White House aides tell NBC News that Cleopatra Pendleton, mother of slain Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton, will be a guest of the First Lady during the State of the Union Tuesday night.
The announcement comes two days after Michelle Obama attended the teen’s funeral. Although she did not speak at the event, Obama met privately with Hadiya’s friends and family before the services, where she reportedly encouraged them to stay strong. Pendleton had been a performer at the president’s inauguration festivities the week before she was shot and killed by a stray bullet in a park not far from where the first lady grew up.
Pendleton will be one of many gun violence victims in attendance at Tuesday’s address, as dozens of Democrats have announced plans to bring guests who’ve been impacted in one way or another by gun violence. The guests include Carlos Soto, who lost his sister, teacher Vicki Soto, in the Newtown shooting, and Carol Price and Carolyn Murray, mothers from Maryland and Illinois respectively, who lost children to gun violence.
Cleopatra Pendleton joined PoliticsNation two days after her daughter unexpectedly lost her life in the Chicago park shooting, saying that she wanted her daughter’s death to bring an “awareness.”
“Never in a million years did I ever dream I would get a call about my baby being shot,” she said. “She wasn’t the violent type. She loved people.”
President Obama is set to address gun violence in Chicago in a speech there this Friday, where, according to the White House, he will “talk about the gun violence that has tragically affected too many families in communities across Chicago and across the country.” More than 250 Chicago children have lost their lives to gun violence in the last three years.
UPDATE, 2:30 pm ET
On Monday afternoon, Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman announced he would bring Ted Nugent as his guest to the State of the Union.
Nugent, a strong gun-rights advocate, has been highly critical of the president. Most recently he’s criticized the president’s “racist agenda” and compared gun owners to Rosa Parks. He’s received a visit from the Secret Service after he said he’d be “dead or in jail” if Obama was reelected president.
Watch Hadiya Pendleton’s mother’s interview on PoliticsNation below.