Michelle Obama has made the fight against youth violence in her Chicago hometown a personal matter. The first lady met with 800 city and business leaders Wednesday to make a plea: we must "get our young people off the streets and back on track to successful lives."
"Hadiya Pendleton was me and I was her," Obama said of the slain teen who was shot a week after performing at the president's inauguration in January. "But I got to grow up and go to Princeton and Harvard Law School and have a career and a family and the most blessed life I could ever imagine." (Read the full transcript of the first lady's comments.)
She credited involved adults, the fortune of attending a good school and living in a safe community for the opportunities that led her to where she stands today. "That was the difference between growing up and becoming a lawyer, a mother and first lady of the United States and being shot dead at the age of 15," she said, becoming visibly emotional.
She asked the group to help raise $50 million for anti-violence programs for at-risk youth in the city. The Public Safety Action Committee, created by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has raised $33 million so far.
FLOTUS also met with students at Harper High School in Chicago's South Side where 29 students have been shot and eight have died in the past year.
"In this world today, if you stay focused you can make it happen," she told them. "The best thing you can do in life is really be serious about education. I'm not going to talk. Ask me whatever you want to know."
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(Photo: AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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