On January 29, 2013, 15 year-old Hadiya Pendleton was murdered while in the park with classmates after completing her final exams. Hadiya’s death was one of too many gun homicides in Chicago in 2013. However, there was something about this effervescent young woman that resonated with the public. The outcry surrounding her death caused a national conversation from City Hall to the White House, but after a year of grief and reflection her family wanted to do more and founded Hadiya’s Promise to become advocates for peace and change. As a result we worked with an advisory council, conducted the Hadiya Pendleton Intergenerational Youth Summit and heard from experts and young people in order to strengthen our capacity to work effectively from both personal experience and a growing understanding of the issues. Our voices and impact have been felt worldwide with initiatives from Amnesty International, to Project Orange, to the First Lady Michelle Obama’s attendance at what would have been Hadiya’s high school graduation ceremony.
Solutions are needed now more than ever. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, one in three people in the U.S. know someone who has been shot. On average, 32 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 140 are treated for a gun assault in an emergency room. High rates of violent crimes persist in African American communities in Chicago and other urban centers despite a general national decline. In the summer of 2015 a gun victim was killed in the very park named after Hadiya and her parents Cleopatra and Nate found themselves counselling yet another member of the sad fraternity of families impacted by gun violence. This impact includes post-traumatic stress and the emotional toll on siblings and other survivors.
Hadiya’s Promise and Hadiya’s Foundation (501c3) have developed a plan for a natural progression of our work: bringing the story of Hadiya’s Promise to inspire young people to put down the guns, continuing to travel to stand with others on behalf of peace, and lending our support to causes that are aligned with our mission.