Chicago - Oct. 20, 2017
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Rhymefest Leads Obama Library CBA Effort

Hundreds of community residents will gather at Hyde Park Academy High School, 6220 S. Stony Island, at 6 p.m. today for a meeting announcing a renewed push for a Community Benefits Agreement with the Obama Library that includes the City, the University of Chicago, and the Obama Foundation.

The Obama Library Community Benefit Agreement Coalition will announce a new push for a City Community Benefits Agreement Ordinance which would ensure benefits around jobs, housing, sustainability, transportation and education.

Che "Rhymefest" Smith, hip-artist and community activist, will keynote the event in support of a Community Benefits Agreement. The Coalition will also announce new ally organizations, which now number over a dozen.

This meeting comes after Obama asserted last week that his global not-for-profit will not enter into a legally binding agreement with communities impacted by his presidential library.

He spoke on Thursday via teleconference at a public forum on the development. The Coalition camped overnight outside of the meeting's venue to ensure that they'd be able to have their questions answered directly by the Foundation's leaders.

"On behalf of the thousands of Chicago residents who have been mired by lack of employment, contracts, and access to capital, we will continue to urge the City of Chicago, the University of Chicago, the Obama Foundation, and other partners in this development to sign a much-needed Community Benefits Agreement," said Anton Seals Jr., of the Bronzeville Regional Collective.

"We are pushing for a City Community Benefit Agreement Ordinance because that can provide homeowners and low-income renters protection from displacement by surges in housing prices and rental stock - protection that the Foundation cannot provide without city policy.

"Already this year, Woodlawn has seen the third-highest relative increase in home values in the country, threatening increased rents and property taxes."

The Obama Library CBA Coalition says in a statement: "We are calling not only for transparency and accountability on how public dollars will be used as the Obama Presidential Center is realized. We are calling for something stronger than a handshake agreement that everyday citizens will not be harmed by land-grabs and the new revitalization efforts coming to Bronzeville, Jackson Park, South Shore, Woodlawn, and other predominantly African-American communities nearby to the west.

"As lifelong Chicagoans, we are not new to the political games. People should not have to sacrifice their homes for the Obama library. This public/private project, like others headed our way, has the potential to put people to work, stimulate local economies, strengthen neighboring public schools, and create economic engines for small businesses, and more growth and opportunity - if it is legally accountable to the community it seeks to benefit.

"We are proud the Obama Foundation chose Jackson Park. We now call on the former president to make history again: With the City and others, sign a Community Benefits Agreement and demonstrate that the words you've spoken about inclusion, transparency, and global problem-solving have meaning."

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ObamaCBA.org, @ObamaCBA

This event is being organized by the Obama-Library CBA Coalition, led by the Bronzeville Regional Collective (BRC), Kenwood Oakland Community Org. (KOCO), Prayer and Action Collective (PAC), Southside Together Organizing Power (STOP) - with support from Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights.

Allied with Alliance of the Southeast (ASE), Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (BPNC), Chicago Jobs Council (CJC), the Chicago Rehab Network, Chicago Women in Trades (CWIT), Metropolitan Tenants Organization (MTO), Showing up for Racial Justice (SURJ), Wolfpack, Woodlawn East Community And Neighbors (WECAN).

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See also: Obama's Rejection Of Community Benefits Deal Still A Win, Activists Say.

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Previously: Why No Community Benefits Agreement For The Obama Library?

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on September 20, 2017


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