Adams, Hochul vow to continue Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy via policy

Adams, Hochul vow to continue Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy via policy

Local and national politicians paid tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday’s federal holiday honoring the iconic civil rights leader, vowing to carry out his legacy with public policy.

During the city’s annual Brooklyn Academy of Music event, Eric Adams, the Big Apple’s second black mayor, spoke about his pre-inaugural trip to Ghana, where he powerfully recounted seeing dungeons at a former slave trading post where Africans endured torturous conditions before being “ripped apart from their families.”

“I heard over and over again how hard it is to be the mayor of the City of New York. And I said: No, hard is living in that dungeon. Hard is watching your wife or your mother have the baby ripped from their stomach to send a message,” Adams said Monday morning.

“Hard is working in the fields all night just to deliver your child and go right back and work again. Hard is kick in the cabin door and sodomize and rape your children and have you still stay on that plantation,” he went on. “Hard is building America, only to watch yourself relegated to a position that you will never participate in the prosperity that this country has to offer. That’s hard.” 

Adams speaks on the Knicks court.
Adams recounted his pre-inaugural trip to Ghana, where he saw dungeons at a former slave trading post where Africans endured torturous conditions before being being separated from their families.
NBAE via Getty Images
Hochul speaks at a state podium.
Hochul spoke Monday, stating that King’s work is far from over and needs to be continued by Americans today.
Darren McGee/Office of Governor
People hold up signs saying "Give us the ballot. Freedom to vote."
People participated in a peace walk across the Douglas Bridge to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Washington, DC.
AFP via Getty Images

Adams vowed to be “King-like” by reducing educational, housing and gun violence-related injustices facing New Yorkers, and declared he will have “failed” as a mayor and his predecessors if he is unable to do so.

“If I am I just the second African-American mayor of the city of New York and I fail to stop the systemic problems we have been facing — then I have failed that journey I took in Ghana. I failed those laid the path for me to be here,” Hizzoner told the crowd. “I’m committed and dedicated to getting this job done.”

At the same event, Gov. Kathy Hochul said of MLK, “All of us must carry on his work, even decades later, because the work is not finished. The work is far from finished.”

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks virtually to the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church on Martin Luther King, Jr.
Harris said that Americans must continue to fight for the freedom of all to vote in order to truly honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
A group of people stand outside. the church to watch the television.
People in Atlanta braved cold temperatures to listen to Harris’ virtual remarks on the federal holiday.
Students display signs that say "yes, I'm a voter."
Inside the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, students participated in the Martin Luther King Jr Beloved Community Service by displaying signs regarding voting rights.

Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris delivered virtual remarks from Washington, DC to a congregation in Atlanta, Georgia, praising King as a “prophet” before saying his teachings bolster the case for Democrats’ sweeping election reforms.

“It is time for the United States Senate to do its job,” she told congregants at Ebenezer Baptist Church. “Today we must not be complacent or complicit. We must not give up, and we must not give in. To truly honor the legacy of the man we celebrate today, we must continue to fight for the freedom to vote, for freedom for all.”

President Biden, who did not make a public appearance as of early Monday afternoon, expressed a similar message in a prepared video tweeted from his account.

“Dr. King wasn’t just a dreamer; he was a doer,” said Biden. “And on this federal holiday that honors him, it’s not just enough to praise him, we must commit to his unfinished work, to deliver jobs and justice, to protect the sacred right to vote.”

Saturday would have been King’s 93rd birthday if he were alive. Monday’s events marked the 36th annual holiday dedicated to Dr. King.

Additional reporting by Steven Nelson

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