- Post 11 February 2013
- By Rhonda Gillespie, Chicago Defender
Pictured, from left, Bishop Tavis Grant of Greater First Church in East Chicago, Ind., Rev. John Chisum of Gifts From God Ministry Church and Bishop James Dukes, chair of Helping Hands in Englewood and pastor of Liberation Christian Center, speak at a press conference Feb. 7, 2013 where they called on President Barack Obama to come to Chicago to speak on gun violence and bring community resource aid. Defender/Worsom Robinson
The calls have been loud and pointed: President Barack Obama, come to Chicago.
On Friday, he is expected to be here.
Civil rights leaders like the Rev. Jesse Jackson, faith leaders, community activists, members of gun violence victims’ families and others concerned about the rampant – often unintended – slaughter of youth and others have been calling for the president to come to the city.
The White House announced Sunday afternoon that after giving the State of the Union address in Washington, President Barack Obama will travel to three cities to “discuss proposals, unveiled in the speech, that focus on strengthening the economy for the middle class and those striving to get there.”
Obama Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president would go to the Asheville, N.C. Wednesday, to Atlanta on Thursday and would be in Chicago Friday.
Specific plans for what the president will do in each city have not yet been revealed.
At a press conference Thursday, a day before the two-day farewell to slain teen Hayida Pendleton, leaders and supporters of the Helping Hands organization in the Englewood community renewed the call for the president to come to Chicago – where more than 500 people were murdered in 2012, mostly due to shootings, and over 40 were killed in the first month of the new year – to speak on the issue of gun violence.
“He should come and respond to the pain of all of (the grieving) parents in all of these communities,” said Bishop Tavis Grant, pastor of Greater First Church in East Chicago, Ind. He added that the president should, “be prepared to bring some resources, use his bully pulpit and his executive authority to make whole these communities and hold these other legislators to the same standard of making these communities better.”
Days before, Rainbow/PUSH founder and head, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, said at the civil rights organization’s headquarters that Obama needed to come here as a show of “ultimate national seriousness” about gun violence.
"Please come home," Jackson said. "It would serve to illuminate for Americans the nature of the urban crisis."
First Lady Michelle Obama was in Chicago Saturday to attend Pendleton’s funeral.
A handwritten note signed by President Obama was printed on the back of the teen’s obituary.