The business of honoring Obama’s legacy is turning out to be another reminder of the nation’s bitter divide, with one side eager to salute the first black president and another positioned in stark opposition.
Illinois isn’t the only place where efforts are underway to memorialize Obama, who closed out his eight-year tenure with high favorability ratings.
In California, a state senator recently proposed naming a portion of the Ventura Freeway “President Barack H. Obama Freeway,” as a way of flagging that the president had attended Occidental College in Eagle Rock in 1979. In New Jersey, the Jersey City school board agreed last fall to name a public school after Obama — but only after a political clash on the board and a series of public meetings. In January, New Albany, Indiana, renamed one of its streets “Barack Obama Way” with the mayor crediting Obama’s stimulus plans with helping the town create jobs and redevelop a 40-acre site into an industrial park.
Even if a full-fledged state holiday doesn’t happen anytime soon in Illinois, lawmakers have alternatives in the pipeline: bills to name two different highways after the president and a proposal to have an “Obama Day” without the day off from work.