First lady Michelle Obama brought her message against youth violence to Chicago today, appearing at a luncheon with the mayor and civic leaders and then visiting Harper High School, whose students have often been casualties of gunfire.
Attending the luncheon were the parents of slain 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, whose funeral Obama attended in February.
“This is personal,” said Obama, as she told the story of growing up in Chicago’s South Shore community. “Hadiya’s family did everything right, but she still didn’t have a chance.”
Obama said it was very difficult for her to meet with Hadiya’s friends before the funeral service.
“I couldn’t get over how familiar they felt to me,” she said. “Hadiya’s family was my family. I was Hadiya and she was me.”
The luncheon at the Chicago Hilton was hosted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and attended by about 800 business and civic leaders in an effort to raise $50 million to fund community programs and other initiatives for young people.
While the first lady has increasingly promoted President Obama’s gun initiatives in her travels, she barely mentioned the gun issue on Wednesday. She did, however, stress that the proposals being debated in Washington deserve a vote in Congress.