It was a story that shook the nation.
A 15-year-old girl, who had performed just days earlier at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, was shot and killed in a Chicago park, just blocks from her school.
Nine years after Hadiya Pendleton’s death, her mother, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, is still fighting to end gun violence.
She founded Hadiya’s Promise – a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending gun violence through education.
“Charters are always pioneering things. They definitely work with families and communities and are always open to partnering with other schools and or officials with anything that is directly related to the betterment of the students and their families,” she said.
Hadiya was a charter student and graduated from University of Chicago Charter-Woodlawn.
Cowley-Pendleton says charter schools help kids think for themselves and take advantage of opportunities in their area of interest. Most students who attend charter schools in Chicago are Black and Brown.
According to a report just released by the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, 80 charters have reported at least one gunshot within one block of campus. Sixty-four charters reported at least 100 gunshots within five blocks of campus.
Cowley-Pendleton says gun violence is a problem that affects everyone.
“We all have to step up with the roles we play as it relates to young people and our responsibility within their lives… What we cannot do is act like the issues that are happening are not an issue for every household,” she said. “It’s not just unique to Black and Brown communities, and if it is displayed in our communities right now, it’s not long before it’s displayed in your community.”
Cowley-Pendleton says ending gun violence among young people requires all communities to be involved.