Scores turn out to visitation for Hadiya Pendleton


Pictured, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, center, mother of slain King College Prep high school teen Hadiya Pendleton, and her son, right, Nathaniel Pendleton Jr., enter the Calahan Funeral Home Friday for the visitation for Hadiya. The funeral for the 15-year-old who was killed Jan. 29 will be held Saturday morning at a South Side church.



A swarm of mourners filed in and out of the Calahan Funeral Home Friday for the visitation for Hadiya Pendleton. They began lining up outside the South Side funeral home hours before and didn’t stop coming throughout the six-hour long event. 

A who’s who of Chicago notables attended the service, the first in a two-day final farewell to the teen.

Among the attendees were City Treasurer Stephanie Neely and Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Pendleton’s classmates and other students who didn’t attend her school were there also. The funeral will be held Saturday at Greater Harvest Baptist Church, located at 5141 S. State St., following the 9 a.m. wake.

The 15-year-old King College Prep high school volleyball player and majorette was shot Jan. 29 in a city park down the street from her school. She died shortly after the shooting at a local hospital. 

Her death captured national attention, mostly because she had just returned from performing in President Barack Obama’s second-term inauguration in Washington, D.C. weeks before the shooting, and because of the shootings’ proximity to the president’s local home. Vivian Gordan Harsh Park where Pendleton and another friend were shot is located about a mile from the first family’s house in the Kenwood community on the South Side.

Thursday the White House announced that First Lady Michelle Obama would attend the funeral Saturday. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a former Chicago Public Schools chief, and presidential Senior Advisor and Chicagoan Valerie Jarrett will attend Saturday’s service as well. 

The first lady’s attendance means that security around the church will be tight and roads road closures are expected. A bevy of media will likely converge nearby the church but only a select pool of press will officially be allowed in the service.

The last publicly announced funeral Michelle Obama attended in Chicago was the 2010 service for Bishop Arthur M. Brazier of Apostolic Church of God.  Her planned presence at Pendleton’s service was a surprise to the Pendleton family, the father, Nathaniel Pendleton, told the Defender.

“I feel supported. When (Obama) gets finished with being the first lady, she’s still a parent,” he said.

Kimiko Pettis, Hadiya’s maternal aunt, said Mrs. Obama’s presence “means a lot to us.”

“The fact that they have two daughters and Hadiya was probably similar to them in characteristics…it was definitely moving to them (the White House) in order for them to make the steps to have to have Mrs. Obama to come. We’re not too far from their (Obama family) home and it’s sort of hitting them at home,” she said.

She called it “amazing” that Michelle Obama will be at the funeral.

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