Tag: President Obama

How Loyola’s Medical School in Maywood Became a Sanctuary for DACA Recipients

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: Dr. Mark Kuczewski, a Stritch medical professor, in his office. | Alexa Rogals/ Wednesday Journal 

A local professor has put a medical school located in Maywood on the front lines of the national controversy surrounding President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA.

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In Maywood, Community Leaders Lament President Barack Obama’s Departure

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President Barack Obama delivers his Farewell Address on Jan. 10 in Chicago. | Getty Images/Bloomberg

Thursday, January 12, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

On Thursday afternoon, Maywood Park District Commissioner Bill Hampton was still basking in the reflected glow of President Barack Obama’s Farewell Address, delivered two days earlier on Jan. 10 before a crowd of around 18,000 people in Chicago’s McCormick Place.

Hampton had been given two tickets to the historic speech — one for himself and another for his mother, Iberia, who died last October at the age 94. Hampton took his sister in his late mother’s place.

“I thought the speech was really good,” Hampton said during a regular meeting of the Maywood-Proviso Rotary Club, held Jan. 12 inside of the Meal of the Day Cafe, located on the fourth floor of Eisenhower Tower, 1701 S. 1st Ave.

“I thought it would be a little longer, but it was good. With all that’s going on in Chicago, I thought him being here would help us with our problems,” Hampton said. “I was glad to get invited.”

During the Rotary meeting — which featured a speech by Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, a former foreign minister for Liberia who is running for president of that country — numerous civic leaders shared their thoughts on the country Obama inherited and the one he’ll be leaving behind.

“I loved his presidency from beginning to end,” said former village trustee, former village clerk and Rotarian Gary Woll. “That doesn’t mean I didn’t think, at times, that he should’ve pushed harder or sooner on things. My wife and I cried a little bit when we were watching the speech in our home. It was like a campaign rally.”

Woll said that he was proud that his north Maywood neighborhood voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton, Obama’s preferred successor, by nearly 90 percent over Republican Donald Trump.


Maywood-Proviso Rotary Club President-elect Talei Thompson interviews Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, whose running for president of Liberia, during a Rotary meeting Thursday afternoon. | Michael Romain/VFP

“That was the exact same percentage Obama received on the north side of Maywood four years ago,” Woll said.

Debra Vines, the executive director and founder of The Answer, Inc., the autism awareness nonprofit, was among many civic leaders who praised Obama’s performance over his two terms.

“He did a lot for people with disabilities,” Vines said, adding to the accomplishments voiced by others.

“He made so much progress,” said Rotarian Karen Thompson. “So much has improved over the last eight years. Unemployment went down and the economy has shown so much improvement.”

Barbara Cole, the founder and executive director of Maywood Youth Mentoring, said that, although she was encouraged by the president’s passion for community involvement, she was also disappointed by his inaction on an issue close to her heart.

“I was disappointed that he didn’t create a commission to study the impact of slavery on African Americans,” Cole said. “I was hoping he would announce it in his farewell speech. Hopefully, he’ll still do it.”

If there were other areas where the nation’s first black president failed, it wasn’t for a lack of trying, said some leaders.

“The Republicans have not said a positive word about him,” said Maywood author Mary Morris, who recently published a new calendar book called “Kings and Queens of Ancient and Modern Africa.”

Morris said she’s currently working on an essay about how two Republican politicians, in particular, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — both of whom ran for president last year in the Republican Primary — have treated the outgoing Democratic president.

“Everything that comes out of their mouths about Obama is ugly,” Morris said. “They don’t know what they’re doing to their grandchildren. Obama’s presidency, I think, has been awesome. My dad worked for General Motors and Obama brought that company back from the brink and some people still can’t say a single good word about him.”


Barbara Cole and Mary Morris during a Jan. 12 Rotary meeting. | Michael Romain/VFP

Leonor Sanchez, the deputy clerk for Broadview, reinforced Morris’s opinions about Republican efforts to block Obama’s agenda.

“He was the hope,” she said. “He tried his best to implement as many things as possible, but he was bombarded with people constantly trying to block his agenda.”

Alexander Gbayee, Liberia’s former Consul General in Chicago, said that he recalls Obama’s days on the South Side, when the future president was still just a rising community organizer. The years that have been marked by the president’s rise, Gbayee said, are ones that people of African descent all over can take pride in.

“We’re very, very proud of him,” Gbayee said. “While he was in office, he didn’t make us feel shame in any way. He’s a very brilliant person and he carried himself in a dignified way. All black people should be proud of him. It’s a loss, but I think we’ve made some progress. He brought us as blacks to the table. I hate to see him go. I don’t know what will happen once Trump takes over.”

Ngafuan touted Rotary International’s motto of “service above self” as a possible antidote to a world marred by self-interest, corruption and greed.

“Whether in public or private service,” Ngafuan said, “ I believe our world can be a better place for a critical mass of people. I move to light the candle wherever we see darkness; for as Martin Luther King once said, ‘The time is always right to do the right thing.’” VFP

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State Rep Seeks Support for White House Reparations Petition

Ford.jpgFriday, December 30, 2016 || By Lee Edwards for Austin Weekly News || @maywoodnews

State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (8th) may not represent Proviso Township, but he’s calling on citizens from all over the state to sign a petition to “urge President Obama to establish a study on the impact of slavery in America.”

The petition is designed to leverage support for a house resolution with a recommendation similar to that in the petition.

“I think [a study of slavery’s impact] will help with the first black president of the United States to leave a legacy of having the history of slavery being told in America the right way,” said Ford in a recent interview. “Of course, [Barack Obama] doesn’t have slave blood. His wife and two daughters have slave blood. The tragedy of slavery in this country has been misunderstood.”

Ford sponsored House Resolution 1011 in the Illinois General Assembly, which calls for outgoing President Barack Obama to commission a study on the economic impact of slavery in the United States and analyze how paying reparations affects other ethnicities, among other actions.

The resolution, which passed the Illinois House of Representatives in June, was co-sponsored by West Side state Rep. Camille Y. Lilly (78th) and several other legislators. Currently, however, the measure doesn’t have a senate co-sponsor nor has it been brought to the senate floor for consideration.

In order to leverage support for the resolution, Ford recently started the online petition on the White House’s website urging the president to establish a study on slavery’s impact in America. Currently, Ford’s petition, which was launched on Dec. 6, has fewer than 1,000 signatures. White House online petitions set a standard goal of 100,000 signatures within 30 days. Ford’s petition closes on Jan. 4.

Ford said he hasn’t received much support from many African American elected officials or community partners, but he believes that will change once the public is made aware of his petition.

Petition or no petition, though, Ford insisted that he’ll keep pressing the issue.

“I’m going to continue to push this until the story is told in America about the impact of slavery,” said Ford. “We can talk about crime bills and all sorts of things, but until we find out what causes the problems in the black community, we’re never going to be as great as we could be in America.”

Ford said the study is “perfectly timed,” because the incoming Trump Administration would be in a prime position to complete the study. He stated the new administration’s attention on this issue could be one of many ways to recognize and support the various concerns facing the African Americans community.

Reparations to minorities in the United States is not unprecedented. For instance, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which acknowledged and apologized for the wrongful internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The legislation created an education fund for the purpose of educating the public about the wrong and issued $20,000 checks to survivors of the camps. VFP

To sign Ford’s petition, click here. To read the resolution, click here

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