Often-feuding Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke Monday about honoring Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy with economic and social justice and then marched together behind the same banner supporting a $15 minimum wage.
Their appearances at a National Action Network summit and march came after they co-authored an op-ed piece that rebuked Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for his criticism of “New York values.” Whether it marks a longer-lasting thaw in their relationship remains to be seen.
Cuomo told a reporter that the media had made too much of his relationship with de Blasio, and that they had known each other and their respective families for decades. He also gave the mayor his “best wishes” in his speech on Martin Luther King.
“I get the drama, and I like it, I understand why you like it. It’s a soap opera comes to politics. Historically, governors and mayors do clash,” he said. “There are no two people better equipped to work through tough issues than the mayor and myself.”
Still, there was fierce sniping for months, with Cuomo’s surrogates belititng de Blasio’s management skills and de Blasio accusing the governor of mounting a “vendetta.”
The governor and mayor marched with Rev. Al Sharpton, as well as labor, religious, and civic leaders in Harlem, following the annual NAN gathering of political leaders honoring King’s birthday. Mayoral spokeswoman Karen Hinton said de Blasio was “honored” to march with Cuomo, Sharpton and other city leaders “in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.”
Sharpton talked during the summit about meeting earlier Monday in Washington with the family of Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who was killed in a mass shooting at a Charleston, South Carolina, church last year.
“We won’t let hate win. We won’t become the haters,” said Sharpton. “We don’t fight out of hate. We fight because we love ourselves and everyone.”
Civic leaders spoke about what they were doing to advance King’s legacy, such as advocating for a $15 minimum wage, supporting labor unions and fighting gun violence.
“I believe we should have a minimum wage of $15 an hour everywhere in America,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y. “If you work hard, you should be able to live a life, not a rich life, but at least a life of dignity.”
De Blasio said King was vilified by the American mainstream while he was alive, and highlighted his administration’s work on criminal and economic justice, such as NYPD reform and free pre-K education.
“You can become a safer and fairer city simultaneously,” he said. “Crime is down, and stop and frisk is down 93 percent in this city.”
Mothers of men killed by the police, such as Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Anthony Baez, honored Cuomo during the summit for creating a special prosecutor to independently investigate police-related shootings.
Cuomo said New York was a model for a nation in creating the independent prosecutor.
“They got justice, not just for their families, but for families all across the state,” said Cuomo. “It wouldn’t have happened without the mothers.”