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Why First Lady Michelle Obama Should Not Attend Hadiya Pendleton’s Funeral

When I heard about Hadiya Pendleton’s death I immediately thought of my cousin. Like Hadiya she attended King College Prep and was a member of the band. However while my cousin, a few years older, attends college and looks forward to a bright future Hadiya’s life was snuffed out before it began.

Before Hadiya’s murder I heard reports that there were request being made for President Obama to come to Chicago and make a speech addressing violence. I thought how is that going to help. Will the President’s speech erase decades of Jim Crow like segregation in Chicago? Will it heal a city suffering from the legacy of a Mayor named Daley? Will a speech from Obama help erase the legacy of crack cocaine as the children born addicted to the drug come of age and have children of their own? Will it reconstruct the State Street Corridor, that was once home to the largest housing project in the country, and give the city an opportunity to think critically about how it would place and/or acclimate people who existed in an almost subhuman subculture before they were nonstrategically dispersed throughout the city decimating once vibrant middle class neighborhoods?    

The answer is NO. As the saying goes, all politics is local. While the President is an adopted son of the city his words, nor his presence can stop what is going in Chicago. The same goes for First Lady Michelle Obama and the decision for her to attend Hadiya’s funeral this weekend.

The Chicago problem is one that is greater than any photo op or the sincerest of condolences. In my humble opinion the solution does not involve community marches, vigils, press conferences, speeches or even a heavily armed tactical police force. Before any real change can be made there has to be an acknowledgement of past failures. People in high places, including those reveling in comfortable pension funded seats as revisionist history continues to be repeated about how great their legacies are, will have to be labeled as failures and all of their solutions deemed as ineffective, unfit and an affront to real change.

No, First Lady Michelle Obama, nor the President, should attend any funerals. Especially when it is impossible for them to go to the funeral of every child lost to senseless violence in this country. What can they do? Use their surrogates to put real pressure where it needs to be applied locally. Childhood obesity initiatives are great, but is it possible to carve out a little piece of the initiate pie to discuss violence in our culture. How about a little piece to address parenting and child rearing? I think that most of us can agree that teenagers who have children, with no support system, may need a little help. Perhaps more child parent centers strategically placed and federally funded, a throwback from the 60’s but tweaked for the 21st Century, may be a step in the right direction. This may be more surmountable than a campaign against the gun lobby. As a supporter of the second amendment, who lives in a city with some of the strictest gun laws in the country as well as the highest murder rate, I think it’s time more efforts be placed on influencing the people who pull the triggers, than those who manufacture the guns.

First Lady should not attend Hadiya’s funeral.  It would be a wonderful thing if Hadiya’s death were a tipping point, but what happens when it’s not? What happens when the next child is murdered? Will there be a White House petition for them? There is real work to be done and all of us need to get busy and be found working.

If history proves me wrong I’ll eat humble pie and be a failure in the company of some of Chicago’s finest, minus the pension and all the perks.

Many children, like Hadiya, have been murdered in Chicago. In honor of their memories I say their names as a prayer of remembrance and of hope for the ones in my life. Where is their petition? Who will mourn them? Who will help the living?

