First-of-kind reunion expected to draw thousands of Obamaworld veterans
Thousands of Obamaworld veterans are coming together in Chicago to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Barack Obama's groundbreaking presidential victory, which took place on November 4, 2008, in a joyous celebration at Grant Park. This reunion, their first official gathering, marks a significant milestone in American political history.
Natalie Bookey-Baker, Vice President at the Obama Foundation, who previously worked for then-First Lady Michelle Obama in the White House, anticipates the participation of approximately 2,500 alumni. These dedicated individuals served in various capacities during Obama's two Chicago-based White House campaigns, his two terms as President, related political operations, and his foundation.
The reunion's activities, both formal and informal, will span from Thursday through Saturday, with the main events scheduled for Friday at McCormick Place. These events will follow the conclusion of the Obama Presidential Foundation's 2023 Democracy Forum.
The timing of this reunion is significant, occurring just a year before the 2024 presidential election, amid ongoing threats to democratic institutions that have deepened political divides.
David Axelrod, the top strategist for Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns, emphasized the ongoing battle between hope and cynicism in democracy, acknowledging the current prevalence of cynicism. He highlighted the importance of the reunion as a means to renew faith and commitment to a better future.
Johanna Maska, an early hire in Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, expressed the need for inspiration and the belief that it could be found by reconnecting with the diverse community that helped elect President Obama.
The reunion includes various events, such as an interview with Barack Obama by the "Pod Save America" crew, speeches by Michelle Obama and former Obama aides Jen Psaki and Kal Penn, and a performance by Grammy-winning musician Jon Batiste.
Besides the main Friday event at McCormick Place, there are at least 29 other gatherings at different venues around the city, allowing participants to relive their shared experiences and celebrate the legacy of the Obama presidency.