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Obama’s Farewell Speech Will Be in Chicago

By Dennis Robaugh,

From community organizer in Chicago to state senator, from state senator to the U.S. Senate, then a leap to the presidency — Barack Obama’s political journey comes full circle on Jan. 10 as the president plans a return home to deliver a major farewell address, according to Politico Illinois.

Sources told Natasha Korecki and Daniel Strauss, reporting for Politico, the Secret Service is reviewing McCormick Place and the United Center as potential venues.

Obama began his presidency with a rousing address in Chicago. On Election Night in 2008, Obama spoke in Grant Park after winning the presidential election. He referenced President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”

The speech was seen by millions around the world. People in Grant Park were weeping in joy, including Oprah Winfrey, one of the president’s biggest supporters. About 250,000 people crowded into downtown Chicago to watch the speech.

Obama also drew upon historic references to Martin Luther King Jr. and President Kennedy.

“… because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America,” he said. “The road ahead will be long, our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year, or even in one term — but America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.”

Eight years later, President Obama will be succeeded by Donald Trump, who campaigned on the promise he would undo much of what Obama did while in office. Last week, first lady Michelle Obama, in an interview with Winfrey, struck a somber note when she talked about the “hope” of the Obama presidency, whether that hope was fulfilled, and what comes next.

“Now we are feeling what not having hope feels like, you know,” the first lady told Oprah. “Hope is necessary. It is a necessary concept. What do you give your kids if you can’t give them hope?”

Trump’s inauguration will take place Jan. 20.

To date, President Obama has been diplomatic and helpful in speaking with and about President-elect Trump. It’s not yet known what President Obama will speak of when he bookends his presidency with a second historic address in Chicago, but Politico reports that he will thank the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois for his start in politics.

Obama’s presidential library will be built on Chicago’s South Side, in Jackson Park, at a projected cost of $500 million. The library will also be home to the Obama Foundation. It’s expected to be finished by the year 2021.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza: A snowman peeks into the Oval Office as President Barack Obama signs end-of-the-year bills, Dec. 16, 2016.

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