‘Barack Obama Day’ Just Became Law in Illinois


“August 4th of each year is designated as Barack Obama Day…who dedicated his life to protecting the rights of Americans and building bridges across communities.”

Really. No, it’s not fake news. Barack Obama Day was voted into Illinois state law by its senate and will take effect January 1, 2018. The height of this new “state holiday” will pinnacle on August 4, 2018, Mr. Obama’s birthday, for those who wish to take heed and/or celebrate.

Illinois Senate Bill 55 was passed on—you guessed it—August 4, 2017 after receiving approval from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R).

Incidentally, SB 55 was initiated on December 28, 2016 by Illinois State Sen. Emil Jones, III and 14 other senatorial co-sponsors. It reads as follows:

Sec. 3. Barack Obama Day. August 4th of each year is designated as Barack Obama Day, to be observed throughout the State as a day set apart to honor the 44th President of the United States of America who began his career serving the People of Illinois in both the Illinois State Senate and the United States Senate, and dedicated his life to protecting the rights of Americans and building bridges across communities.”

While Illinois state government flounders in incredible $265 billion debt and its pension system takes on water like a torpedoed canoe, Illinois House and Senate elected officials were at least able to put SB 55 together.

Barack Obama Presidential Expressway

The Illinois General Assembly successfully legislated a stretch of Illinois I-55 be renamed the “Barack Obama Presidential Expressway,” stipulating that the “Illinois Department of Transportation is requested to erect at suitable locations, consistent with state and federal regulations, appropriate plaques or signs giving notice of the name ‘Barack Obama Presidential Expressway.’” Aren’t mile-marker signs instrumental, assuring us there is asphalt below our tires providing traction and calculations to our destination?

Earlier in the year, Illinois lawmakers bickered over naming a stretch of expressway after the 44th president. According to the Belleville News-Democrat in its March 2017 report, “The bill passed the committee by a vote of 6-5 with Democrats approving and Republicans opposing.”

Even getting Barack Obama Day was tough to get passed. Per Fox2News.com, it fell six votes short of meeting muster and lay dormant for a spell.

“Chicago Democratic Rep. Sonya Harper says it would honor a man who adopted Chicago as his home and served in the Illinois State Senate. But Rep. Steven Andersson of Geneva suggested it be honorary. The Republican floor leader says even Obama wouldn’t want the cash-strapped state to give state workers another paid day off. He noted that Tampico native and 40th president Ronald Reagan’s Feb. 6th birthday isn’t a holiday,” Fox2News reported.


In December 2015, the City of Riviera Beach renamed Old Dixie Hwy to Barack Obama Highway, making it the second roadway in Palm Beach County, Florida named after former president Obama. Why the street name change? It seems the folks of Riviera Beach felt “Old Dixie” didn’t go well with their environment.

“The name Old Dixie does not align in any way with the goal of racial and social equality. Let’s just move forward and move on, because it’s time,” a Riviera Beach resident said during a City Council meeting addressing the potential name change.

Upon its dedication of Barack Obama Highway back in 2015, Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas Masters proclaimed, “We are stepping up to a new day, a new era, and replacing Old Dixie with Barack Obama, who represents change.” I do not reside in Mr. Masters’ city but I suspect the only change was the street name. The new era commenced January 20, 2017.

The other one is in the city of Pahokee, which, in 2013, renamed their East First Street to Barack Obama Boulevard.

Further, the University of Chicago will host the Barack Obama Presidential Center. Upon completion of construction, it will be the 14th site in the National Archives and Records Administration presidential library system.

By the way, the Barack Obama Presidential Expressway acronymized is BOPE, not HOPE. Some things materialize while others do not.

Stephen Owsinski

Stephen Owsinski is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.

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