In Chicago, Obama’s legacy is visible

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A mural at Glenwood and Lunt in Rogers Park commemorates the kick off of Obama's U.S. Senate campaign at the adjacent Heartland Cafe. - DANIELLE A. SCRUGGS
  • Danielle A. Scruggs
  • A mural at Glenwood and Lunt in Rogers Park commemorates the kick off of Obama's U.S. Senate campaign at the adjacent Heartland Cafe.

As the world watched Donald Trump take the oath as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, I traveled across the city where the 44th, Barack Obama, left his mark—literally and figuratively. Photos, murals, and other images of Barack, Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha linger in storefronts in Hyde Park and pop up on buildings and viaducts in Bronzeville, Garfield Park, and Rogers Park.

For me, Obama's legacy is complicated and not flawless. But I also understand the gravity and thrill of being able to recognize myself and my own relatives in the family that, for the past eight years, occupied the nation's highest seat of power. What for so long seemed impossible became reality—and almost, but never quite, mundane. 


While the Trump administration seems intent on quickly reversing much of the progress of the Obama years, one thing is clear: in Chicago, at least, America's first black president endures.

Photos in the window of Viking Beauty Supply on Hyde Park Boulevard
  • Photos in the window of Viking Beauty Supply on Hyde Park Boulevard
A "THANKS OBAMA" sign at the corner of Hyde Park Boulevard and Lake Park
  • A "THANKS OBAMA" sign at the corner of Hyde Park Boulevard and Lake Park
Detail of the Wall of Respect, a mural located at 47th and Champlain in Bronzeville
  • Detail of the Wall of Respect, a mural located at 47th and Champlain in Bronzeville
Another painting of Obama at 47th and Saint Lawrence, also in Bronzeville
  • Another painting of Obama at 47th and Saint Lawrence, also in Bronzeville
obama_murals-6.jpg
Another Bronzeville mural, this one at 40th Street and King Drive, was first painted in 1995; it was restored and updated in 2015 to add Barack Obama's likeness.
  • Another Bronzeville mural, this one at 40th Street and King Drive, was first painted in 1995; it was restored and updated in 2015 to add Barack Obama's likeness.
A detail of the King Drive mural
  • A detail of the King Drive mural
A mural at Kedzie and Van Buren in Garfield Park depicts Oprah, Barack and Michelle Obama, Coretta Scott and Martin Luther King, and filmmaker Tyler Perry.
  • A mural at Kedzie and Van Buren in Garfield Park depicts Oprah, Barack and Michelle Obama, Coretta Scott and Martin Luther King, and filmmaker Tyler Perry.
Detail of the Kedzie and Van Buren mural
  • Detail of the Kedzie and Van Buren mural
The mural quotes Barack: "We are the change that we seek."
  • The mural quotes Barack: "We are the change that we seek."

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