Earlier this week, a spokesperson for Barack Obama notified the press that the former president would not be attending any of the memorial services for legendary evangelical minister Billy Graham.
There was no specific reason given for Obama’s absence.
President Donald Trump attended a memorial for Graham when his body lay in honor at the U.S. Capitol. Trump spoke at the event, and he is attending Graham’s funeral Friday afternoon. Former President George W. Bush and Bill Clinton both traveled to North Carolina to pay their respects to the Graham family last week.
President Obama made one surprise public appearance this week. The former president attended a community meeting of southside neighborhood residents in Chicago to assure them that the Obama Presidential Library would not impede or “gentrify” their neighborhood, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The Obama Foundation released plans to construct a massive, sprawling 235-foot-tall campus in the urban community across from the University of Chicago last month. Obama reassured the members of the community that his presidential library would not bring significant change and gentrification, forcing out the residents who have lived there for decades.
“A lot of times, people get nervous about gentrification, and understandably so,” Obama said, according to the Tribune. “It is not my experience … that the big problem on the South Side has been too much development, too much economic activity. We have such a long way to go before you will start seeing the prospect of gentrification.”
After the meeting Obama tweeted:
I got my start holding community meetings in Chicago, so it was fun to be home for one tonight. Michelle and I want the world to come together on the South Side at a place built with local ideas, values, and hopes. That’s the @ObamaFoundation and Presidential Center. https://t.co/ccwkqAY7P5
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 28, 2018
This was Obama’s first tweet since the former president tweeted this upon the news of Billy Graham’s death:
Billy Graham was a humble servant who prayed for so many – and who, with wisdom and grace, gave hope and guidance to generations of Americans.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 21, 2018
Obama was not the only former president who did not personally pay his respects to the Billy Graham family. Both Jimmy Carter and George HW Bush did not personally attend any of the memorial or funeral services. Both Carter and Bush Sr. are 93 years old and have been dealing with severe health issues over the past years.