The White House announced this week that First Lady Michelle Obama will attend the funeral of slain teenager Hadiya Pendleton. Amid an onslaught of brutal violence in Chicago, Pendleton has become one of the most high profile victims of the city’s gun violence because her death happened within days of her performing at President Obama’s second inauguration.
As I wrote in an in-depth piece on Chicago’s violence that was published yesterday, those working to end the bloodshed have more questions than answers. The Black Youth Project, a youth advocacy group that’s based in Chicago, has launched a petition to get the president to make a speech about gun violence in Chicago. While the first lady’s presence is important, the group argues that it’s not nearly enough of a national response. In a press released, the group called Mrs. Obama’s appearance an “appropriate response to this incredible tragedy”, but added “at the same time we want to be clear that Michelle Obama’s presence at the funeral does not in any way address the systemic issues contributing to gun violence in Chicago and other urban areas.”
Last weekend, Black Youth Project founder Cathy Cohen spoke of the need for a coordinated national response on MSNBC:
“There’s a needed coordination on the national level at this point,” Cohen told Melissa Harris Perry. “People are trying to do whatever they can, from community groups, NGO’s, to faith-based communities, but there’s a leadership and coordination that’s needed from the national level.”