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Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo Celebrates Brooklyn's Diversity at Inauguration

By Sonja Sharp | January 13, 2014 9:21am
 New York City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo celebrated the diversity of her Brooklyn district with an eclectic swearing-in ceremony Sunday. 
Laurie Cumbo Inauguration
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FORT GREENE — Newly elected City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo celebrated her inauguration at a New York City Housing Authority community center with a multicultural round of performers and audience members, including Orthodox Hasidic deejays, dancers from the Brooklyn Ballet, and poets from the New York Writers Coalition.

"This isn't just an inauguration — it's a cultural extravaganza," said Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, who was among the many politicians who spoke at the event. 

Cumbo, founder of the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, represents the diverse 35th council district, which encompasses Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights, as well as portions of Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights.

Cumbo, who enjoyed a handy victory in the Democratic primaries in September, came under fire from many in the community in the interim between her election and her swearing-in, when she published an open letter on Facebook blaming a series of alleged "knockout game" attacks in Crown Heights on tension between the neighborhood's blacks and Jews

"I've had what some would call a challenging transition," Cumbo said Sunday of the fallout from the letter, for which she later apologized. "In my pursuit to bring people together during my transition, I created a polarizing experience for members of my district." 

Nevertheless, Cumbo said she looked forward to serving the needs of all of those in her community.

"The 35th council district is perhaps one of the watched and exciting districts in New York City," Cumbo told the crowd at Ingersoll Community Center in Fort Greene, which is part of a NYCHA complex. "While growth and development is happening at lightning speed, many individuals can’t keep pace with the growth and are left behind."

Congresswoman Yvette Clark said Cumbo's choice to hold her inauguration at the NYCHA community center "is a reflection of the councilwoman’s desire to serve the most needy among us." 

The ceremony included invocations by local faith leaders Rev. Alpher Sylvester, Rabbi Chezzie Denebeim and Imam Mujahid Cumberbatch, as well as performances by MC DeScribe and DJ Nesher, the New York Writers Coalition, the Brooklyn Music School and the Brooklyn Ballet. 

First Lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray, was also present at the ceremony.

"[Cumbo] truly understands that we build up our city by building up our people, and one of the ways we do that is through art," said McCray, who joined Jeffries, Clark, Sen. Chuck Shumer, State Assemblyman Walter Mosley, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Borough President Eric Adams, among others, in praising the new councilwoman.