Chicago Wins Bid For Obama Presidential Library

Chicago Wins Bid For Obama Presidential Library

10:35pm May 12, 2015

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SAM COOKE: (Singing) Bring it on home to me. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.


"Bring It On Home To Me," Sam Cooke's 1960s soul hit. The chorus of that song was used by Chicago in its campaign to land the Barack Obama presidential library. Well, today, the city got its wish. The Barack Obama Foundation announced that the library will be built in the president's adopted hometown. The foundation selected a bid from the University of Chicago over proposals offered by universities in New York and Hawaii. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: The Obama library will house President Obama's papers when he leaves office, as well as those of the first lady's. At a community center where the announcement was made, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said winning the library made this a groundbreaking day for the city in terms of the educational value it would bring and the estimated hundreds of millions of dollars in economic value.


MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL: The library will catalog the past, but it will also be a catalyst to the future.

CORLEY: President Obama was a member of the University of Chicago Law School faculty for more than a decade. The first lady, who was born and raised on the South Side, also worked at the university. In a video, they talked about their decision to go with this bid.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Not only will we be able to encourage and affect change locally, but what we can also do is to attract the world to Chicago.

FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA: I'm thrilled to be able to put this resource in the heart of the neighborhood that means the world to me.

CORLEY: There are two locations being considered. Jackson Park is one. The nearby Woodlawn neighborhood was once famous for the jazz clubs that lined 63rd Street. Angel Burnett (ph), who was waiting for a bus near Jackson Park, said she was elated the library would be in the city.

ANGEL BURNETT: Obama is from here. He - we feel like he is from here, so it's only right his library should be here.

CORLEY: Washington Park, the other location, is home to the city's DuSable Museum of African American History. Historians call both areas part of the city's black metropolis that suffered systematic neglect - areas that would welcome the jobs and other benefits expected to follow.


M. OBAMA: One of my grandfathers - you know who - what we called him?

B. OBAMA: South Side.

M. OBAMA: We called him South Side.

B. OBAMA: (Laughter).

CORLEY: The Obama presidential library complex will be paid for with private money. The next step on the Foundation's timeline is to select an architect. Construction will begin once President Obama leaves office. Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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