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'A Promised Land': President Obama’s New Book and the Obama Presidential Center


November 17, 2020
A rendering of the Obama Presidential Center campus.

In an excerpt from President Obama’s new memoir Opens in a new tab , "A Promised Land," he notes that he wrote the book primarily for young people, as “an invitation to once again remake the world, and to bring about, through hard work, determination, and a big dose of imagination, an America that finally aligns with all that is best in us.” That idea is central to our mission in building the Obama Presidential Center.

At the Center, visitors will experience the Obama presidency and hear first hand from those who lived through the events President Obama writes about—moments of celebration, like Election Night 2008; the weight of presidential decision-making, such as the work to save the economy in 2009; and days of triumph, like the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. But they’ll also learn about a theme that runs through "A Promised Land"—the push and pull of progress, and the work across generations to build a “more perfect union” that lives up to our founding ideals.

For that reason, we have an obligation not just to tell the story of a historic President and First Lady, but also those on whose shoulders they stood over time. President and Mrs. Obama know their journey was only made possible by those who came before, and visitors to the Center will learn about the movements that defined our history as well as the people who made Chicago what it is today. Taken together, their stories offer a testament to the power of ordinary citizens working together to bring about change.

More than just a world-class museum, the Center will engage visitors and connect them with ways to shape their own future for the common good. Rooted in the Foundation’s mission to inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world, it will serve as a gathering space for the South Side of Chicago, generate billions of dollars in economic opportunity, and stand as a reminder to millions of visitors that their potential is limitless.

Check out a tour of the Obama Presidential Center and some examples of the stories it will tell.

The Obamas’ story is rooted in the history of the South Side. Earlier this year, we celebrated the Black History of Jackson Park, the site of the future Obama Presidential Center.

We know that we can only build this Museum with the help of the local community. That’s why we’ve held a series of community collections gatherings to meet the people who made this story possible and see the Obama keepsakes that might one day appear as Museum artifacts.

Ten years ago this year, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. We spoke to one of the letter writers who helped push for health care reform, and listened to President Obama reflect on why the night the ACA passed was more meaningful than the night he was elected President.

The story of the Obama presidency is not just one of legislation passed or policies implemented, it includes days that defined the era. June 26, 2015 was one of those days—the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, President Obama’s eulogized Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who was killed alongside eight of his parishioners at Mother Emanuel AME, and the White House lit up in rainbow colors in recognition of marriage equality. This video marks the five year anniversary of that day and is narrated by those who experienced moments of change, grace, and celebration firsthand.