Community to build “People’s Obama Library” outside Mayoral Forum
Chicago, IL –(ENEWSPF)—February 10, 2015. Frustrated by a lack of support from elected officials for more community benefits from the University of Chicago, South Side activists plan to construct and hold a mock ribbon cutting of a “People’s Obama Library,” outside Tuesday’s mayoral debate on African-American issues. The art installation and street theater will show their vision for a South Side presidential library that includes much needed community benefits, including a level one adult trauma center at the U of C.
The event will be held on Tuesday, February 10 beginning at 4:30 p.m. outside DuSable Museum (57th and Cottage Grove).
Organizers hatched the plan after Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s refusal to call on the U of C to provide community benefits before supporting its bid for the Obama Presidential Library. Emanuel has been vocal in his support of turning over parkland for the construction of the Obama Library but has demanded nothing from the U of C in return.
“We want to send a clear message to Rahm and the other candidates that the UofC needs to do a lot more before the city gives away parkland for their Obama Library plan” explained Veronica Morris-Moore. “They city definitely shouldn’t be giving away public parkland without making sure the U of C shows that it is committed to the value of black lives on the South Side” added Morris-Moore. This argument echoes an editorial published in Crain’s, calling on the U of C to create a trauma center in exchange for parkland being turned over for the Obama library.
To illustrate this message, youth activists, community members and faith leaders, supported by U of C students, nurses and doctors, will unveil a mock up of the “People’s Obama Library” accompanied by the “People’s Trauma Center.” A South Side youth leader playing the “People’s Mayor” will announce the opening and preside over a ribbon cutting as ex-Mayor Rahm “#BlackLivesDon’tMatter” Emanuel looks on.
Activists are optimistic that the attention they are bringing to the lack of trauma care is bearing results. In December, the UofC agreed to raise the age limit of its pediatric trauma center by two years, a move organizers had long demanded as a stop-gap measure. That decision coincided with increased public attention in the run-up to the deadline for proposals to host the Obama Library.
The community’s demand for trauma care was sparked by the death of Woodlawn youth leader Damian Turner, and is led by the Woodlawn-based Fearless Leading by the Youth, along with the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, Students for Health Equity at the UofC, National Nurses United and many faith groups including the United Church of Christ.
The South Side is currently a trauma desert for adults, meaning that victims of shootings and other serious injuries must be taken over ten miles away, to the Near North Side or south west suburbs. The call for trauma care is also supported by a new study by the Illinois Department of Public Health which states that longer travel times to a trauma center increases the likelihood of dying, the study also states that the U of C is best positioned to expand access to trauma care, and that the U of C could further raise the age limit of their pediatric trauma center.
Recent stories on the trauma center campaign:
“Protestors link Obama library with #BlackLivesMatter,” Bloomberg
“UofC Wants to Raise Age Limit at Pediatric Trauma Center,” The Chicago Sun-Times
“UofC Aims to Expand Treatment at Children’s Trauma Center,” The Chicago Tribune
“Trauma center protesters target U. of C. capital campaign,” The Chicago Maroon
“Chicago Faith Leaders Sing, Pray For A South Side Trauma Center ,” Progress Illinois
“Religious leaders march for South Side trauma center,” Hyde Park Herald
“South Side Hospital Patients Caught in Trauma Deserts,” (Feature Story), Chicago Tribune
“University of Chicago Alumni: No Donations Until Trauma Center Opened,” Progress Illinois
“Chicago needs help, not Obama Library,” LZ Granderson, CNN.com
“Activists protest university’s bid for Obama Library,” USA Today