PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, 1/31/13, 7:00 PM ET

Mother: ‘She was Hadiya, she was just special’

Chicago teenager Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed Tuesday, a victim of gun violence. Her death is inspiring people around the country to push for change...

Mom of slain Chicago teen: ‘She was Hadiya. She was just special’

Updated

Heartbroken mother Cleo Cowley Pendleton was barely able to keep back tears Thursday when she joined PoliticsNation to talk about her pain, just two days after losing her 15 year old daughter Hadiya Pendleton to a bullet in a Chicago park. Pendleton described her daughter as a loving, happy kid who was was excited about her bright future.

“She loved life, and she was a true teenager, just a kid,” Pendleton told Reverend Sharpton. She spoke of her daughter’s “huge heart,” her quirkiness and her strong love for her family, especially her brother. “She had aspirations for being an adult but she was just 15 and enjoying it,” Pendleton said. “I used to talk to her about these years being some of the best years of your life, ‘get in there and just enjoy them, you’re going to make a difference.’”

Choking back tears, she continued, “She was Hadiya. She was just special.”

The heartbreaking loss came after great happiness for the family: Hadiya had just returned from an exciting trip to Washington to march as a majorette in the inaugural parade. Cowley said her daughter had been “ecstatic” about the opportunity to perform for the president.

Apparently, Hadiya so enjoyed her trip to Washington that she told her mother she was considering going into politics someday. Pendleton said that, as a mother, she had made a point to expose Hadiya to new experiences, to make sure she knew there was “more than just this,” in the world. Hadiya was set to travel to Europe this spring.

Pendleton broke down as she described receiving the call from Hadiya’s friend, learning she’d been shot. “Never in a million years did I ever dream I would get a call about my baby being shot.”

“She wasn’t the violent type,” she said. “She loved people.” Pendleton accepted Reverend Sharton’s condolences. “I want there to be an awareness,” she said.

Sharpton ended the interview with a call to action:

Whether it’s the pain of parents in Newtown, or the pain you just saw, somehow they muster the strength to come and say to the country “this is my baby,” fighting tears, fighting pain. This is not about right-wing or left-wing. This is not about Republican or Democrat. This is about our children  Have we become so insensitive that we step over the bodies of babies to argue about things that should be something that unites a country, and that is making sure that we don’t put our children in harm’s way. This lady, two days later, said “I want to come and make awareness.” She found the strength, she mustered the courage, I hope we can muster the courage to stop this madness and get these guns off the street and restore dignity to the streets and neighborhoods of this country. From Chicago to Newtown, we must have the will to stop this.

Mom of slain Chicago teen: 'She was Hadiya. She was just special'

Updated