He's Ba-aack: Obama to Give Community Organizing Speech in Chicago

President Barack Obama speaks about his Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, Thursday, April 7, 2016, at the University of Chicago Law School in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Former President Barack Obama is back from a series of exotic, celebrity-filled island vacations, and returning to Chicago to do what he loves best — give a speech to a fawning college crowd.


On Monday, Obama will give his first speech since leaving the White House at the University of Chicago. It’s expected to be a self-reflective examination of what the Democrats got wrong in 2016, and what they can do to improve their image going forward.

Naw, I’m just kidding. The discussion will focus on “community organizing and civic engagement,” the Chicago Tribune reports:

Hundreds of people are expected to attend, chosen from area universities that were given tickets for distribution, said Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for the former president. About six young people will appear on stage with him for the 11 a.m. discussion, Lewis said.

The event will be a homecoming for Obama on multiple levels. He formerly taught constitutional law at the U. of C. and his family has a home nearby in the Kenwood neighborhood. It also lets the former president, who came to Chicago to work as a young community organizer, fulfill one of the commitments he set out for his post-presidential years: to engage and work with the country’s next generation of leaders, Lewis said.

“This event is part of President Obama’s post-presidency goal to encourage and support the next generation of leaders driven by strengthening communities around the country and the world,” an advisory said.

No tickets remain for distribution to the general public, but the event will be televised. Former first lady Michelle Obama is not expected to accompany her husband on the trip, Lewis said.

Among the schools given tickets are the U. of C., Northwestern University, Loyola University Chicago, University of Illinois Chicago, Roosevelt University and Chicago State University, Lewis said. Minority-serving organizations also were given tickets, he said.

The participants on stage with Obama are expected to range from high school to college to recent university graduates. According to Lewis, they have all been chosen and are from the Chicago area, but their names were not released Friday.


“He’s really excited to go back to Chicago and have a conversation about community organizing and civic engagement,” said Lewis. Longtime Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett said that Obama is “looking forward to getting involved again.”

Obama will also travel to Boston next month to receive the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Profile in Courage award on May 7.


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