Barack Obama surprises Chicago high school students

Barack Obama surprised Chicago Public Schools high school students during a virtual assembly when he dropped in to announce that all CPS high school students will receive free access to digital copies of ‘A Promised Land’ President Obama’s riveting, deeply personal account of history in the making during his time in office.

All CPS high school students were invited to tune-in to the livestream with hundreds of students participating in the Zoom call. 

Chicago Public Schools CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson introduced Obama, calling him a “lifelong proponent of social justice and a believer that normal, everyday people can make a difference.”

“I really wrote this book with you in mind,” Obama said. “I want young people to understand … the ability for you to have an impact in this world.” He said he wanted to share “what I was thinking about as a young man and how I got involved in small ways initially and then in larger ways over time. And the life of my community — how Chicago taught me about my own voice and my own power and what I could do to make a difference.”

Barack Obama

Obama added during the virtual assembly that he plans to hold follow-up conversations about his memoir with CPS students, potentially through “a little book club” in the new year where he can answer questions.

Obama added, “Tell your family, too, that we wish them happy holidays, and that 2021 is going to be a better year than 2020.”

Here is the video of this special event. 

All Chicago Public Schools high school students and teachers have access to digital copies of A Promised Land which is published by Crown, an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group. The books are available in e-book and audiobook formats in both English and Spanish through the generosity of Penguin Random House and OverDrive Education, through its Sora student reading app. Students and teachers can access the book at CPS’ internal website library.cps.edu

Chicago Public Schools serves 341,000 students in 638 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.


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