Friday, February 1, 2019

The Biography of Chicagoan and former First Lady, Michelle Obama.

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was born on January 17, 1964, in Chicago, Illinois, to parents Fraser and Marian Robinson.
Baby Michelle LaVaughn Robinson
Although Fraser’s modest pay as a city-pump operator led to cramped living in their South Shore bungalow, the Robinsons were a close-knit family, with Michelle and older brother Craig pushed to excel in school. Both children skipped the second grade, and Michelle was later chosen for a gifted-student program that enabled her to take French and advanced biology courses.

Making the lengthy daily trip to attend Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Michelle became student council treasurer and a member of the National Honor Society before graduating as class salutatorian in 1981.
High School Graduation Picture.
She then followed her brother to Princeton University, where she created a reading program for the children of the school’s manual laborers. A sociology major with a minor in African-American studies, she explored the connections between the school’s black alumni and their communities in her senior thesis, graduating cum laude in 1985.
After earning her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1988, Michelle joined the Chicago office of the law firm Sidley Austin as a junior associate specializing in marketing and intellectual property. Assigned to mentor a summer intern named Barack Obama, she deflected his initial romantic advancements before they began dating. They were engaged within two years, and married at the Trinity United Church of Christ on October 3, 1992.
Wedding at Trinity United Church of Christ, October 3, 1992.
Michelle left corporate law in 1991 to pursue a career in public service, enabling her to fulfill a personal passion and create networking opportunities that would benefit her husband’s future political career. Initially an assistant to Chicago mayor Richard Daley, she soon became the city’s assistant commissioner of planning and development. In 1993, she was named executive director for the Chicago branch of Public Allies, a leadership-training program for young adults. Moving on to the University of Chicago as associate dean of student services, she developed the school’s first community-service program.

When Obama decided to run for Illinois state senator in 1996, Michelle proved a disciplined campaign aide by canvassing for signatures and throwing fundraising parties. However, their victory presented the family with new challenges; following the births of daughters Malia (1998) and Sasha (2001), Michelle often had to juggle the demands of work and child-rearing alone with her husband tending to business in the state capital of Springfield.

Successful despite the difficulties, Michelle was named executive director of community relations and external affairs for the University of Chicago Hospitals in 2002. She was promoted to vice president after three years, and served on the boards of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, but eventually scaled back her work hours and commitments to support Obama’s entry into the U.S. presidential race.
First Lady Michelle Obama.
Initially criticized for her candor, Michelle soon proved an asset on the campaign trail with her knack for delivering relatable stories about her family. In addition to becoming the first African-American first lady upon Obama’s Election Day victory in 2008, she became the third with a post-graduate degree.

Michelle sought to tie her own agendas to her husband’s larger legislative goals, notably targeting the epidemic of childhood obesity while the Affordable Care Act was being created.
In 2009, she worked with local elementary school students to plant a 1,100-square-foot vegetable garden on the South Lawn of the White House. The following year she launched the Let’s Move! initiative to promote healthy eating and physical activity.

In 2011, Michelle co-founded the Joining Forces program to expand educational and employment options for veterans and to raise awareness about the difficulties plaguing military families. After helping Obama win a second term in office, she formed the Reach Higher initiative to inspire young people to explore higher education and career-development opportunities.
The First Family with Portuguese Water Dogs
Sunny (Male) and Bo (Female).
Continuing the family theme of her campaign speeches, the first lady stressed the importance of remaining a diligent parent and brought her mother to live with her in the White House. She was also recognized for an ability to connect to younger generations by remaining attuned to popular culture. Embracing the use of social media, she encouraged fans to follow her progress on her Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, and proved willing to bring her messages to audiences by appearing in humorous sketches online and on television.

Michelle Obama's memoir, "Becoming," topped 3.4 million book sales in its first month.
Published November 13, 2018, "Becoming" is among the fastest-selling nonfiction books in history and already among the best-selling memoirs of all time.
Michelle Obama kicked off her book tour at Chicago's United Center with guest interviewer Oprah Winfrey.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Celebrating the first day of Black history month (Feb. 1, 2019), I selected President Barack Obama as my first presention.

Barack Hussein Obama II was born in 1961 in Hawaii, where his black father and white mother had met. His mother, Ann Dunham, moved there with her parents from Kansas following World War II. His father, Barack Obama, Sr., grew up in rural Kenya, and earned a scholarship that enabled him to study at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where Ann was also a student. They married in 1961, and had one child.
Official Presidential Photograph
The couple separated when Obama was two years old, and in 1964, they divorced. Barack Senior returned to Kenya, leaving Ann to raise her son. Her struggles as a working single mother made an early impression on Barack, as did her values of service and compassion. She remarried, and the family moved to her husband’s home country of Indonesia in 1967 where Obama remained until he was 10 years old. He then returned to Honolulu and was subsequently raised by his maternal grandparents. After graduating from high school, he studied at Occidental College in Los Angeles for two years, then transferred to Columbia University in New York City where he majored in political science and graduated in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Obama spent several years working in New York, and relocated to Chicago in 1985. There, he began working with the Developing Communities Project, a church-based organization, as a community organizer, committed to destitute areas affected by high unemployment and crime. His achievements were significant, but as a result of the experience, he came to understand that effecting real change would require action at the level of the political and legal systems. Obama visited Kenya in 1988, where he met many of his deceased father’s relatives for the first time. He was accepted at Harvard Law School that year, graduating in 1991 after serving as the first black president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review. This resulted in a contract for him to write a book about race relations, which became the memoir "Dreams from My Father."

