Why We Wear Orange To Raise Awareness for Gun Violence

Our daughter was only 15 years old when she was shot and killed while at the park with her friends in Chicago. In her honor, we launched National Gun Violence Awareness Day where we wear orange to help stop gun violence.

People wear orange in Chicago in 2017.
People wear orange for National Gun Violence Awareness day at Harold Washington Playlot Park in Chicago in 2017. Photo: Alyssa Schukar for EveryTown for Gun Safety

Parents is teaming up with Everytown for Gun Safety to support their #WearOrange campaign on June 3, 2022, National Gun Violence Awareness Day. We'll be turning our logo orange on site and on our social media channels to honor Hadiya Pendleton and the more than 45,000 Americans killed by guns every year.

Our daughter, Hadiya Pendleton, was funny, attentive, talented, and wise beyond her years. Hadiya had performed in President Barack Obama's second inaugural events with her high school band as a majorette. It was an exciting time that was short-lived.

Shortly after, on January 29, 2013, Hadiya had finished her final exams and was sheltering from the rain in the park with friends when a perpetrator began shooting. No parent should ever have to get a phone call that their child has been shot—and yet that happens more readily in America, especially in Black and Brown communities. Guns are the leading cause of death for American children. Hadiya was only 15.

Why We Wear Orange For National Gun Violence Awareness Day

Hadiya's death devastated our family and friends. We fight for her because we know it is what Hadiya would have done. After her death, Hadiya's friends created Project Orange Tree in her honor, which calls on young people to tackle gun violence and the structural violence behind it. On what would have been Hadiya's 18th birthday in 2015, the first ever National Gun Violence Awareness Day was declared. The ask: to wear the color orange for gun violence awareness.

The color orange was chosen because it is bright and powerful and carries a simple message: don't shoot. Wearing orange on National Gun Violence Awareness Day, the first Friday in June, and on Wear Orange Weekend, the following weekend, honors the more than 110 U.S. lives cut short by gun violence daily. This year, Wear Orange takes place from June 3-5, 2022. We're wearing orange as our country stands at this powerful crossroads of change.

Hadiya Pendleton
Hadiya Pendleton at 15. Courtesy of Damon Stewart

Hadiya has inspired a movement of thousands of Americans to wear orange with the belief that we can and must end gun violence. It would be awesome to share with her what has been accomplished in her absence. But when remembering our daughter, who was smart, athletic, a fierce friend, a loving sister, daughter, and much more, we are not surprised that she has had such an impact on the world. She often declared that she would be a household name—but who knew at what cost.

How You Can Help End Gun Violence

We wear orange for Hadiya and all the other lives cut short by gun violence. We will be their voice.

To join us, visit WearOrange.org to find a Wear Orange event near you, contact your local officials to demand they take action, and donate to the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund.

Nathaniel and Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton are the co-founders of Hadiya's Promise and members of the Everytown Survivor Network.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles