Slain Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton was laid to rest yesterday in a standing-room-only service that included First Lady Michelle Obama, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Rev. Jesse Jackson and a slew of other Chicago dignitaries reports the Chicago Tribune.
The service at Greater Harvest Baptist Church was full of touching remarks that all honored the life of the 15-year-old honor student and remembered her as a joyful young lady who brought love and happiness to all her family and friends.
First Lady Obama met privately with the family and some of Pendleton's friends before the service. Obama, who grew up in Chicago, also accompanied the girl's mother, Cleopatra Pendleton, to the open casket at the front of the church. She put her arm around Pendleton and patted her back as the woman threw her head back and sobbed.
Pendleton later took to the podium to offer remarks about her dear little girl, who performed at the inauguration of President Obama just a few weeks ago.
“I kept her living,’’ Pendleton said, saying she helped her daughter stay away from negative influences. "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."
“I just want to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who had something to do with rounding her or having something to do with who she was,’’ she continued.
Damon Stewart, Hadiya's godfather, also made remarks saying he had “two spiritual thoughts’’ he wanted to stress. “God makes no mistakes. I don’t believe in coincidence; I believe in divine intervention. [Hadiya] is important because all of the families who were silent, she speaks for them. She is a representative of the people across the nation who have lost their lives."
Hadiya was killed January 29 at Harsh Park, not far from the Obama family home. Although Hadiya and the friends that were with her had no gang ties, a gunman fired into the park in what police said was a gang-connected shooting causing her death to become a symbol of Chicago's gun violence.