Returning to Chicago shortly thereafter, Obama began teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago, while practicing as a civil and neighborhood rights attorney and serving on numerous social action boards of directors. In 1992, he married Michelle Robinson, whom he’d met in 1989 as a summer associate at the Chicago law firm where she worked. Living in Chicago's Hyde park neighborhood, they had two daughters, Malia born in 1999 and Natasha (nicknamed Sasha) born in 2001.
Following his path of progressive social action, Obama then ran for and was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996. He served there for three terms and eight years, often reaching out to unify Republicans and Democrats to achieve important goals and progressive policies in areas such as taxation, welfare reform, and education.

Obama had run unsuccessfully in the Illinois Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000. Nevertheless, in 2003, he began campaigning for a seat in the U.S. Senate. At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, he was exposed to a national audience for the first time when he delivered the keynote address. The response was immediate, with political insiders citing his presidential potential, and ordinary Americans resonating with his message of unity and promise as expressed by the speech’s title, “The Audacity of Hope.” Propelled by this electrifying debut, he won the primary and general election for the Senate in 2004 by the largest margin in Illinois history, and became only the third African American so honored since Reconstruction.

Acknowledged by his Senate peers as an exceptionally promising freshman, Obama continued to work with leaders from both parties in a spirit of bipartisan cooperation to create important legislation. He served on the Foreign Relations, Environment and Public Works, and Veterans’ Affairs Committees, and worked on arms proliferation, climate change, and ethics reform among other notable achievements. In 2006, he published a second book titled "The Audacity of Hope," which climbed to the top of the best-seller lists.
A sign of respect for the Jewish venue President Obama was speaking at.
On February 10, 2007, with Senator Hillary Clinton the self-described presumptive Democratic nominee for President in the 2008 election, Obama announced his unlikely candidacy for the office at the site of President Abraham Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech of 1858. Shattering fund-raising records and enlisting a vast army of small contributors, Obama emerged victorious in June of that year despite controversies over his former pastor that led to Obama’s historic speech on race entitled “A More Perfect Union.” In a difficult, and frequently acrimonious general campaign against Republican nominee Senator John McCain, Obama distinguished himself with his poise and articulate focus on key issues affecting all Americans, and continued to raise record-breaking sums from a growing grassroots base of support. His choice of Senator Joe Biden, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as running mate offered a stark contrast to the Republican Vice Presidential nominee, as did his constant message of hope and unity epitomized by the hugely popular refrain, “Yes we can.”

Over the course of the campaign, Obama steadily established and widened a leading margin in polls, which accelerated with the deterioration of the U.S. economy in the fall of 2008. Toward the end of the contest, he campaigned actively in Republican strongholds, seeking a broad mandate from the electorate to enact his theme of “The change we need.”

On November 4, 2008, history was made. Obama became the 44th President-Elect of the United States with a landslide victory, the first Black elected to the highest office in America. One hundred and forty-six years after the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans’ march toward freedom, civil rights, equity, and full participation culminated in the leadership of this nation. A dream too long deferred had been realized. A new chapter in American history had begun.

In October 2009, Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Obama responded to the honor with surprise and humility, saying that the award was a "call to action" to engage other nations around the world to promote peace. 

The second term of Barack Obama as President and Joe Biden as Vice President took place on Sunday, January 20, 2013 in the Blue Room of the White House.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Deer Haven Kiddie Park, Fox Lake, Illinois (1960-1967)

Deer Haven Kiddie Park was located on Route 59 one mile north of Routes 12 & 59 junction. Al Kean and Edward Reich were the owners of this 19.3-acre park.
It was a very small amusement park with a miniature train, pony rides, picnic facilities, a restaurant, refreshment stands and deer so tame that young children could feed them by hand.
White Tailed Deer
Their tag-line was "Go on a See-nik Pic-nik." They boasted about their Fairy-Tail Forest, where children could see deer, monkeys, birds, buffalo, lambs, goats and lots of bunnies.

A July 10, 1962 Chicago Tribune article states:
"Chief Thundercloud (whose less ornate name is Scott T. Williams), who is even now holding authentic Indian dances on the grounds of Deer Haven at Fox Lake, Ill., is a four greats grandson of Chief Pontiac. When Chief Thundercloud decided to devote his life to Indian lore, he was confronted with a terrific hurdle, as he had made the mistake of getting an engineering degree from a Boston college. While there, he picked up quite an accent, and had to work hard to shed it, as people were a little dubious about taking Indian lore from a redskin with a Boston accent."

The Chicago Tribune writes about the tragedy which happened on August 20, 1964, at Deer Haven Park:
"About 11 am, Scottie, a 30 pound baboon, worked the door open on his cage and hopped atop the park restaurant building. Kean called the Fox Lake and Round Lake police for help. Five men, including Fox Lake Police Chief Kenneth Minahan, responded. At about 11:20 am, Minahan shot Scottie with a dart from a tranquilizer gun. "The animal had been calm until then," Kena said. "Then he became excited." Scottie headed for the trees, with Kean, Reich, and the police in pursuit. He finally climbed 60 feet in a tall oak, swinging from branch to branch. The men tried in vain to lure him down with grapes and bananas. Minahan hit him five times more with tranquilizer darts. Once, Scottie seemed to totter. Otherwise, there was no effect. Finally at 3:45 pm, fearful for the safety of customers and neighbors, Minahan sighted a loaded shotgun thru the branches and leaves high above him. It took three blasts to bring Scottie down, dead. Kean, sadly, said he was a beauty - as baboons go."
In March of 1967, the park was sold to the Village of Fox Lake to form the new Fox Lake Park District with plans to build the community's first major public park. The park woud serve as a memorial to men who have died in the armed services. Plans include a baseball field, tennis courts and a swimming pool.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.