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'I Was Born In Kenya' Obama Jokes In South Side Summit Address

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Oct 31, 2017 10:39PM

The Obama Foundation's first global summit kicked off today, with speakers including Chicago-native Common, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and, of course, President Barack Obama—who opened things with a bit of his signature humor.

''The reason I'm so excited to see you all here today in part is because this is where I started,' Obama said during a welcoming statement to the summit participants, who are gathering at the South Side Marriott Marquis, Tuesday afternoon—with a nod toward his history as a local community organizer and law professor before he went into politics. "Now this isn't where I was born—I was born in Kenya. That's a joke. I was born in Hawaii."

The comment, which brought a ton of levity to his welcoming address, was met with laughter from the room. Many of the invitees hail from the South Side themselves, but many are also from around the world and have been identified by the foundation as rising leaders in their communities and the world. About 20,000 people applied for just 500 seats at the summit, according to the Sun-Times. The summit is not designed to focus on one specific issue, but will touch on subjects that include environmental justice and the designs for the Obama Center, museum and presidential library, which are slated to be built a few miles south near Chicago's Jackson Park.

Some other quirky tidbits of news are also already coming out of the Summit—the latest, that Obama and Michelle Obama would prefer not to take selfies with the participants this week: