Thursday, 11 April 2013

Michelle Obama speaks on youth violence in Chicago, says 'This is personal’

Michelle Obama speaks on youth violence in Chicago, says 'This is personal’, During First Lady Michelle Obama’s appearance at a luncheon Wednesday, she brought her message against youth violence to Chicago saying, “This is personal.”

The luncheon was held at the Chicago Hilton and attended by the mayor and civic leaders. Also attending the luncheon were the parents of slain 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Obama told her story of growing up in Chicago’s South Shore community and said, “Hadiya’s family did everything right, but she still didn’t have a chance.”

Young people in Chicago, Obama said, often are not able to enjoy all the city has to offer.

“They haven’t strolled along Navy Pier, she said. "Some of them probably have never even seen the lake. Because instead of spending their days enjoying the abundance of riches this city has to offer, they are consumed with watching their backs."

“They’re afraid to walk alone because they might get jumped. They’re afraid to walk in groups because that might identify them as part of a gang and put them at risk,” she said.

Obama had attended Hadiya’s funeral in February. She said it was very difficult to meet with Hadiya’s friends before the funeral service. “I couldn’t get over how familiar they felt to me,” she said. “Hadiya’s family was just like my family. I was Hadiya and she was me.”

Just after the luncheon Obama traveled to West Englewood to visit Harper High School where many students have been casualties of gunfire.

“Hey, Harper High,” she said when she arrived. “I’m thrilled to be back home. I grew up in South Shore. My parents were working-class folks. There isn’t much distance between me and you.

“In this world today, if you stay focused you can make it happen. The best thing you can do in this life is really be serious about education.”

The luncheon was hosted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and attended by about 800 business and civic leaders in an effort to raise $50 million to fund community programs and other initiatives for young people.

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