Thursday was the deadline for semi-finalists to submit their proposals to host the Barack Obama presidential library and both the University of Chicago and University of Illinois at Chicago made the list.
Two other universities – the University of Hawaii of Honolulu, the president’s birth city, and Columbia University in New York, where Obama received his undergraduate degree – are also in the running.
On the day the proposals were due to be delivered to the Obama Foundation, some gathered in the president's hometown of Hyde Park to protest the South Side university's plans, saying the University of Chicago should be taken off the list of contenders due to not having a trauma center for their predominently African-American community.
“If the University of Chicago can’t provide the people of the South Side with a trauma center then they should not be provided with the honor of hosting President Obama’s library,” said protestor Veronica Morris Moore with the organization Trauma Care Coalition.
Susan Sher is leading the University of Chicago’s bid for the library and formerly served as Michelle Obama’s chief of staff.
“The trauma center issue, which is a serious question, has nothing whatsoever to do with the importance of bringing a presidential library to the South Side,” Sher said.
On the same day, UIC held a rally at a West Side school, enlisting the help of former NBA star and Chicago native Isiah Thomas.
“You want to go to the place that needs it the most and the West Side, from the community standpoint, needs it the most,” Thomas said.
Whether the South or West Side institution wins the bid to become the home of the Obama library, Sher believes either choice would be a win for the city overall.
“This is where the Obamas’ have found their careers and made their home,” Sher said. “No matter who wins, if it’s Chicago i know we’ll all rally together.”
President Obama and the first lady are set to announce the winning university by the end of March 2015.