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. furianxo

    Tragic and way too coincidental.... a girl sings for Obama, and later she is shot, randomly, at a park, for no reason at all... i smell an anti gun nut at work here.

    February 9, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  2. Robert Buchler

    Where is the comment of sympathy from Wayne LePierre? Oh, I forgot he doesnt give a damn about murdered kids, because he is bought and paid for by gun manufacturers. Just my opinion, of course. Maybe I am wrong.

    February 9, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  3. B4Cons

    It's easy to spot the wing nuts ..... they constantly use the term Patriot ...... yet in reality are the most Un-Patriotic

    February 9, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  4. James Virginia

    Maybe Michelle Obama will rail against the real cause of this girls death. Gang-bangers, thugs and criminals in the dirtiest and most corrupt city in America. Doubt it.

    February 9, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  5. Tiger

    Interesting to see Secret Service at funeral packing their machine guns, they have bulges in their clothes, bet there are no shootings today on south side of Chicago.

    February 9, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  6. Tim

    First, I would like to say this is very sad.
    I will keep all the family and friends of this young Lady in my Prayers.
    Second, I would like to remind people that Chicago has some of the most strict gun laws in America.
    Yet, this young Lady lost her life.
    Proving that no Gun ban or Regulation will save lives.
    I hope we can agree that she is proof of this fact.
    Rest in Peace young Lady.

    February 9, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  7. yasimine

    @ Pat

    oh I see no matter what they do...it still no right because you will always find another issue to be more important...

    February 9, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. wang

    STFU Randy the fudge packer

    February 9, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  9. michael

    Why do you always call gun violence and not gang violence

    February 9, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  10. DWT

    @Pat: yeah, that Chicago girl is no hero, and I'm glad you're out there letting us know what's important.

    February 9, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. Tim

    Pat, you are a typical example of what's wrong with America today.

    February 9, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  12. Steve

    There are reports a fight broke out at this funeral. Surprising, huh?

    February 9, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  13. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    @Pat, your comments are disingenerous without any thought or compassion and as a proud American I'm embarrassed that one would make such a comment. Both Kyle and this little girl were murdered by uncaring and uncompassionate criminals, so don't sound like one of the same.

    February 9, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  14. theapatriot

    I am so tired of Obama exploiting dead children for political goals.

    February 9, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  15. Steve

    Pat: I guess you didn't consider that perhaps President Obama wouldn't be welcomed at Chris Kyle's funeral?! I mean everybody in Texas is republican and pro guns. Everybody would assume a visit on his part would be a political stunt ... It's not as easy as you think it is. On the other hand, the girl in Chicago (Hadiya) was killed from gun violence and her family is most certainly on President Obama's political agenda. Michelle Obama has more in common with Hadiya: both are from Chicago, both women, both African American ... Bottom line: people go where they feel welcomed and it doesn't mean they don't recognize a hero.

    February 9, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  16. wylie

    The young lady's death is a real tragedy, but it needs to be noted that even though Chicago, has the most restrictive gun laws in the Nation, they are having no affect upon gun deaths in that city. This is because, only the honest citizens will abide by them. The criminals will not. More gun laws only shift the balance of gun possession from honest citizens to the criminals. Causing more gun deaths. Let's not make the same mistake at the national level.

    February 9, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  17. Computer DNA Sequenced By Rebel Hackers

    Randy, what objections stated by Pat? He didn't say a thing about this funeral...

    February 9, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  18. ps

    Pat, I totally agree with you. You wouldnt catch them within a 100 miles of Chris Kyle funeral. She only went to this one because this was a black girl, if she had been white MO would still have her ugly buttin DC

    February 9, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  19. Sagebrush Shorty

    "We have a responsibility to see a stop to this," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.
    Well Mr. Mayor, what are you waiting for?

    February 9, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Interesting that MO attends an African American teen's funeral when there was actually a white teen killed earlier the same week by gun violence in the same area

    February 9, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  21. Krisna

    @ Pat, Real Patriot, you can't be serious, or did not realize this was a child.

    February 9, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  22. It was GANG violence

    Stop being such a bunch of biased shills. It's enough that MO is using this for political grandstanding.
    Put the blame for this where it belongs: on the people that killed her, and the culture that spawned them.

    February 9, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  23. Jake

    Randy, San Fran ..
    Stop your partisan crying. Your idols are not always right !!

    February 9, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  24. steve

    this is so sad
    a young pretty girl whose life was snuffed out
    just makes me sick

    February 9, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  25. Ian Bachleda

    Does anyone have tips on how to shave pube hairs without pain and suffering. Thank you all for taking the time to read this and help out.

    February 9, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
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