Activists Wear Orange to Party for Peace

On what would have been Hadiya Pendleton's 19th birthday, Chicagoans flocked to Hyde Park to raise awareness of gun violence

Activists gathered in a sea of orange in Hyde Park on Thursday for the second annual Party for Peace to help raise awareness of gun violence.

Chicagoans came out to partake in the nationwide movement and to remember the victims on what would have been Hadiya Pendleton’s 19th birthday. Hadiya became a victim of gun violence in 2013, and her birthday now marks National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

“We can't celebrate the way that we would have, but we can try to make the best of what it is,” said Hadiya’s mother Cleo Pendleton.

“Today is a beautiful day. Today is a happy day. And that's the way we want to keep it. We want to keep a smile on our faces. Not a tear,” her father Nate Pendleton added.

“I think it's so important to do this because every life we lose to gun violence everyday is a terrible tragedy,” said Jason Rzepka of the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.

Nortasha Stingley attended the event in honor of her daughter, Mariss Boyd-Stingley, who also died in 2013.

“It's an epidemic. And with an epidemic it spreads rampant,” Stingley said. “So we've got to come up with solutions and things of that nature.”

The group listened to music and survivors shared their stories, all wearing orange to support the nationwide movement started by Hadiya’s closest friends.

“I think she would love it,” said Hadiya’s best friend Nza-ari Khepra. “I think Hadiya would be down for a party like this, and this is her 19th birthday, so I hope in some way she's here celebrating with us.”

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