Gospel music had to be played to drown out the mournful screams and sobs from many friends, relatives, and supporters who came out, dressed in purple, to lay 19 year old Kanneka Jenkins to rest.
It was more than 1,000 people, who may not even knew Kanneka, who came out for the Chicago teen’s wake and funeral at the House of Hope Church.
Kanneka Jenkins has became a household name and many wanted to show Teresa Martin that they supported her, as she still seeks answers about the events surrounding her daughter’s death.
Jenkins was found dead Sept. 10 in a walk-in freezer at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel & Conference Center in Rosemont, where she had attended a party earlier that weekend.
Joseph Alvarez, who has known Jenkins since she was an 8th grader, said there were a lot of emotions in the air during Saturday’s service.
“I’ve known her for a while, since her mom would have events in Douglas Park to gather the kids together without violence,” said Alvarez, 23. “[Martin] knows I love her, I tell her all the time to stay strong and to continue to show that passion and power.”
Jenkins’ death has drawn international attention since her body was found in the hotel freezer. The teen left her home near the United Center at 11:30 p.m. Sept. 8 to attend a party at the hotel, police said. Jenkins’ sister last heard from her by a text message about 1:30 a.m. Sept. 9, and she was last seen by her friends at a party on the ninth floor of the hotel early that morning.
Jenkins was reported missing that Saturday afternoon, and authorities found her in the freezer shortly after midnight.
Friends and family did not speak during the funeral; instead it was up to pastors James Meeks, a former state lawmaker, and Andre Williams to eulogize the young woman.
“Some of us are best friends because of Kenneka,” Williams said. “She was sent her to serve a purpose — which she did — and that was to touch the world.”
Despite the attention, church staff on Saturday did what they could to create a safe space for Jenkins’ family to grieve, specifically Jenkins’ mother, Tereasa Martin, who was besieged with hugs from friends and strangers.
Little was shared about Jenkins herself during the service, though a light moment came when one of Jenkins’ three young nieces read a personal poem dedicated to their aunt.
“Every time I feel upset she makes me feel like a princess. Neka was so funny she would make me cry,” one of the girls said.
Although the case still isn’t solved, I’m glad the home going service was about celebrating the life of Kanneka. For those of us who couldn’t be there to celebrate Kanneka’s life, the out pour of love on social media lets the family know she is not forgotten. We must continue to pray that justice will be served and peace will be brought to the Jenkins/Martin family.