The legislature in Obama’s former home state of Illinois passed a law last year to designate each Aug. 4 as a commemorative holiday to celebrate the 44th president, whose political career began in the Land of Lincoln. The law, signed by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, takes effect this year.
Democrats had hoped to make Obama’s birthday a full legal holiday that gives state workers and others a day off with pay, but Republicans balked at the cost. The holiday is commemorative, meaning that it honors Obama without closing government offices.
Obama was a community organizer in the poor neighborhoods of Chicago before being elected as a state senator and then as a U.S. senator. He served two terms as president, from Jan. 20, 2009, until Jan. 20, 2017.
The state law says that Aug. 4 is “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.”
Obama is not the first president to have a state name a holiday in his honor. Illinois, California and Wisconsin all celebrate Ronald Reagan Day each Feb. 6 in honor of the late Republican president’s birthday.
Katie Hill, a spokeswoman for Obama, said the former president plans to celebrate his birthday with a family dinner in Washington on Saturday night.
Last year, he celebrated his birthday at a trendy Indian restaurant in Washington. In 2016, Michelle Obama (using personal funds) threw her husband one last big bash in the White House, hosting a party with celebrity guests such as Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Usher, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and retired Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson.