Six months after Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed in a Chicago park about a mile from President Barack Obama's home, the 14-year-old girl's mother says she's worried about her surviving child's safety.
Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton told MSNBC during the Congressional Black Caucus' Chicago anti-gun violence summit on Friday that she worries about the world her 11-year-old son will grow up in, where African-American men and boys are faced with certain stereotypes.
"It is my responsibility to do what I can to lessen that confusion by the time he becomes of age," Cowley-Pendleton told MSNBC. "That gives me what, five good years, maybe four, to try to make a change. I’m doing what I can and mourning at the same time.”
Pendleton, a student at King College Prep High, was shot in January as she and a group of other teens sought cover from a rain storm in Vivian Gordon Harsh Park. Her death came days after she attended Obama's second inaugural festivities, and Pendleton has since become a symbol of sorts for violence in the city and United States.
First Lady Michelle Obama attended Pendleton's funeral, and President Barack Obama has named her in several speeches on gun control.
Pendleton's parents were guests at the president's State of the Union address, and Cowley-Pendleton has attended multiple anti-violence rallies, marches and gatherings, including one in Washington with other mothers whose children were victims of gun violence.
Prosecutors said Pendleton was the unintended target of what they say was a gang war. Two men charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder in her death pleaded not guilty to the charges in March.
Cowley-Pendleton told MSNBC that change doesn't happen overnight and said it's the responsibility of the community to make the ultimate change.