Obama Presidential Center receives its largest-ever gift: $100 million

The Chicago monument (not a presidential library) to the sheer wonderfulness of Barack Obama — that is taking up acres of prime lakefront parkland designed by Frederick Law Olmstead — just got a huge gift.  Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and owner of the left-wing Washington Post (among other rich guy baubles), is supplying the money and asking in return that the plaza in front of it be named after someone else.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

Jeff Bezos is donating $100 million to the Obama Presidential Foundation, its biggest individual contribution to date, the foundation announced Monday.

As part of the deal, Bezos, one of the richest people in the world, asked for the plaza in the Obama Presidential Center to be named for the late Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the civil rights icon who died in 2020.

Lewis sported a steel plate in his skull after a beating received crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama during a civil rights march, and he gained semi-mythic status thereby.  He went on to become a long-serving congressman, a mainstay of the Congressional Black Caucus, and a merchant of accusations of racism.  Unfortunately, toward the end of his life, he squandered some of his moral standing with false accusations of racism and racist behavior.

Most notoriously, in 2010, he and some colleagues accused members of a Tea Party rally protesting Obamacare of calling out the "N-word" at him and colleagues who walked through the crowd.  Andrew Breitbart offered $100,000 to anyone who could produce video of such an incident.  Despite the presence of many cell phones recording the event, nobody was able to claim the rich sum of money, casting serious doubt on the integrity of the man that Bezos now wants to immortalize by naming the OPC plaza after him.

The Obama monument under construction in Chicago is not part of the presidential library system, but after considerable mockery (including on these pages) of its planned lack of books, it will now house a branch of the Chicago Public Library.  It will also offer other amenities:

The center will have, besides the plaza, a museum tower, a Chicago Public Library branch, a forum, a combination athletic/meeting center, garden, recording studio, children's play area and a "great lawn."

Bezos says of his gift:

"Freedom fighters deserve a special place in the pantheon of heroes, and I can't think of a more fitting person to honor with this gift than John Lewis, a great American leader and a man of extraordinary decency and courage," said Jeff Bezos in a statement. "I'm thrilled to support President and Mrs. Obama and their Foundation in its mission to train and inspire tomorrow's leaders."

This image, courtesy of the Obama Foundation, depicts the John Lewis Plaza:

Based on my experience with open spaces in front of tall structures, I fear that the plaza will be very windy, especially since it is so near the lakeshore.  During Chicago's long winters, traversing it in the face of strong gusts of wind may be tricky.  I am not certain that a Southerner like the late Rep. Lewis would enjoy such a space named after him, were he alive and able to walk across it in February.

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