First Lady Chokes Up: 'Hadiya Pendleton Was Me'

Michelle Obama makes case for tougher gun laws in Chicago

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 10, 2013 5:50 PM CDT

(Newser) – Michelle Obama spoke in Chicago today about youth violence, the need for tougher gun laws, and the tragedy of Hadiya Pendleton—the black teenager from the city shot to death soon after performing at the president's inauguration. The Washington Post calls it a "rare" foray for any first lady into the big legislative issue of the day—"these reforms deserve a vote in Congress"— and the Chicago Tribune has a transcript. The part getting the most attention, however, is when the first lady choked up when discussing Hadiya:

  • “As I visited with the Pendleton family at Hadiya’s funeral, I couldn’t get over how familiar they felt to me, because what I realized was Hadiya’s family was just like my family. Hadiya Pendleton was me, and I was her. But I got to grow up and go to Princeton and Harvard Law School and have a career and a family, and the most blessed life I could ever imagine. And Hadiya—well, we know that story.”
  • Obama also said she was surrounded by strong adult mentors and a supportive community when she was a teen. “In the end, that was the difference between growing up and becoming a lawyer, a mother and first lady of the United States and being shot dead at the age of 15."

First lady Michelle Obama speaks about 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton in Chicago.   (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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Michelle Obama talks about Hadiya Pendelton.   (Chicago Tribune)

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