First Lady Michelle Obama brought a message of anti-violence to her hometown on Wednesday.
During her visit, Mrs. Obama spoke at a luncheon hosted by Mayor Emanuel at the Hilton Chicago, encouraging business and civic leaders to raise $50 million to support programs that help youths stay away from crime.
In emotional remarks, the first lady recalled the shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old who was murdered a week after performing in Washington during President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Saying, “Hadiya Pendleton was me, and I was her,” Obama reflected on the opportunities that led her to the White House instead of a similar fate.
Back in February, the first lady attended Pendleton’s funeral. The 15 year-old honor student was shot and killed at a park in the North Kenwood neighborhood, which is just about a mile from the First Family’s home. Mrs. Obama has kept in close contact with the Pendletons.
After the luncheon, Mrs. Obama was scheduled to visit Harper High School in the West Englewood neighborhood. She will meet with a small group of students and counselors to hear first-hand about their experiences with violence. Twenty-nine current or former Harper students have been shot in the last year, eight of them fatally.
The CNN Wire contributed to this report.