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“It’s incredibly significant that we get to name this street after our president in our neighborhood," said one attendee

By Adam Carlson
May 06, 2019 09:19 AM
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On Saturday Los Angeles officially renamed a 3.5-mile road Obama Boulevard after former President Barack Obama, an honor he described as humbling but really “not about” him.

“While Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I are so humbled by this day, we’re still mindful that this is not about us,” Obama, 57, said in a letter read on his behalf at the renaming ceremony, according to the L.A. Times.

“This is about this neighborhood’s next generation and all we want for them,” Obama’s letter continued. “We hope they look at the new street signs and find inspiration in all that a group of committed citizens can achieve together.”

Saturday’s ceremony was held in the same park where, 12 years earlier, Obama staged a rally in the early days of his 2008 presidential campaign, according to CNN and the Times.

“For every child who will drive down this street and see the name of the first Black President of our country, this boulevard will serve as a physical reminder that no goal is out of reach and that no dream is too big,” the L.A. City Council president, Herb Wesson, tweeted later Saturday.

Obama Boulevard
President Barack Obama Boulevard in Los Angeles, officially unveiled last week. Inset: President Obama.
| Credit: Damian Dovarganes/AP/REX/Shutterstock; Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Wesson, Mayor Eric Garcetti and other politicians reportedly attended the renaming along with neighborhood residents, activists and former Obama administration officials. In total the event drew thousands of people, per the Times.

“This is history. This is our neighborhood — a predominately African American neighborhood,” one woman who also attended Obama’s 2007 told the Times. “It’s incredibly significant that we get to name this street after our president in our neighborhood.”

Obama Boulevard had been Rodeo Road, in L.A.’s Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw neighborhood. The renaming was approved last summer.

Barack Obama Attends My Brother's Keeper's Alliance First National Gathering MBK Rising! In Oakland
Former President Barack Obama
| Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty

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“As we drive through this city and we see past presidents on Adams, on Washington, on Jefferson and now we’ll have one that was in our lifetime, who was a president for everybody: Barack Hussein Obama,” Mayor Garcetti said at Saturday’s renaming.

Among attendees, according to the Times, was advocate Thandiwe Abdullah.

Now the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Youth Vanguard, Abdullah sold lemonade and organized bake sales to send money to Obama’s nascent campaign 12 years ago, the Times reported.

From the stage at Saturday’s ceremony, which also doubled as a street festival, she said: “A lot of people will say it’s just another street, but for me, being 15 years old, a black child looking up and seeing the name of the first black president in my own ’hood — that gives me hope. That gives me inspiration to step into my fullest purpose, and I know it does for so many others who look like me.”

Since leaving office in 2017, Obama has largely eschewed politics in favor of urging on the country’s young leaders. He has, at times, criticized successor Donald Trump‘s policies.

Obama is also at work on a memoir. His wife’s memoir, Becoming, was released last year to blockbuster sales and a hugely popular international tour.

The Obamas are also producing movies, TV and nonfiction programming for Netflix.