CHICAGO— It has been six months since Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton’s daughter, Hadiya Pendleton, was shot and killed in a south side park just a week after the teen marched in President Obama’s inaugural parade.
While the pain of her daughter’s death still lingers, Cowley-Pendleton said she is faced with yet another challenge: raising an 11-year-old black boy in America.
“I have a son that I am raising in this environment, under these circumstances. So now I have a youth that is not at risk because I’m raising him with certain value systems, but he is at risk of being viewed a certain kind of way,” Cowley-Pendleton told MSNBC during an anti-gun violence summit in Chicago on Friday, sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus. “I have to do things and be boisterous to protect him before he gets to where he’s going to go independently, walking down a street on his own with certain privileges and being misidentified as someone else. Right now he’s 11. The Martins have already suffered and that’s an awareness for the rest of us.”
The Martins that Cowley-Pendlton referred to are the parents of Trayvon Martin, the black 17-year-old who was killed in an Orlando suburb last year by a former neighborhood watch volunteer who said he shot the teen in self-defense after the teen attacked him. George Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter earlier this month. His lawyers have said race did not play a role. The acquittal sparked anger and protests with some calling for a review and repeal of Florida’s stand your ground laws, which initially gave legal cover to Zimmerman who wasn’t arrested for 44 days following the killing.
Since the death of her daughter, a 15-year-old honor student— who was gunned down in January in what authorities have described as mistaken identity at the hands of local gang members—Cowley-Pendleton has joined anti-gun violence activists across the country calling for stricter gun control legislation.
“This is my life right now,” she told MSNBC earlier this year just hours after a meeting with New York City’s billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has pledged part of his personal fortune to combating illegal guns and the gun lobby. “I’m tired. But I’m stepping up to the cause and I won’t stop until these gun laws are changed.”
Click here to read more.