“The government you have elected is a progressive one,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio at BAM’s annual tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. “It believes in the lessons of Dr. King. We can’t wait because the crisis of inequality has deepened. This is not the New York we want to live in where some can see a bright future and others simply can’t find it.”
Joined on stage by his wife Chirlane McCray, Mayor de Blasio’s message echoed that of other elected officials on hand for the event, as well as those of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton who spoke ahead of the mayor about the need for police reform and a greater sense of public safety saying, “We have committed to the reform of Stop, Question and Frisk. It will not be easy–things worth having are not easy to achieve. Martin Luther King understood that.”
The legacy of the slain Civil Rights leader, who was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn. in 1968, as well as those of the South African leader Nelson Mandela and poet Amiri Baraka (both of whom made advocating for equality their lives’ work), was remembered during a two-hour memorial in Fort Greene this morning. Rather than reflect solely on Dr. King’s life, many who spoke, including Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, took the opportunity to highlight issues of economic, gender and education discrepancies that still prevail across the country (and this city) today–calling for a federal minimum wage of $10 and stressing a need for basic quality of life improvements for all Americans.
“His words are truer now than they ever were,” said Gillibrand who stressed a need to continue to pass MLK’s teachings down to future generations like her own sons, Theo (10) and Henry (5), whom she quizzed about King at the breakfast table before heading to BAM.
Newly elected Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams served as emcee for the event, proving himself adept during one of his first public-speaking engagements since taking office earlier this month.
“I know some of you are going through separation anxiety that you lost Marty Markowitz, but Eric Adams is your borough president now,” said Adams to the laughter of a sold-out audience at the Henry Gillman Opera House. Jokes aside however; Adams took the opportunity to affirm his plans to continue bringing Brooklyn to a greater stage and to address issues of racial and socio-economic stratification in the outer borough, noting as well that 52% of Brooklynites are women, and emphasizing a need for equality across genders.
“I cannot walk in Marty’s shoes,” Adam said, “but I brought a pair of my own. It’s time to make Brooklyn what it ought to be. “