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Reflections from Paul Norrington

Another North Lawndale Story:

We salute the KIPP Ascend Middle School’s “Mountain Lions”, the only all African-American rugby team in Illinois and the only elementary/middle school with a team in CPS. We wish them luck as they enter their 3rd season after last year’s 6-1 record and winning the Illinois Middle School State Championship.These young men demonstrate the willingness to reach beyond the expectations of others, and in doing so, achieve so much more.

That’s what the North Lawndale community has done in pursuing the OPL. In fact, the same spirit that pushes their program pushes their community; the audacity of hope. The Power of Community, Build it in North Lawndale

Black Rugby Team Keeps Pushing Against All Odds


KIPP Ascend Rugby Team.  Photo Credit: Andy Schmitz, Assistant Principal and Coach, KIPP-Ascend.

Imagine an all Black rugby team overcoming the odds in the inner city. It sounds like a movie, and maybe it will turn into one in the near future, but for now, it’s simply real life for 21 KIPP Ascend boys.

The 7th and 8th graders struggle with finding a practice location weekly since their school, 1616 S. Avers Ave., on the Southside has no field. They have raised money for uniforms and gear because the school didn’t have enough in its budget. Despite all of that, the recently formed team, which came together last year, has made a name for itself in the Rugby arena.
Highlights from the Presidents' Day Press Conference

Photo credits: Tony Stewart and Nicole "Nikki" Harvey.

Thanks to our elected officials for standing up for the West Side Presidential Library bid during the West Side Black Elected Officials' press conference. We thank the Friends of the West Side Presidential Library and everyone who played a role in the coordination of the press conference, as well as those of you who came out to support it. The turnout was great in spite of the fact that there were no flyers for the event and it was not very well publicized. Thank God for social media, and those of you who assisted in sharing posts, retweeting announcements and forwarding emails.

We thank Garfield Major and Congressman Davis for announcing the event on the radio. We thank ABC for announcing the event without us asking. We thank Alderman Chandler for running the media alert in his newsletter. We thank John Viramontes and the Council for Artists' Rights for sharing the flyer in their newsletter.

We had at least 6 cameras from local media, as well as reporters from print media.  Craig Dellimore, North Lawndale's own Tanya Francisco, Charles Thomas and Joanie Lum were among the television and radio journalists present. The written press included reporters from the North Lawndale Community News and the Austin Voice.  We thank the press for giving voice to the West Side bid.

So far, the following stories have come about as a direct result of the press conference:


Community leaders urge President Obama to choose UIC for library

West Side Officials Say North Lawndale Obama Library Site Would Have Biggest Impact

Obama library decision quickly approaching
Artist Will Donate Wildflower Works to Obama Presidential Library
We thank John Viramontes of the Council for Artists' Rights, for sharing the following article.

Photo credit: Chicago Wildflower Works

Chapman Kelley sees Foundation giving green light to University of Illinois at Chicago/West Side to host Barack Obama Presidential library.

In recent decades three world leaders have stepped forward in support of potable water conservation, sustainability and raising consciousness about global ecology.  On February 3, 1999, U.S. President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13112 which strongly champions native plants.  The profound importance of that Executive Order can be found in Jason and Roy Van Driesche’s book, “Nature Out of Place: Biological Invasions In The Global Age.” And for the first time in presidential library history, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library installed an energy saving “green” roof on it.  The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum saw the wisdom in the Clinton design priorities and followed suit by landscaping its grounds with plants indigenous to North Texas.

The University of Illinois at Chicago bid to host the Barack Obama Presidential Library adheres to the Obama Foundation’s Request for Proposal which has clear language in it guaranteeing that its landscaping will consist of native plants.  Obviously, indigenous plants are a prominent aspect of the three presidential libraries’ design.

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 sking 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.

Photo credit:

How Do You Plan to Honor The President During Black History Month?

Are you planning to celebrate Black History Month? If so, will any of those activities include honoring President Barack Obama?  If the answer to these questions is "yes", please share your pictures with us, so that we may post them on Twitter, our Facebook Page and website.  Please email Valerie F. Leonard at for further information.  We have shared some ideas below.
  • Quilting project depicting the life and history of President Obama and his family
  • Essay contest
  • Trivia Quizzes
  • Black History Bowl featuring questions about President Barack Obama
  • Pep Rally
  • Special award ceremonies providing community service and leadership awards in the President's name
  • Art project
We look forward to hearing about your events.
Black History Celebration at Urban Art Retreat

Photo Credit: Chicago Now

CUARC is offering a FREE special art workshop, 
1957 S. Spaulding Ave. at 21st for Black History Month at our facility on February 28.
Adults create portraits of African American heroes 11 - 1:00
Youth create portraits of African American heroes  1:30 - 3:30 
Everyone will practice making a portrait of President Obama first 
with instruction and then create a portrait of a lesser known African 
American hero to contribute to a community project. to RSVP    No Experience is needed!


Ms. Dianna C. Long
1957 S. Spaulding Ave. Chicago, Il. 60623
(corner of 21st, just 2 short blocks west of Kedzie pink line stop)
Where Do The Candidates Stand on the Obama Presidential Library?

The Chicago Westside Branch NAACP recently held a series of candidates forums in each of the African American West Side wards with contested races. Candidates discussed a range of issues, including the potential for the Obama Presidential Library to be built on the West Side. Here are links to the CAN TV videos for three wards. The forums for the Mayor's race and 37th Ward race were not videotaped.

24th Ward
27th Ward
29th Ward
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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