Obama Center 'winter garden' to honor Chicago teen killed days after performing at inauguration

Hadiya Pendleton was killed days after performing at President Barack Obama's 2nd inauguration

Leah Hope Image
Friday, January 28, 2022
Obama Center 'winter garden' to honor Hadiya Pendleton
All visitors to the Obama Presidential Center will pass through a "winter garden' named in honor of Hadiya Pendleton.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Amid a snow-covered Jackson Park, there are plans for a bright sunny garden.

Hadiya Pendleton Winter Garden will be a place that will welcome visitors to the Obama Presidential Center.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama made a special announcement Friday morning about the Obama Presidential Center coming to Chicago

"When I learned the winter garden would be named in honor of Hadiya, my heart just melted," said her mother, Cleo Cowley-Pendleton.

Over the years, the Obamas have spent time with Hadiya's family. And in December, Michelle Obama asked Hadiya's mother if the Obamas could honor Hadiya that way.

"You can see the shock and joy in her face," said Michael Strautmanis, executive vice president of civic engagement for the Obama Foundation.

RELATED: Mickiael Ward, convicted in Hadiya Pendleton death, sentenced to 84 years in prison

He said the garden will be enclosed in glass in the winter, but will be opened up in better weather. And it will be the area through which all will walk through to access the center's three buildings and programs.

"Our hope in celebrating her life in this sun-filled space," Strautmanis said. "That people get the opportunity to really reflect on how important our children are to us and hopefully reflect on steps we can all take to protect them."

In 2013, Hadiya Pendleton was a shot and killed eight days after performing as a majorette with the King College Prep band at President Obama's second inauguration. Michelle Obama attended her funeral.

RELATED: Getaway driver in Hadiya Pendleton shooting sentenced to 42 years

"Hopefully this garden will share her light with even more people for generations to come," Michelle Obama said.

"I think it's so important that Hadiya matters, because we all matter," her mother said.

Recently Center donor Jeff Bezos asked for the plaza of the Center to be named for the late Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis.

The plan is for visitors to walk across the Lewis plaza into the Hadiya Pendleton Winter Garden and the Obama Center sometime in 2025.