Nicholas Camacho, age 19, shot January 2, 2012

Mark Watts, age 15, shot January 4, 2012

Valentin Bahena, age 17, shot January 8, 2012

Kristian Peggs, age 18, shot January 8, 2012

Cory Campbell, age 18, shot January 10, 2012

Omar Vargas, age 17, shot January 14, 2012

Devonte Pippen, age 18, shot January 19, 2012

Kurtis Stanton, age 19, shot January 17, 2012

Anton Sanders, age 15, shot January 20, 2012

Deshun Winfert, age 15, shot February 5, 2012

Edgar Delgado, age 17, shot February 18, 2012

Jamal Harris, age 19, shot February 19, 2012

Damion Rolle, age 14, shot February 21, 2012

George Howard, age 15, shot February 27, 2012

Chris Wormely, age 17, stabbed March 1, 2012

Joshua Williams, age 16, shot March 8, 2012

Gustavo Reyes, age 19, shot March 14, 2012

Johnny Vargas, age 19, shot March 15, 2012

Anthony Scott, age 19, shot March 16, 2012

Aliyah Shell, age 6, shot March 17, 2012

Cedric Bell, age 16, shot March 26, 2012

Jordan Dawson, age 19, shot March 27, 2012

Jaleen Armstrong, age 18, shot April 6, 2012

Robero Adrian Luna, age 13, shot April 7, 2012

Armaney Cotton, age 2, assaulted April 14, 2012

Brandon Miles, age 19, shot April 15, 2012

Donnel Rankin, age 16, shot May 4, 2012

Alejandro Jaime, age 14, shot May 18, 2012

Nazia Banks, age 12, shot May 19, 2012

Jeffrey Triplett, age 17, shot May 26, 2012

Jaleel Beasley, age 19, shot May 27, 2012

Jaylin Johnson, age 18, shot May 28, 2012

Mary Collins, age 19, shot May 28, 2012

Jamal Lockett, age 16, shot June 2, 2012

Joseph Briggs, age 16, shot June 9, 2012

Romelo Golden, age 17, shot June 13, 2012

Shakaki Asphy, age 16, shot June 16, 2012

Henry Soyege, age 19, shot June 18, 2012

Antonio Davis, age 14, shot June 22, 2012

Tyquan Tyker, age 13, shot June 24, 2012

Heaven Sutton, age 7, June 27, 2012

William Cook, age 19, shot June 30, 2012

Myrion Currie, age 19, shot July 1, 2012

Leonard Trust, age 17, shot July 2, 2012

Demetrius Tribett, age 19, shot July 3, 2012

Adeniyi Adesida, age 18, shot July 5, 2012

Ricardo Alcantara, age 18, shot July 5, 2012

Zachary Berrios, age 18, shot July 6, 2012

Martin Tejeda, age 16, shot July 12, 2012

Nathaniel Gonzalez, age 16, shot July 19, 2012

Jamarius Askew, age 16, shot July 19, 2012

Akil Partee, age 19, shot July 21, 2012

Alixi Johnson, age 17, shot July 23, 2012

Iyonna Davis, age 1, assaulted July 28, 2012

Douglas Bufford, age 16, shot July 29, 2012

Quincy Simmons, age 18, shot August 1, 2012

Johnqualus Turner, age 16, shot August 2, 2012

Cornell Ferguson, age 16, shot August 2, 2012

Sameer Baraket, age 19, shot August 5, 2012

Tony Dunn age 19, shot August 19, 2012

Anthony Brooms, age 19, shot August 14, 2012

Donta Gooden, age 19, stabbed August 15, 2012

Emonie Star-Beasley Brown, age 3 weeks, suffocated August 16, 2012

Alonzo Powell, age 18, shot August 18, 2012

Derick L. Baker, age 18, shot August 18, 2012

Taylor Diorio, age 17, shot August 18, 2012

Alejandro Valdez, age 15, shot August 21, 2012

Jaime Ruvalcaba, age 15, shot August 21, 2012

Lucian Dreux, age 17, shot August 25, 2012

Jamal Clayton, age 19, shot August 24, 2012

Aaron Gaithan, age 18, shot August 26, 2012

Johnny Howell, age 19, shot August 27, 2012

Jalen Stogner, age 17, shot August 31, 2012

Joseph Coleman, age 18, shot September 4, 2012

Muhammed Kebbeh, age 19, shot September 5, 2012

Jesus Garcia, age 17, shot September 8, 2012

Dejuan Jackson, age 17, shot September 26, 2012

Derrick Davis, age 17, shot September 29, 2012

Jonathan Williams, age 17, shot October 8, 2012

Modell Mccambry, age 17, shot October 13, 2012

Jamiere Brown age 18, shot October 14, 2012

Terrance Wright, age 18, shot October 19, 2012

Patrick Robinson, age 18, shot October 24, 2012

Terrance Johnson, age 17, shot October 25, 2012

Earl Cunningham, age 18, shot October 30, 2012

Devin Harris, age 19, shot October 31, 2012

Tre Henry, age 19, shot November 1, 2012

Travis Henry, age 19, shot November 3, 2012

Francisco Merino, age 19, shot November 7, 2012

Rodney Stewart, age 17, shot November 9, 2012

Taylor Fitting, age 16, shot November 12, 2012

Sergio Oliva, age 15, shot November 15, 2012

Emilio Palomo, age 16, shot November 17, 2012

Darell Austin, age 19, shot November 20, 2012

Keith Noceda, age 19, shot November 21, 2012

Christopher Jacobs, age 19, shot November 23, 2012

Porshe Foster, age 15, shot November 27, 2012

Jeffrey Stewart, age 16, shot December 9, 2012

Joshua Davis, age 18, shot December 26, 2012

Neriyah Beller, age 4, arson December 29, 2012

Devante Watts, age 19, shot December 30, 2012

Junior Estudillo, age 19, shot December 31, 2012

509 people were murdered in Chicago in 2012. To read the stories of the children mentioned above, as well as the adults, visit Chicago.

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Reader Comments (2)


February 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterANN

@Ann yes I believe it is out of respect. However, I still stand firm that something needs to be done to help the living as well. Unfortunately Hadiya is not the first child to be murdered and she will not be the last. Again I ask, where is the petition for the living? Who will help them? Who will mourn the countless, faceless, nameless children murdered in the past?

February 11, 2013 | Registered CommenterAminah

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