Several Brooklyn’s Caribbean legislators on Monday joined elective officials and others in honoring the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Today, we take a moment to commemorate humanitarian and civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said Assembly Member Diana C. Richardson, representative for the 43rd Assembly District. “Dr. King’s activism and leadership paved the way in providing basic rights and liberties for many that we now often take for granted.
“Dr. King once said that ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?’” added Richardson, the daughter of Aruban and St. Martin immigrants.
“In celebration of Dr. King’s life and legacy, I encourage you to become more civically engaged in your community in any way possible: donate to a homeless shelter, help your neighbor carry their groceries, become a mentor, go to a community board meeting, or start a tenant or block association,” she continued.
Richardson’s Assembly colleague, Rodneyse Bichotte, who represents the 42nd Assembly District, described Dr. King as “iconic” and “progressive.”
“Dr. King exuded great bravery and leadership when confronting injustices and inciting non-violent protests throughout the 1950s and 1960s, as part of the Civil Rights Movement,” said the daughter of Haitian immigrants.
Assembly Member Bichotte said King’s accomplishments were numerous, “including leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was led in response to the famous arrest of Rosa Parks; directing the Birmingham Campaign, which took place in one of the most racially-divided cities in America at the time; and being instrumental in the March on Washington, which is one of the largest political rallies for human rights in history, with over 250,000 participants.”
“His most transcendent achievement is his acclaimed and frequently quoted ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, which was responsible for hotly intensifying the Civil Rights Movement, giving hope to many in one of the darkest times in American history,” she added.
“For so many, Dr. King’s ideas are studied as fixtures that remedied what was,” Bichotte continued. “The plight of African-Americans who were treated unequally more than 50 years ago was Dr. King’s prime objective. However, his words and legacy can still be guiding lights for the issues of today.
“We’ve come so far, and we thank courageous heroes like Dr. King for getting us there,” she said. “However, I hope that we take this day to not only reflect but to recommit ourselves to the lessons we gleaned from him.”
Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, deputy leader of the City Council and representative for the 45th Council District, said Dr. King’s impact on “our nation and the world is immeasurable, a man whom I have always counted among my personal heroes.
“Dr. King was one of the most visionary leaders, most effective activists, most inspirational figures, in our history,” said the son of Grenadian immigrants. “He committed, and ultimately lost, his life to the fight for justice and equity, to creating transformational change, and inspired so many to take up that fight.”
Williams said many of the injustices that Dr. King fought against still exist today, “despite a veil of perceived equality that many wears for their own comfort.
“But inequity in this country, and in New York, remains pervasive,” he said. “The Civil Rights Movement was not a moment in history, but is an ongoing struggle of the oppressed and the ‘other’ in society. On race, on religion, on sexual orientation and gender identity, the movement continues.
“Progress and improvement cannot be allowed to serve as a stand-in for real equity,” he continued. “The fight continues and even escalates as we work not only to move forward but to preserve the gains made over decades.”
Dr. Mathieu Eugene, the Haitian-born representative for the 40th Council District, said: “As we pause to remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let us continue to live by the principles of equality and justice that defined Dr. King throughout his remarkable life.
“While there is much work to be done in this great nation to uphold Dr. King’s message of morality and civility, by working together, it is possible to find common ground, even in the face of hate and bigotry,” Eugene said.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said the message and mission of Dr. King “feels as necessary today as it did more than 50 years ago.
“In an era deeply impacted by division and discrimination, his legacy reminds us that the time is always right to do what is right.,” Adams said. “To paraphrase Dr. King, our ultimate measure is not where we stand in moments of comfort and convenience but at times of challenge and controversy.
“We cannot be silent in the face of intolerance, or stationary in the midst of inaction,” he added. “With acts of service and struggle both great and small, focused both globally and hyper-locally, it is up to each one of us to carry our own piece of the mantle once borne by Dr. King, as well as the countless women and men who have fought for equality and social justice.
“May this day re-energize us on that long journey to the mountaintop,” continued Adams on Monday.