AFRICANGLOBE – More than a thousand people gathered to mourn as 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was laid to rest this weekend. The Chicago native was shot and killed Jan. 29 at a park near her high school.
First lady Michelle Obama, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn were among those in attendance for Saturday’s ceremony at Greater Harvest Baptist Church.
Though Hadiya’s death has attracted attention from politicians at the city, state and nation level, her family ensured that the focus of the day was Hadiya Pendleton’s life.
“You don’t know how hard this is,” Hadiya’s mother, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, told the crowd. “No mother, no father, should ever have to experience this. I put her in things. I kept her busy so she wouldn’t run into the element…. When your children try to talk to you, listen. Don’t judge them. This should be a judge-free zone. You made them. You deal with that.”
Her daughter’s death was one of 42 reported homicides in Chicago during the deadliest January in the city in more than a decade. City leaders, including Emanuel and Rev. Jesse Jackson, have rallied citizens against the rise in violence, with Hadiya’s death serving as a stern reminder of what the city must protect.
Though the case has also been a part of the national gun debate, Jesse Jackson acknowledged the role of unemployment and guns in Hadiya Pendleton’s death.
Hadiya Pendleton was an honor student, and had performed with her school’s band during President Obama’s inauguration ceremony just days before she was shot.
Chicago police believe that the incident was the result of a gang turf war, and that Hadiya Pendleton was not the intended target. Her fellow drum majorettes at King College Prep. High School wore sashes honoring their fallen friend during the ceremony.
Michelle Obama delivered a handwritten note from President Obama to Hadiya Pendleton’s parents. The shooting took place about a mile away from the Obamas’ south-side Chicago home.
“Dear Cleopatra and Nathaniel, Michelle and I just wanted you to know how heartbroken we are to have heard about Hadiya’s passing,” the message read. “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.”
By; Kevin Webb