One chair that was left empty and adorned with purple ribbons in honor of the student that was shot and killed while on her way home from school, Hadiya Pendleton, back in 2013.
The First Lady and wife of President Barack Obama, Michelle, had recently visited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School and gave a commencement speech to an audience of about 3000 people at the school auditorium on Tuesday night.
If she were still alive, Pendleton would have been on the road to graduating from high school yesterday. Unfortunately, she happened to be at the wrong place and at the wrong time. The suspects, two gang members, had mistaken the group that Pendleton was with as members of a rival gang. That was when she got shot. A week before her death, she had been performing for events during President Obama’s second inauguration. First Lady Michelle Obama was present during her funeral.
Aside from purple ribbons, the chair reserved for Pendleton was also decorated with fresh flowers and a cloth. Michelle Obama said that she had wanted to honor the memory of Hadiya Pendleton.
In her speech, the First Lady expressed her thoughts about the loss of Pendleton. She goes on to remind the graduates that even though they have had experienced losses in their lives and even though they are thinking about Hadiya, the scars that they received is not only a reminder of the pain they have felt, it also reminds them that they had survived.
Michelle Obama had graduated in Whitney Young High School and had grown up in South Shore. She said that she could relate to the students in a way as they struggle to avoid gangs, focus on their studies and making their parents proud.
She also said that she knows the strength of the community.
Even though Pendleton had departed from this world, her presence could still be felt in the auditorium. Two years ago, her death became a national symbol of the out of control gun violence that is being experienced in Chicago.