“I am confident we will write the next great chapter in American history.” said President Obama as he addressed a large group at Hyde Park Academy.
Chicago television and radio stations interrupted regular programming to air the historic visit to the city that he calls home.
President Barack Obama was in Chicago today to talk about a wide-ranging approach he thinks the country should take to fighting gun violence.
Air Force One landed at 1:23 p.m. at O'Hare International Airport.
The president, wearing a black overcoat, walked off the jet accompanied by many members of the Illinois Congressional delegation. After a quick flight with a clear view of the skyline and the lake shore, Marine One landed at 1:48 p.m. at the Burnham Park landing zone, very close to Lake Michigan and slightly south of McCormick Place.
The president walked to his limousine and the motorcade headed to the school.
According to the Chicago Tribune, The president was at Hyde Park Academy this afternoon, where his remarks were devoted to the “ladders of opportunity” he thinks will help working families, like raising the federal minimum wage and investing in education, a senior administration official has said.
Obama’s speech opened with him saying “Hey, Chicago! Hello, Chicago! Hello, everybody. Hello, Hyde Park! It is good to be home! It is good to be home. Everybody have a seat. You all relax. It’s just me. You all know me. It is good to be back home."
Before he spoke at the school at 3:15 p.m. the president reportedly met privately with 16 students involved in a youth anti-violence program, a White House spokesman said.
During his speech, Obama devoted most of his time to the topics of gun control and gun violence.
Obama’s visit to Chicago came just days after the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton, a teenage girl killed in a shooting exactly one mile from the Obamas’ South Side home.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that after attending funeral services for Pendleton, first lady Michelle Obama invited her parents to join her in the balcony for the president’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, and the Pendleton’s were present and standing proud amidst an audience filled with tears.
Also attending were members of the Thomas Wortham family, a Chicago Police Officer who was fatally shot in front of his parents’ home in 2010 when attackers tried to rob him of a new motorcycle.
Religious leaders including the Rev. Byron Brazier, pastor of Apostolic Church of God in Woodland, and the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church, were part of the audience in Friday’s historic Chicago visit.
Politicians from Illinois and the immediate Chicago area were also in attendance. They included: Obama adviser David Axelrod and Chicago Alds. Pat Dowell, Leslie Hairston and Willie Cochran were there. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin are scheduled to attend.
Students sat in the bleachers alongside people in the community. The ROTC acted as volunteer ushers. ROTC member Timeca Donahue, 16, said the mood at the school has been "very tense and exciting."
ROTC member Lola Oni, 17, said she is “pleased that the president is trying to pass gun control laws.”
"He's an important person and people look up to him," she said. "If he does pass those laws, it will reduce some of the shooting but people still will have guns."
Reported by WGN news, Stephanie Gordon, who is the founder of the Chicago chapter of One Million Moms for Gun Control, said she “recently recruited Cleopatra Pendleton to join the group.”
Quoted in various forms of Tribune media Gordon said, "She can bring a voice. Every member has a strong voice and are flaming the fuel to bring about stronger gun laws. There are so many inconsistencies in the laws across the country. The NRA is so well funded that our voices tend to get squeezed out.”
"We don't believe strict gun laws are the only answer but they are a concrete place to start. We're hoping that Congress votes so that the community gets a vote."
The crowd at Hyde Park Academy was packed with gun control advocates.
Pam Bosley, who said her son, Terell, was fatally shot in 2006 in a crime that remains unsolved, indicated she's convinced the president's appearance in Chicago today “will signify more than just a brief political fascination with urban violence. "We're going to keep pushing this."
Chicago's homicides in recent years have numbered far below their annual total of more than 900 in the early 1990s. But while Chicago topped 500 homicides last year, the total fell below 500 in New York City, which has about three times the population of Chicago, reported the Chicago Tribune.