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If you don’t know the name Jahmal Cole by now, you will shortly.

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The activist from Chatham (the same neighborhood that Chance the Rapper grew up in) is the founder of My Block, My Hood, My City, a non-profit that provides tours to teenagers from under-resourced communities around the city to expose them to various arts, cuisines and cultures.

Cole’s story is one of many being told in a new series of videos created by the Obama Foundation. The series interviews community members from various organizations and businesses about what they love about their neighborhoods and to correct negative perceptions some people might have.


The video series has reached out to community members in neighborhoods like Pilsen, Englewood and Grand Boulevard, which although are not necessarily that close to where the Obama Presidential Center will be, are still integral parts to the South Side.

The foundation has been releasing videos on their social media page to spotlight community members who have been working in their communities for years.

Other interviews in the series include Margo Strutter of Ain’t She Sweet Cafe, Michael Reynolds at the Sweet Water Foundation, Erika Allen from Growing Power Chicago and more.

With plans for the Obama Foundation to take over Jackson Park, many are wondering the impact that the center will have on the community both financially and in local and national perceptions of the area. Strutter anticipates the Center will positively impact the area.

The Chicago Tribune wrote about some of the people involved with making the video series, like Michael Strautmanis, the vice president for civic engagement with the Obama Foundation.

Strautmanis says the foundation isn’t looking to recast the South Side or looking to create allies with stakeholders, but rather “it’s the foundation’s way of using its platform as a megaphone for others who have been organizing for years before the center was even launched.”

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Cole has a book being released later this month on September 30 called “Exposure is Key.” There will be a release party at the Stony Island Arts Bank with an open bar and entertainment.

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