To the editor:

I was disgusted by the self-righteous, condescending nature of Ms. Erin J. Adams’ letter to the editor this past week.

I understand the Obama Foundation Center “means so much to the people of the South Side” and “is such a source of pride for [Ms. Adams] and so many in our communities on the South Side.” I don’t, as Ms. Adams suggests, need to “educate [myself] and hopefully realize . . . that this is not just about [me].  It is much, much bigger.” And I don’t need Ms. Adams to implore me to “please look around and then look within.”

I am a proud, lifetime resident of the South Side. My parents took me as a young child to hear Martin Luther King speak at Soldier Field in the early ‘60s. I picketed the former A&P grocery store at 51st and Lake Park with Jessie Jackson in the late ‘60s.

I voted for the former Black Panther Bobby Rush in his first run for public office as an aldermanic candidate when I lived at Prairie Shores as a young man. In that same election year, I voted for Harold Washington as he became Chicago’s first elected African American mayor. My mother encouraged her good friend Carol Mosley Braun to seek her first local public office and later supported her, as did I, in her successful bid to become the first African American woman in history to become a U.S. senator. I supported and voted for President Obama in every race he won for elective office, and I was profoundly gratified he was elected president and our country took another step toward realizing our nation’s ideals.

My opposition to building the Obama Foundation Center in the majestic Jackson Park has nothing to do with racial animus or a lack of appreciation of the depth of our country’s racial problems. I am thrilled the Obama Foundation will be located on the South Side, where it should be. However, in my opinion, the foundation’s virtuous endeavors can be pursued and realized if it is located on any one of the many parcels of land on the South Side that have been left obscenely vacant for too long, and by doing so we can preserve a public park treasure at the same time.

John Clement

(1) comment

Ross Petersen

I'd like to suggest alternate locations: 60th and Stony Island: U of C has a parking lot on it. Site of the (former) Plaisance Hotel, lost to urban renewal. Give Obama half, of Stagg field. 55th and Cottage Grove, across from Dusable Museum. We can Build on ML King Drive, across the Street from the Park. There is land adjacent to, not on, these public Parks.

We only have the one chance, to do this right. Yet this plan came about from behind closed doors, and it doesn't appear that environmental impact played any role in the design or location of these buildings.

We are being asked to give up the Park for the OPC. Road widening, including Lake Shore Drive, will change the character of the Park. We are being asked to give up nature, for a built environment.

The OPC should be built adjacent to, not on, any public Park.

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