Oh, the Irony: Chicago Community Organizing Against Obama’s Presidential Library

Obama-Presidential-Library1

Gentle Readers, please allow me to present for your enjoyment and edification the following “Feel-Good Story”…

At least, that’s the way I see it.

Politico.com reports that

…The world’s most famous ex-community organizer is facing a minor uprising from the community where his presidential center is supposed to be built—the same community, in fact, where he got his start in politics.

The center’s troubles became clear last September, when Jeanette Taylor, the education director of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, walked into the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago with something on her mind. She was there for a public meeting with officials from the Obama Foundation, the entity that is building the Obama Center—a monument to the career of former President Barack Obama for which construction is scheduled to begin later this year in Woodlawn, a neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. Taylor so wanted to be first in line for the microphone that nearly a dozen of her fellow community organizers had camped out overnight to save her a spot at the front of the line to get into the event.

As she entered the hotel ballroom, Taylor expected to interrogate a member of the foundation’s staff. Instead, she found herself face to face with Obama himself, appearing by video conference from Washington.

“The library is a great idea, but what about a community benefits agreement?” Taylor asked, referring to a contract between a developer and community organizations that requires investments in, or hiring from, a neighborhood where a project is built. “The first time investment comes to black communities, the first to get kicked out is low-income and working-class people. Why wouldn’t you sign a CBA to protect us?”

Measured as always, Obama began by telling Taylor, “I was a community organizer.” Then he said, “I know the neighborhood. I know that the minute you start saying, ‘Well, we’re thinking about signing something that will determine who’s getting jobs and contracts and this and that’ … next thing I know, I’ve got 20 organizations coming out of the woodwork.”

The answer infuriated Taylor, who pays $1,000 a month for the Woodlawn apartment she shares with her mother and two children, and is worried that the Obama Center’s cachet will drive up neighborhood rents. Months later, she is still furious at the former president.

“He got a lot of nerve saying that,” Taylor told me. “He forgotten who he is. He forgot the community got him where he is.”

Taylor is not alone in her complaint. Since 2016, more than a dozen local groups—neighborhood organizations, labor unions and tenants’ rights activists—have come together to form the Obama Library South Side Community Benefits Coalition, which is pushing the library to account for local needs. At the University of Chicago, where Obama once taught at the law school, more than 100 faculty members signed a letter in January supporting the demands of local organizers. “There are concerns that the Obama Center as currently planned will not provide the promised development or economic benefits to the neighborhoods,” the letter reads. “It looks to many neighbors that the only new jobs created will be as staff to the Obama Center.”

Although the Obama Foundation has signed a private agreement with its contractors that guarantees minority hiring, local activists say it doesn’t provide enough public oversight of the project or address the issue of gentrification. It’s an ongoing battle that activists have taken all the way to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office, and that may have implications for next year’s aldermanic elections.

Obama now finds himself on the receiving end of the same demands his younger self once made to crusty Chicago politicians he derided as “ward heelers.” But, as the dispute plays out, Obama the former president is far more powerful than the City Hall bureaucrats and state senators he once badgered for resources—maybe too powerful for organizers to rally against.

From 1985 – 1988, Obama was a Community Organizer in that very same area in Chicago.

What does a Community Organizer do? I’m glad you asked.

Per Byron York in an article found at nationalreview.com:

Community organizing is most identified with the left-wing Chicago activist Saul Alinsky (1909-72), who pretty much defined the profession. In his classic book, Rules for Radicals, Alinsky wrote that a successful organizer should be “an abrasive agent to rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; to fan latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expressions.” Once such hostilities were “whipped up to a fighting pitch,” Alinsky continued, the organizer steered his group toward confrontation, in the form of picketing, demonstrating, and general hell-raising.

Obama was hired by Jerry Kellman, a New Yorker who had gotten into organizing in the 1960s. Kellman was trying to help laid-off factory workers on the far South Side of Chicago, in a nearly 100% black community. He led a group, the Calumet Community Religious Conference, that had been created by several local Catholic churches in the industrial community. Kellman was advised to hire a black organizer for a new spinoff from CCRC. They called it the Developing Communities Project, designed to focus solely on the Chicago part of the area.

One of Obama’s projects while he was there, was to try to build an alliance of white and black churches and enlist them in the cause of social justice. Obama had a problem, though. He didn’t go to church himself. And that, brothers and sisters, is how Obama, drawn to the preaching of Rev. Jeremiah Wright (and a political opportunity), joined Trinity United Church of Christ on 95th Street.

If you ask Obama’s fellow Community Organizers what his most significant accomplishments were, they’ll say two things: the expansion of a city summer-job program for South Side teenagers and the removal of asbestos from one of the area’s oldest housing projects. Those were his biggest victories.

Whoo Hoo. Big Whoop.

Now, Obama is getting a taste of his own medicine.

The Former President is being looked down upon as “The Man” in the same community where he used to fire up the local citizenry by railing against “The Man”.

Oh, the irony.

As President, Obama’s use of the “Rules for Radicals”, invented by Saul Alinsky, became a handy tool for him by which to purposefully divide America along the lines of race and monetary classes, in order to more effectively carry out his plans to radically change our Constitutional Republic into just another Democratic Socialist country.

However, the “best laid plans of mice and men” have been unraveled and cast aside over the past 14 months, thanks to the accomplishments of President Donald J. Trump.

And now, his own community, his “Base of Power” if you will, is using those same rules to rise up against him and his egocentric plans for his very own “Hall of Fame” honoring himself.

Actually, the community doesn’t seem to mind that the Library will honor Obama.

What they mind is that they won’t see anything in terms of money or that “three-letter word” Joe Biden once spoke of: “J-O-B-S”.

Bon Jovi sang a few years ago “Who says you can’t go home”?

Evidently, for Former Community Organizer-in-Chief Barack Hussein Obama, the Chicago Community where he wants to build his Presidential Library, does.

Perhaps it’s time for another one of his famous “Beer Summits”, huh?

Until He Comes,

KJ

One thought on “Oh, the Irony: Chicago Community Organizing Against Obama’s Presidential Library

  1. Reblogged this on On the Patio and commented:
    Yes! Irony is a great word for this. Obama is getting a taste of his own policies. And he thought they would welcome him with open arms and let it happen just because it was him. We will watch and see what happens. Nice!

    Like

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