HARLEM — Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray hailed the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday's holiday in his honor — and likened the new administration's policy agenda to that of the civil rights giant.
“The spirit of Dr. King's teachings are alive in City Hall,” McCray told a crowd of several hundred people gathered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as a beaming de Blasio looked on.
“With your continued support and prayers, and with leadership from Mayor de Blasio, we’re going to make this city — this great city — one city,” she added. “Not one simply for the well-to-do and fortunate, but a city for all. By doing that, New York will be a city worthy of Dr. King’s memory.”
De Blasio also praised Kings’s legacy, calling him “our nation's greatest apostle of freedom, and social and economic justice” whose message was embodied by the elected officials who took office earlier this month.
“The government that you have elected is a profoundly progressive one that believes in the values of Dr. King, we feel it deeply,” de Blasio said during a day marked by visits to a soup kitchen in downtown Brooklyn and the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network in Harlem.
“This government together will start the work of changing our city, just as if Dr. King were on this stage, pushing us to do more, reminding us, being conscious. We have to live as if he were sitting here with us,” de Blasio added.
Citing a well-known King quote — “the fierce urgency of now” — de Blasio said the social and economic issues of today required as unwavering a commitment as King showed decades ago.
“We can’t wait because the crisis of inequality has deepened and it is closing doors for hard working people all over this city. It’s a crisis that we have to address head-on,” de Blasio said.
De Blasio touted a number of his top agenda items, including universal pre-kindergarten and paid sick leave, as solutions he said should be realized sooner rather than later.
“I don’t doubt for a moment, if we had the honor, if we could feel the presence of Dr. King sitting here amongst us, he would believe that these are the things that our society required,” de Blasio said.