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Michelle Obama Addresses Violence In Chicago: 'For Me, This Is Personal'

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 10, 2013 9:55PM

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel greets First Lady Michelle Obama on April 10, 2013. (Photo via Chicago's Mayor's Office Instagram.)

First Lady Michelle Obama stopped in Chicago Wendesday to provide a boost to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s anti-youth violence initiatives. In a moving speech, the First Lady choked up at times and nearly broke into tears as she recounted her own childhood growing up on Chicago's South Side and compared it to the struggles Chicago's youth face today, which often differ from neighborhood to neighborhood.

"It is hard to know what to say to a roomful of teenagers about to bury their best friend," Obama said, emotion raw in her voice.

"I urged them to use their lives to give meaning to ideas," she added. "I urged them to dream as big as she did. And work as hard as she did. And live a life that honors every last bit of her god-given promise."

One of the more emotional passages of Obama's speech was when she recounted comforting the friends of Hadiya Pendleton, who was killed by a gunman in January outside her high school a week after she performed at President Obama's inauguration. "For me, this is personal," Obama told an audience of business leaders at the Hilton Chicago.

"Hadiya was me," she said, "and I was her. But I got to grow up. And Hadiya? You know that story."

The speech ended with Obama urging business leaders to provide the necessary resources for inner city youth to have better opportunities. She also spoke of the need for more responsible parents, better schools and neighborhoods, and more engaged community involvement. Emanuel's anti-youth violence plan seeks $50 million in funding.