The Defender has confirmed that First Lady Michelle Obama will attend the funeral service for slain teen Hadiya Pendleton.
The 15-year-old was gunned down Jan. 29 at a park located one mile north of where the First Lady and the first family live in the Kenwood neighborhood on the South Side.
Hadiya’s father, Nathaniel Pendleton, told the Defender that he had only heard from media reports of the first lady’s plans to attend the funeral. Still, he was pleased with the news.
“I feel supported. When (Obama) gets finished with being the first lady, she’s still a parent,” he said.
The White House confirmed Thursday that the first lady will be accompanied by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. Duncan and Jarrett are Chicagoans, too. Duncan served as the chief executive officer of Chicago Public Schools before heading to Washington in his current position. Jarrett is a longtime friend of the Obamas, former deputy chief of staff to former Mayor Richard M. Daley and she served for a decade on the Chicago Transit Authority board.
Pendleton will be laid to rest Saturday following a funeral service at Greater Harvest Baptist Church, located at 5141 S. State St. Services begin at 9 a.m. The day before, there will be a visitation at Calahan Funeral Home, 7030 S. Halsted St.
Calahan Funeral Home President Edward Calahan said the first lady’s attendance demonstrates her endearment to nation’s children, including the ones in her hometown.
“It means a lot to Chicago. This is her home,” Calahan told the Defender. “To come home, being the ‘mother’ to the nation … she is letting Chicago and the nation know that her love for the children and the community is constantly being displayed.”
The funeral home expects a crowd of more than 3,000 each on Friday and Saturday.