First lady Michelle Obama, simply by filing into a church pew on Chicago’s South Side on Saturday and mourning the killing of a smiling 15-year-old girl she had never met, spotlighted the everyday gun and gang violence plaguing the nation’s cities.
For the Obamas, Pendleton’s death on Jan. 29 hit home. She went to school only a mile from the Obama family home. The Obamas thought about their daughters, Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11, said Valerie Jarrett, a senior White House adviser and close friend of the Obamas.
“It’s personal for us,” Jarrett, who accompanied Michelle Obama to the funeral, said in an interview. “The first lady and I grew up in Chicago. It could have been our daughters. So, as residents of Chicago, residents of the South Side, our heart just goes out to her family. . . . We may not have known her, but she’s a part of our family, too.”