One of Chicago's "favorite sons" will be back on Wednesday for two events. Former President Barack Obama, though unconfirmed yet, is said to be attending an event set to be held at the South Shore Cultural Center, and another at the Chicago Club.
The Obamas' are playing good music with Chicago with their sweet deal of building the ex-president's future Presidential Center there, which is reportedly still in the planning stages. The target date of opening is in 2021 in historic Jackson Park on the South Side.
Chicago is also where Obama chose to re-appear on the public stage after taking some private time off to travel and unwind, and keep quiet about the political affairs affecting the U.S. Obama appeared on April 24 with young people for a conversation on civic engagement. The event was well-anticipated by some given Obama's absence from the public eye, coinciding with the first few months of the new Trump administration. The said event was held at a nostalgic place for Obama, the University of Chicago, where he formerly taught constitutional law and which is near his residence in the Kenwood neighborhood.
Obama is returning to his beloved Chicago amidst strong public backlash for reportedly receiving an astounding $400K for giving a Wall Street speech. He is also coming back to a city that is still reeling from violence, a problem that started and grew during his administration. The reality in the city is as gruesome as the seemingly discredited reputation of Obama following the revelation on his staggering earnings from the speech. The number of homicide cases in Chicago this year is nearing 200, following the recorded 23 people shot last weekend in April. Four of those shot were killed, according to the police.
The count of homicides is at 193 as of Monday morning, most of them involved fatal shootings. The figure is also about the same number of killings as this time in 2016, a year that infamously went down as the most violent in Chicago in two decades.
The number of people shot and wounded this year is down, however, from the same time last year. As of Monday morning according to the data by the Tribune, at least 1,051 people have been shot, compared to 1,129 the year before. The Chicago Police Department noted the "modest reduction" in shootings but continue to blame the violence on the "unacceptably high" number of illegally obtained guns. Three of the four shootings over the weekend happened during a mere six-hour period late Friday. The fourth fatal shooting happened around 1:45 a.m. Monday on the Southwest Side.
President Trump has previously aired concern and alarm over the record murder rate in Chicago, and even said early this year that if the Mayor can not fix the problem, then he should ask for federal help.
Before his conversation with the youth held at the University of Chicago on April 24, Obama also met a day earlier behind closed doors with at-risk youths in the Roseland neighborhood, which is also significant for the former president as he used to work in the area as a community organizer.
The Obamas now live in Washington, D.C. as younger daughter won't finish high school there until 2019, yet it remains clear that Chicago will always hold a special place in Obama's heart, and the city seems to return the love to one of its more famous "sons."
Obama's first visit in Chicago last week since his brief hiatus was special as there were those who are excited to see him and hear from him again. His return this week may not be as thrilling as he will do so with the controversy, if not moral anomaly, of the highly-paid speech following him, and with Chicago having problems of its own. It is perhaps going to be a case of a troubled son returning to an equally troubled home.