The Obama Presidential Center in Chicago's southwest Jackson Park neighborhood is expected to break ground later this year

By Eric Todisco
March 07, 2021 04:30 PM
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Obama Presidential Center
Michelle Obama
| Credit: Michelle Obama/Instagram

Michelle Obama has a powerful message to share with all Americans.

On Sunday, the former first lady, 57, shared an empowering post on Instagram to celebrate the announcement from the Obama Presidential Center. The words "You Are America" will be added to the exterior of the Chicago-based building as part of an excerpt of a speech former President Barack Obama gave.

In her post, Mrs. Obama reflected on her own upbringing and the significance that the words on the building mean to her and to all Americans.

"Growing up on the South Side, it was easy to feel removed from the corridors of power—in Washington or even at City Hall," the Becoming author wrote. "Today, we unveil the words that will appear on the exterior of the Obama Presidential Center as a reminder that we stand on the shoulders of those who marched in Selma and all those who came before us and that the task of progress is now in our hands."

Mrs. Obama continued, "That's why Barack and I started the @ObamaFoundation—to provide inspiration and support to young leaders looking to make change. My hope is when young folks from my old neighborhood look up and see the words 'You Are America,' they never question whether they belong or whether they have the power to shape this country's future."

The mother of two also celebrated the announcement on her Instagram Story, writing, "When young people from my old neighborhood on the South Side see the words 'You Are America' on the exterior of the Obama Presidential Center, I hope they believe it. Because they matter. They belong. And they have the power to shape this country for the better."

Michelle Obama posts video of words on Obama Presidential Center
Credit: Michelle Obama/Instagram

Her husband, 59, also shared a lengthy and powerful post on Instagram in honor of the presidential center's announcement.

"Across this country and around the world there are more steps to be taken, more progress to be made, more bridges to be crossed by young people unencumbered by what is and ready to seize what ought to be," the former president said. "That's why the Obama Presidential Center will feature a quote from my speech in Selma six years ago. Our goal is to honor the giants who carried us this far, and to inspire the next generation of young people who will lead us forward—a generation that is already bringing this nation closer to what it can be."

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Preliminary construction on the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago's southwest Jackson Park neighborhood is expected to begin in April, the 43rd president announced last month.

He also said the official groundbreaking for the estimated $500 million project may begin as soon as August.

Obama previously said he opted to build a community-based center instead of a presidential library in order to bolster the Jackson Park neighborhood on the city's South Side, where his wife grew up and where he began his political career, first being elected as a state senator there in 1996.

Obamas library
A mockup of a future library at the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago
| Credit: The Obama Foundation
Barack and Michelle Obama
Credit: Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty

The center will include a 235-foot tower with a museum and a branch of the Chicago Public Library. Outside, the Obama Foundation said the center will also include a Nike-backed athletic facility complete with a dual football and soccer field, an auditorium, a restaurant, public meeting spaces, a park, a wetland area, as well as a vegetable garden, children's play areas and more.

The Obama Foundation estimated the center will generate more than $3 billion for the local economy, while up to 5,000 jobs will be created in the near future to help with construction.