Skip to content

Sweet Home Chicago: President Obama’s summer visit to Jackson Park and the South Side

What makes Chicago one of the best cities in the world? To some, it's the delectable food. For others, it’s the breathtaking skyline and lakefront. Depending on who you root for, it’s the sports. But here at the Obama Foundation, we believe it’s the people. The changemakers, young people, business owners, and community leaders who have pushed this broad-shouldered city forward throughout history.

On our continued Road to Groundbreaking for the Obama Presidential Center, we’ve gotten to connect with even more of the amazing Chicagoans, particularly South Siders, who make this city as vibrant and engaged as it is.

Yesterday, President Obama got to meet a few of them!

President Obama surprises Chicago Southside youth football team in Jackson Park

He took in the start of another stunning Chicago summer with a stroll through Jackson Park—the home of the future Center. Along the way, he gave the Wolfpack youth football team a practice they’ll never forget.

President Obama speaks to a youth football team. The players have taken a knee as President Obama gestures towards them.
President Obama speaks to a youth football team. The players have taken a knee as President Obama gestures towards them.

After greeting players, President Obama answered a few of their questions and shared some words of encouragement, urging the Chicago youth to positively impact their communities and to keep going, even when times are tough.

From there, he continued his visit through the community that has given him and Mrs. Obama so much, stopping by a small gathering of local business owners at South Shore Brew, a local coffee shop in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago.

Obama Foundation President Valerie Jarrett joined Cheryl Gill, owner of Dust 'Em Clean (Opens in a new tab) Janitorial Services; Eric Williams, founder of Chicago institution and brand The Silver Room (Opens in a new tab); Donna Hampton Smith, Executive Director of the Washington Park Chamber of Commerce (Opens in a new tab); Tonya Love Trice, founder and owner of Slab BBQ (Opens in a new tab) and Executive Director of the South Shore Chamber of Commerce (Opens in a new tab); and South Shore Brew owner Jennifer Barnes for an evening that started with a special conversation—and ended with a big surprise:

President Obama sits with his legs crossed, listening to a group of adults speak.
A woman holds her hands in the air, gesturing while speaking to a smiling President Obama

We’re thrilled President Obama could meet with some of the young people and business owners who will be impacted positively when the Center opens, and hear from them directly about their hopes for what the world-class museum, campus, and public spaces will offer.

None of this work would be possible without support and steady engagement from our local community, and we’re thankful for all of their input along the way. You can learn more about the Obama Presidential Center and its multitude of community resources here.

The Road to Groundbreaking will include moments like these, as well as news about our innovative workforce initiative and community programming. If you’d like to receive email updates about Obama Presidential Center special announcements and first looks, you can sign up here. We hope you’ll join us!