NYC Public Advocate's Statement Commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day

January 16th, 2023

Press Release

"At the March for Integrated Schools in 1959, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. urged people to, ‘Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights.’ On a day in his honor, we must commit to this fight in his memory, dedicating ourselves to that struggle - the endless agitation toward equal justice, in the face of ongoing oppression.

"This calling toward the cause of humanity resonates ever louder in this moment, as New York continues to welcome thousands of people seeking asylum to our city. City and state leadership can neither ignore this challenge nor aggravate it by stoking tensions and resentments. We have to actively choose to unite those who are suffering, not allow the adoption of an “us or them” mindset with our newest and aspiring New Yorkers. Look to Dr. King’s example – he would fiercely condemn and fight anti-Black inequity, which is very much alive, and in the same breath call to support all who are struggling against oppression, for ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’

"Rev. Dr. King knew that the movement is strongest when all who have seen injustice in our systems stand by and for one another, rather than sowing division among people most marginalized, we must all grow the movement together, rooted in compassion and conviction.

"In pushing forward on the path for justice, we must recognize the true obstacles and opponents in the way. There will be many who strip Dr. King’s words of their context today in an effort to sanitize their meaning, to align themselves with a man they would have maligned in life, a mission they actively oppose even now.

"We cannot sit idly by in the face of injustices and inequities, and so we must stand, march, and re-commit ourselves to the vocation of agitation. If we center the humanity that Dr. King spoke of, we can ‘make a better person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.’ May we all make that our mission."

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