Permanent Black Man
By the hundreds, mourners filed into the pews of a packed church on this city’s South Side on Saturday, clutching one another, weeping and wearing buttons adorned with the smiling face of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl whose death has come to represent the miserable cost of gun and gang violence.
An array of Washington officials — the first lady, Michelle Obama; Arne Duncan, the education secretary; and Valerie Jarrett, a senior White House adviser — were among dignitaries seated in the front row. Ms. Pendleton, a member of her high school’s majorette team, traveled to Washington to perform during President Obama’s inauguration festivities only a week before she was fatally shot here.
Ms. Pendleton’s mother, Cleopatra, rose to the microphone at one point, not far from her daughter’s coffin. She thanked family members and the crowded room for what she described as an amazing outpouring of support, then grew quieter.
So many people, including some who said they had never met Ms. Pendleton personally, had felt drawn to her funeral that space in the sanctuary and in an overflow room ran out and scores had to be turned away.
“You don’t know everything,” she said. “You don’t know how hard this really is. And those of you who do know how hard this is, I’m sorry. No mother, no father should ever have to experience this.”