February 9th, 2013
11:23 AM ET
9 years ago

Michelle Obama attends funeral of teenage Chicago gun violence victim

(CNN) - "Hi, my name is Hadiya. ... It is your job as students to say no to gangs and yes to a great future."

That was the voice of Hadiya Pendleton heard in a 2008 web video appealing to her peers. The 15-year-old Chicago honor student and advocate for her peers who will be remembered Saturday as a victim of gang gun violence at a funeral attended by first lady Michelle Obama.

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Pendleton was killed January 29, just a week after she performed at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. She was killed in the Hyde Park neighborhood near Obama's Chicago home. Her murder was the 42nd in the city this year.

A handwritten note from President Barack Obama to Pendleton’s parents was published on the funeral program: "Dear Cleopatra and Nathaniel, Michelle and I just wanted you to know how heartbroken we are to have heard about Hadiya's passing.

“We know that no words from us can soothe the pain, but rest assured that we are praying for you, and that we will continue to work as hard as we can to end this senseless violence. God Bless, Barack Obama."

She “marched by me and the president and the rest of you on Inauguration Day, leading with pride and promise her high school band,” Vice President Joe Biden told Democratic members of Congress this week.

"This was no ordinary child," he said. “She was a child who had used social media, urging her friends to speak out - don't join gangs. And now she's gone."

The Obama administration has focused on reducing gun violence since 20 children and six adults were shot and killed December 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The president has proposed gun legislation and signed executives orders aimed at reducing gun violence. His plan includes a ban on assault weapon sales, restrictions on the capacity of gun magazines and background checks for every gun sale.

The first lady, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett – all Chicagoans – attended the funeral. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. also attended.

Hundreds of family, friends and classmates paid their respects. Members of Hadiya’s Crystal Elegance Majorette squad walked down the church aisle in their black and yellow warm-up suits.

Nathaniel Pendleton, Hadiyah’s father, said on CNN’s “Early Start” that his daughter was excited to meet the president and be part of inauguration. He said her death should be part of the national dialogue on preventing gun violence.

"When we talked about this as a family, we recognized the implications of Hadiya's death in this debate," he said. "We believe that this debate, it should be a multifaceted approach. ... It shouldn't be a Democratic approach; it shouldn't be a Republican approach.

"Gun laws should be, somehow, created in a way that's going to make it harder for the bad guys to get guns and make it easier for the law-abiding citizens who want to have them."

"Gun laws should be, somehow, created in a way that's going to make it harder for the bad guys to get guns and make it easier for the law-abiding citizens who want to have them," he said.

More than 500 people were killed in Chicago last year.

"We have a responsibility to see a stop to this," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

A CNN/ORC poll conducted in December found that 58% of adults favor banning large ammunition magazines and 56% favor a ban on semiautomatic weapons.

- CNN's Athena Jones, Adam Aigner-Treworgy, Ted Rowlands, Tom Cohen, Catherine E. Shoichet and Michael Pearson contributed to this report

Filed under: Gun control • Michelle Obama
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Pat

    Sure would be nice if MO and BO would attend the funeral of Navy Seal HERO Chris Kyle, but we know neither one of them would want to honor a real patriot and HREO.

    RIP Chris Kyle and thank you for your service to our country. We lost a true HERO and a true AMERICAN when we lost you!

    February 9, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  2. Randy, San Francisco

    Pushback and objections to First Lady Michelle Obama's attendance at the funeral is mean spirited and heartless.

    February 9, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. Bill from GA

    To Pat

    "Sure would be nice if MO and BO would attend the funeral of Navy Seal HERO Chris Kyle, but we know neither one of them would want to honor a real patriot and HREO."

    I don't think the gun nuts honoring Chris Kyle want our President there; they couldn't have their guns with them then.

    Didn't think of that, did you?

    February 9, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    Pat, honey. It's ok to every once in a while stop allowing your hate to interfere with your humanity. Your comment was a disservice to the "true AMERICAN" you seem to want eulogized at the expense of a young lady you would likely never have given a thought about ... regardless of what her accomplishments in her short life were ... had not MO or BO been attached to the article.

    February 9, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  5. lottie

    The republican jerks will find fault no matter what she does. They are hippocrate's anyway. Complaining about Loo having investments in the Caymans when they just ran a candidate that had lots of money there. Now the tea party will give a rebuttal to the state of the union speech as will the republicans. Now they are two party's or what??? They are a joke

    February 9, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  6. Lorraine

    Hi Pat,
    It's clear you admired Mr. Kyle, for his exemplary military record and regret his untimely passing. Besides his military service, Mr. Kyle was reputedly an honorable, kind hearted family man and a civic leader. He seems to have been devoted to serving his fellow Americans at home as well as at war. As such, I seriously that he would begrudge this American child's mother the honor of Mrs. Obama's presence as she buries her daughter.

