First Lady Michelle Obama returned to her murder-plagued hometown Wednesday to make an emotional plea for strengthening US gun laws, saying she too could have been a victim of brutal street violence while growing up.
Making a rare direct foray into the domestic policy debate, Obama held back tears as she recalled a young black Chicagoan named Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot dead one week after performing in President Barack Obama’s inauguration in January.
As she urged lawmakers and city officials to find constructive ways to combat youth bloodshed, Mrs. Obama mentioned how, when attending the 15-year-old’s funeral with the Pendleton family, “I couldn’t get over how familiar they felt to me.”
“Because what I realized is that… Hadiya Pendleton was me, and I was her,” Obama said as she held back tears.
“But I got to grow up, and go to Princeton and to Harvard Law School, and have a family and the most blessed life I could imagine. And Hadiya… we know that story.”