Obama Presidential Center Symposium to be held at U. of C. next month

By TONIA HILL
Staff Writer

A public symposium on the future Barack Obama Presidential Center will be held at the University of Chicago (U. of C.) on Wednesday, March 7, at the Kent Hall Auditorium, 1020 E. 58th St., from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

National and local experts during the symposium will address topics related to the Obama Center. Issues that will be discussed include the use of public parkland for the site, related roadway projects in and around the site.

As well as, calls for a community benefits agreement, transparency and community involvement in decision making regarding the Obama Center and calls for making U. of C.’s winning bid public, and much more.

The symposium is a follow-up to an open letter penned by U. of C. faculty members last month that expressed support for the creation of the Obama Center and also raised concerns about the project. 200 faculty members signed the letter.

“In the best University of Chicago tradition, this gathering is meant to be an educational event involving a multidisciplinary gathering of local and national experts,” said W. J. T. Mitchell, Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor English and Art History, and co-author of the letter from U. of C. faculty, in a written statement. “It will also be a tribute to the historic legacy of our colleague and neighbor, President Obama.”

The Obama Foundation has been invited to send a representative to participate in the discussion, according to the announcement.

The program will also include a moderated panel discussion followed by a question and answer session with the audience. The panelists are leading figures in architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning and community benefits.

Confirmed participants include Charles A. Birnbaum, president and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation in Washington, D.C. and Naomi Davis, Esq., founder of Blacks in Green and Bronzeville Regional Collective.

Others on the panel include Barbara Ransby, professor of African American Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago; Michael Sorkin, principal of Michael Sorkin Studio in New York and Jacqueline Stewart, professor of the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at U. of C.

Ransby will serve as moderator of the panel.

The event is free and open to the public though registration is required. To register or to find out more information about the symposium visit https://www.opcsymposium.com/.

t.hill@hpherald.com