Kings salutes King: Local luminaries remember civil-rights leader at annual Fort Greene ceremony

In honor: Mayor DeBlasio speaks to the audience during the 33rd Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Monday.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

They’re keeping his dream alive.

Brooklynites packed a Fort Greene theater to honor the late civil-rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on his eponymous federal holiday.

The trailblazing activist who fought to make the country more equitable for all its residents is often remembered for his peaceful, courageous acts — but those are only part of King’s legacy, according to Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who noted his efforts constantly forced him to confront the worst in society in order to make it better.

“I would argue you see a very different vision of what Dr. King was about than the actual one. You see, what I might call, a sanitized vision,” Hizzoner said during the Monday ceremony inside Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House. “Dr. King was not just about Kumbaya and everyone get along. Sure, he believed that equality was how we learned to get along, and how we had a platform to get along, but it was not just everyone love each other, we’re okay, leave the status quo the way it is. He was quite clear that the entire status quo was unacceptable.”

Other speakers at the 33rd-annual tribute to King included the founder of the Me Too movement against sexual harassment and assault, Tarana Burke, the city’s First Lady Chirlane McCray, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–Fort Greene), District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, and Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo (D–Fort Greene), who noted that King’s ideology resonates as strongly in today’s charged political climate as it did when he started preaching it more than 50 years ago, before he was shot and killed while rallying to support Tennessee sanitation workers in 1968.

“His teachings are as relevant today, as they were years ago,” said Cumbo. “Few have done what he has done to foster equality in our country.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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