development in nearly 60 years. Building the OPL on the West Side provides an unprecedented opportunity to work with local planning agencies and the University of Illinois to develop local and regional land use plans that will leverage the impact of the plan proposed by UIC to touch every West Side Community and extend reach to the Western Suburbs. You may sign the petition here

The Friends of the West Side Presidential Library is an ad hoc group of community stakeholders from Chicago’s West Side and West Suburban communities who are interested in seeing the Obama Presidential Library built on the West Side. The group supports the UIC-North Lawndale bid for the Obama Presidential Library, but is not affiliated with the university. To find out more about the UIC-North Lawndale bid for the Obama Presidential Library, visit To find out more about the bid from a local community perspective, visit the North Lawndale Presidential Library Committee's website at You can also find the North Lawndale Presidential Library on Facebook, and follow the latest developments on Twitter @NLOPL.

 Please share this widely in your networks.  Time is of the essence, as the President and First Lady are expected to make their decision next month. Thank you in advance.

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Where Do The Candidates Stand on the Obama Presidential Library?

The Chicago Westside Branch NAACP will host a series of candidates forums in each of the African American West Side wards with contested races. Candidates will discuss a range of issues, including the potential for the Obama Presidential Library to be built on the West Side. Here is a copy of the event flyer.

Questions for Consideration

We are in the home stretch, now, and the Obama Foundation is expected to make their decision for the siting of the Obama Presidential Library by April 7th.  Regardless of where the OPL is sited, the following questions remain, and should be asked of elected officials, candidates and university representatives.
  1. In spite of the fact that proposals call for building the OPL on either park land or vacant land, the development is expected to impact a much greater area, approximately within a mile radius, or more, of the chosen site. Will there be displacement of local residents as an indirect result of the OPL?
  2. How will local residents be actively engaged in the development and implementation of the library programs?
  3. What steps will be taken to ensure hiring of local contractors, consultants and employees during the planning and construction of the OPL?
  4. Will there be a comprehensive community benefits agreement in place to ensure local hiring and contracting and protections from displacement?
What Do West Side Stakeholders Say About the Obama Presidential Library?

As you may recall, we shared the results an informal survey of West Side stakeholders last December to gauge the level of interest in having the Obama Library built on Chicago's West Side. We have included links to the survey instrument, the responses and analysis of survey results below.

Presidential Library Survey Instrument

Responses to Presidential Library Survey

Analysis of Survey Results

Obama Presidential Library in the News

Obama library event will unite U. of C., UIC bid supporters, sources say

Planning Commission to tackle Obama Library parkland transfer in March

Chicago Conservation Group Doubts Obama Foundation Poll That Shows Support For South Side Library

Obama library gives West Siders hope

This is  just a sampling of recent articles concerning the Obama Presidential Library. Please go to our Twitter page @NLOPL, or our website,, for more archived news stories.
Help President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama to Focus Their Philanthropy

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The Barack Obama Foundation was created in January 2014 to lay the groundwork for the President and First Lady's philanthropic activities after the President leaves the White House in January 2017. The Foundation's first major project is the creation of a Library and Museum, in partnership with the National Archives and Records Administration. Future plans involve the creation of programs and initiatives that reflect the President and First Lady's values and priorities throughout their careers in public service: expanding economic opportunity, inspiring an ethic of citizenship and promoting peace, justice and dignity throughout the world. Please visit the Obama Foundation and complete the survey, located in the right margin, to share your thoughts.
Need to Catch Up on What You Missed?

A lot has happened with the bid over the past few weeks.  Read archived issues of our e-blast here
We're Taking This
Show on the Road!

We will be meeting with organizations, churches and schools throughout the North Lawndale community and West Side. We will provide information on the Presidential Libraries, answer frequently asked questions and look for ways we may sponsor joint activities to engage your constituents in promoting the UIC-North Lawndale proposal for the Obama Presidential Library. Here is a link to the video of the standard presentation. We will tailor meetings to suit your needs. For further information, email Marcus De La Fleur at 

Wear the Badge

For a suggested donation of $1.00, you can get your "Build it in North Lawndale" Obama Presidential Library buttons. For further information, email Marcus De La Fleur at
Post the Badge

Do you have a website? Show your support of the UIC-North Lawndale Obama Presidential Library bid by posting a badge on your website and exchanging links with us.  Our website URL is
Check Out Our Social Media!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Follow us @NLOPL. You will be able to get updates, interact with our other followers and view videos of our local heroes sharing North Lawndale stories. We encourage you to ask your Twitter followers to follow this page and engage us in conversation. Post "Bring the and

Find Us on Facebook!

Make sure to "Like" the North Lawndale Presidential Library page and encourage your Facebook friends to do the same. You will get updates and be able to have conversations with other fans and North Lawndale stakeholders.  Please, encourage your Facebook friends to "like" and share this page as well.

Visit Our Website!

Our website went live on December 7, 2014.  When you visit, you will get an overview of the North Lawndale bid, learn about other Presidential Libraries, be able to give feedback about the proposed Presidential Library in North Lawndale, see our Twitter feed and get other updates. Please, visit the website the Chicago Way--early and often! You are encouraged to follow our blogs to get instant updates every time a new blog article is posted.

Thanks for helping us generate a buzz!
Copyright © 2015 North Lawndale Presidential Library Committee, All rights reserved.

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