    February 9, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. RLMoore

    Progeress towards curtailing tragedies like this can begin as soon as the anti-gun crowd figures out that currently proposed legislation will have no impact on people similar to those that carried out this crime. The proposed assault weapon ban will not slow down the gang-bangers. But the ban will only negatively impact those that abide by the law.

    The better solution is to take command and control of the explosive propellents used to manufacture ammunition.

    February 9, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  8. Romy Monteyro

    Please stop the political grandstanding, Michelle. The election is over and America, sad to say, will have to endure 4 more years of your mindless spending of taxpayer' money. If you want to do something good for this country for a change, visit the wounded veterans in the hospital and comfort the families of those who gave their lives for our country. With your influence you can start a fund raising drive to help the orphans of the Iraq and Afghan Wars go to college. Don't you think 18 luxurious and very expensive vacations ($ 7 billion in 4 years) for you, Barack, your two kids and your dog , on the taxpayers' dime is not enough for a lifetime? Shame on you!

    February 9, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. WestVA

    @Randy – Seriously? Heartless? I think the fact that neither the President NOR First Lady are attending the funeral of Chris Kyle is heartless. Heck, neither has even made a public comment about his death as far as I know. Chris was a multi decorated Army sniper who served his country well and then returned how to help veterans cope with PTSD. As Commander In Chief he should be attending the funeral of Chris Kyle plain and simple. Talk about a slap in the face to those serving our country.....

    February 9, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  10. Clara

    As a veteran of this country, I am disgusted by 'Pat's comment of this story. How dare you belittle another death? Another murder? All because one was of age to put their right hand up and swear in? Both families are mourning over senseless crimes, have RESPECT for ALL!

    February 9, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. Dave

    Negative comments such as Pat show how the U.S. moral fibre has decayed. Promoting a political or racial inuendo on a blog such as this is so low I bet Pat can walk under a snake.

    February 9, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  12. Jim

    Go after the CRIMINALS Rahm. Not the law abiding. The criminals are the issue. The C R I M I N A L S!

    February 9, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  13. Jessie

    You are comparing the death of a young innocent child to the death of a so called hero. I don't think the comparison should be made, but why would her presence be more warranted at the funeral of a proud killer than at one of a person who wanted to really try to make the world better?

    February 9, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  14. snowdogg

    Pat... your partisan troll post is disgusting.

    February 9, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  15. rafael

    Sure, Pat, because they hate patriots and the hate heros. Sounds like in your view the world is full of hatred.

    February 9, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  16. dina

    No one can attend every funeral.This one is important to ban guns.The are all heroes.Stop being mean.

    February 9, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  17. Rob

    Honestly this is sad.

    Partial gun control fails and will always fail. Complete gun control could never and should never happen.

    February 9, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  18. Brian

    It's good MO is going to the funeral. This young girl was brave and deserves our respect. It would be nice if BO had made a public comment regarding Chris Kyle, and had attended his funeral as well. His silence says a lot.

    February 9, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  19. Dave

    So who exactly is paying for her trip? Her airplane costs, multiple secret service details, armored cars etc?

    Shes at the funeral just to push her husbands anti gun agenda.

    Why should tax payers fund this trip?

    February 9, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. Facts don't Lie

    if President Obama were to attend this funeral they would have to do the presdential saftey street block off secret service thing and this family doesn't need all of that. And if he DID go the right would call it a phoo op and grandstanding. he is doing the correct thing by not going.

    February 9, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. Canis

    You do a great disservice by politicizing Chris Kyle’s tragic death, and in doing so represent the absolute worst of our nation. You’re an embarrassment to your party, your nation, and likely your family and friends who are stuck hearing your radical and narrow ideology that you shamelessly wrap in this nation's flag that was built on diversity, sacrifice, liberty, and compromise.

    February 9, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. DoubleW

    Hey, "mean-spirited and heartless" is the standard code of conduct for the trolls and racists infesting these boards.

    February 9, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  23. what's up

    It's Chicago. What do you expect?

    February 9, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  24. Lynn

    Pat, I'm sure you didn't mean to suggest that young lady was not a "real patriot or true American".

    February 9, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  25. jonaty

    What she won't talk about:
    Let's have an honest discussion about the real problem...out of control black youth running amuck in our cities. Ponder this: The KKK in it's 86 year history is attributed to having killed 3400 blacks. Today blacks kill that many other blacks in 6 months time.
    Political correctness and false claims of racism prevent this discussion from taking place, but it remains a sad fact.

    February 9, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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