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Reflections from Paul Norrington

The news reports on the recent public hearings for the UofC parkland controversy seem to offer just two scenarios; if UofC wins this public park debate, then Chicago has won the OPL; or, if they lose this debate, then Chicago has lost the bid. Both cases are wrong. Whether UofC wins or loses this side-debate, North Lawndale still stands with a strong bid.

Even in this national story, Chicago’s Westside is being ignored; but we should be use to that by now. We are the poorer, smaller, second cousin of the Southside. Yet, we dared to stand up. Through the decades, the Westside has lain ignored and fallow. And still we rise.

Rich and poor; people of every demographic twice came together to elect Barack. We were Black, White and Hispanic. We were urban, suburban and rural. Located in the city, bordering the Hispanic community of Little Village and the multi-ethnic suburbs, North Lawndale best represents that electorate. We best represent America.

The Power of Community, Build it in North Lawndale.

Happy Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King in their North Lawndale apartment in 1966.
Photo: Chicago Defender.
Happy Birthday, First Lady Michelle Obama!

President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama at the 37th Annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 7.  Mrs. Obama turned 51 on January 17, 2015. Photo: E! Online
North Lawndale Residents Show Support for the UIC-North Lawndale Presidential Library Bid

Friends of the North Lawndale Presidential Library held a press conference on January 15, 2015 to demonstrate support for the UIC-North Lawndale Presidential Library bid.



In an effort to salvage the University of Chicago’s bid for an Obama Presidential Library, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Park District hosted two public hearings to convey Chicago Park District-owned land to the City of Chicago. In the event the Obama Foundation selects the University of Chicago’s bid, the City will then negotiate with the Obama Foundation to convey the land to the Foundation. The first hearing was held Tuesday, January 13, at Hyde Park High School. The second hearing was held Wednesday, January 14, at the Washington Park Field House.


West Side residents attended the meetings and encouraged Mayor Emanuel and the Department of Housing and Economic Development to also host public hearings on the UIC-North Lawndale bid for the Obama Presidential Library. The UIC-North Lawndale bid includes 2 proposed sites, including one on the UIC campus and one in North Lawndale. The proposed North Lawndale site is a 23-acre vacant, city-owned parcel located at Roosevelt and Kostner. Public hearings would be required to convey the city-owned parcel to the Obama Foundation in the event that UIC-North Lawndale is a successful bidder. Having the hearings now would provide the opportunity to vet UIC-North Lawndale proposal and to raise the profile of their bid.

North Lawndale residents pose in front of proposed site of the Obama Presidential Library on Chicago's West Side. Photo: DNA Info/Stephanie Lulay.
Notes from the Friends of the North Lawndale Presidential Library Press Conference
Thanks to everyone who came out to our press conference on January 15, 2015. The idea came from Dwayne Truss, who was sitting next to Marcus Chizm Betts during a recent hearing on the proposed transfer of park land so that the city may convey land in the event the U of C is the successful bidder for the Obama Presidential Library. We pulled this together within less than 24 hours, and I believe it was successful.

Paul Norrington shared his thoughts concerning the vision for the Obama Presidential Library in North Lawndale. I reminded the audience that the Mayor promised to support both bids. Darren Tillis made the case for building the Library in North Lawndale. Marcus Betts provided updates and insights into the project from his experience with being the spokesperson for the North Lawndale Presidential Library Committee. Mr. William Kyle shared his perspectives being a longtime resident. Commissioner Robert Steele and Alderman Jason C Ervin showed support from our elected officials; clarified public processes for transfer of public land; made reports of regional support from elected officials from Western Suburbs and shared economic development plans. Dr. Dennis Deer shared his perspectives as a longtime resident and successful business owner. Cherita Logan, the District Director for Congressman Danny K. Davis, reiterated the Congressman's support for the project.

There were nearly 100 people in attendance, and the crowd included youth who appeared to be as young as 13 to senior citizens who appeared to be in their 80's. There were educators, business people, rank and file residents, students, representatives from organizations, etc. represented in the crowd. There appeared to be more men than women, which is refreshing. Twenty-fourth Ward aldermanic candidates include Frank Bass, Roger Washington, Michael Scott, Jr. and Darren Tillis. News media included the North Lawndale Community News, Austin Weekly News, DNA Info, WGN-TV and WBBM-TV. We MAY make the evening news on Channel 9 and Channel 2.

Marcus, Darren, Dwayne and I have debriefed informally, and our next step will be to have a community meeting at United Baptist Church, and expanding our reach across the region. Marcus and Darren continue to meet with the UIC and represent the North Lawndale community on the North Lawndale bid.

Valerie F. Leonard
Is There A Media Blackout of the UIC-North Lawndale Bid?
Mayor Emanuel has stated publicly that he would support bids from the University of Chicago and the UIC-North Lawndale bid. However, it should be noted that ever since the Obama Foundation released their concerns concerning  both bids, the Mayor has stepped up his efforts to support the University of Chicago's bid, but has not shown the same level of public support for the UIC-North Lawndale bid.  

There seems to be a foregone conclusion that the Library will be built in one of the South Side parks, and the local media are supporting this narrative.  Typically, news outlets highlight the University of Chicago's bid, and include 1--2 sentences at most--indicating that UIC has submitted a proposal.  Only 4 of Chicago's media outlets came out to the Friends of the North Lawndale Presidential Library's press conference on January 15th. Neither the Chicago Sun-Times nor the Chicago Tribune was among those outlets. Only 1 media outlet covered the town hall meeting held on December 8 by the North Lawndale Presidential Library Committee.  It is our sincerest hope that more media outlets will be able to send someone out to cover our upcoming community meeting on the Obama Presidential Library, in which we will engage community residents and elected leaders from the West Side and Western Suburbs. 
Upcoming Candidates Forums

The Chicago Westside NAACP will host a series of candidates forums to get a sense of the candidates' perspectives on a number of issues, including the North Lawndale Presidential Library. Please note the schedule below.

Friends of the Parks Oppose Use of Park-Owned Land for Obama Presidential Library

Friends of the Parks has gone on record as supporting an Obama Presidential Library in Chicago, so long as public park land is not used.  Here is a link to their letter to President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Obama Presidential Library in the News


Rev. Wilson Daniels, Pastor of United Baptist Church, in front of the 23-acre site for the proposed Obama Presidential Library. Photo: DNA Info/Stephanie Lulay.

Field of dreams: Chicago scrambles to rescue troubled Obama Library bids
The Depaulia, January 18, 2015 here
Chicago No Longer Seems a Lock to Host Obama Library, and Many are Alarmed
The New York Times, January 17, 2015 here
Emanuel says public hearings showed South Side residents want Obama library
Chicago Sun-Times, January 16, 2015 here
North Lawndale Residents Redouble Efforts to Get Obama Library
CBS Chicago, January 16, 2015 here
Obama Library 'Belongs' in North Lawndale, Neighborhood Leaders Say
January 16, 2015, DNA info here
Obama Foundation burst of fundraising: New donors revealed
Chicago Sun-Times, January 15, 2015 here
Emotions high in 2nd day of Chicago Obama library hearings
WGN-TV January 14, 2015 here
A presidential library fit for King?
Supporters of the North Lawndale bid want King's values of fairness and equity reflected
Austin Weekly News, January 13, 2015 here
A closer look at UIC's proposal for the Obama Presidential Library
WBEZ's Afternoon Shift, January 13, 2015 here
Can North Lawndale win the Obama Presidential Library when the other team won't play by the rules?
Chicago Reader, January 13, 2015 here
Emanuel confident Obamas will pick Chicago for presidential library
Chicago Tribune January 13, 2015 here
WLS-TV January 13, 2015 here
Land for Obama Library Sparks Debate Among Residents
NBC-Chicago, January 12, 2015 here
Obama presidential library pick could affect nearby transit
Redeye January 12, 2015 here
Opponents to face off on proposed plan for the Obama Presidential Library
WBEZ's Afternoon Shift, January 12, 2015 here
Hey, Mayor Rahm-North Lawndale is good enough for a Presidential Library
Chicago Reader, January 7, 2015 here

Review our tweets @NLOPL to get a more complete and current listing of articles regarding the Obama Presidential Library.  Follow us @NLOPL to stay abreast of the latest developments.

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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