Mayor Rahm ditches plans to name Chicago high school after Obama in white neighborhood

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You know things are not going well for President Obama when his home city scraps plans to name a high school after him — and the effort was led by his former chief of staff, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

How things have changed.

When Obama gave his victory speech on Nov. 4, 2008, in Chicago’s Grant Park, the crowd was positively euphoric over his improbable win.

President-elect Obama told jubilant Chicagoans on that magical evening that “change has come to America,” and boy, did it ever. The funny thing about change, though, is that it’s always changing.

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With Obama dogged by record-low approval ratings, Emanuel announced Thursday that the city had abandoned plans to name a new elite high school after the president, according to the Chicago Tribune.

To be fair, the decision has more to do with the fact that the $60 million school the city had chosen to name after the first black president was built in a wealthy, predominantly white part of town, which did not sit well with African-American leaders.

“If they’re going to name a school after President Obama, they should put it somewhere else,” South Side Alderwoman Carrie Austin told the Tribune. “Either in Roseland, where he got his start, or in the Hyde Park area, where he lived and has a home. To put it [on the near North Side], that just doesn’t look right.”

Considering a 2013 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll said race relations in the country have plummeted since Obama was first elected, it seems only fitting that the disagreement centers on race.

“Over the last few months, my team has listened to questions and concerns from the community, ranging from location of the building to the naming of the school,” Emanuel said in a statement. “We take that community input seriously, which is why – as we continue to look for a thoughtful way to honor President Obama – we will look for other possible names for this future school.”

The Tribune pointed out that a recent poll showed “nearly 6 in 10 black voters disapprove of the mayor’s performance,” and with February 2015 municipal elections fast approaching, Emanuel is in no position to ignore concerns over the school’s name.


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