First lady chokes up during speech on gun violence in Chicago

Michelle Obama on Wednesday choked up as she delivered an impassioned speech about gun violence in her hometown of Chicago.

The first lady became emotional as she talked about addressing the classmates of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old who was shot shortly after she performed at President Obama's inauguration. Michelle Obama attended her funeral.

"It is hard to know what to say to a roomful of teenagers who are about to bury their best friend," she said.

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She also pointed out the similarities between Pendleton and herself. The teenager was shot about a mile from the Obama home in Chicago.

"Hadiya Pendleton was me, and I was her. But I got to grow up," the first lady said.

Obama's speech was focused on Chicago, which has become notorious for its murder rate, but she also mentioned the gun control debate in Washington.

"Right now my husband is fighting as hard and engaging as many people as he can to pass common-sense reforms to protect our children from gun violence," she said. "These reforms deserve a vote in Congress."


Earlier on Wednesday, a bipartisan group of senators announced a deal to expand background checks for gun sales, paving the way for Senate passage of gun-violence legislation.

Obama's speech on gun violence, made at a luncheon on youth empowerment efforts, was a rare foray by the first lady into a controversial political issue. She was an active campaigner in the 2012 election, but in terms of policy, she has stuck mainly to her signature issues: combating childhood obesity and helping military families.

The first lady's office told The Hill on Tuesday that Obama would give a "deeply personal" address. Her speech was filled with references to her hometown and her childhood there.

"For me, this is personal. Because my story would not be possible without this city," she said.

"I met and married the love of my life here. I raised my children here, who by the way, still refer to Chicago as home."

She urged the crowd to support children, not just through resources, but also with their actions. Obama also commended Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who introduced her, and his $50 million fund to help at-risk kids.