While praising the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at various events around New York City Monday, elected officials blasted President Trump in abstentia for having “no scheduled events” for MLK Day — except to play a round of golf at his Palm Beach resort.
Thousands attended events around the city, the biggest of which was held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, in the Howard Gillman Opera House in downtown Brooklyn on Monday morning.
Hundreds of attendees listened to music from the Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir. Local lawmakers who spoke at the event alsocastigated President Trump for failing to both observe MLK Day and promote racial diversity and equality.
Many of those elected officials same officials who attended also attended the MLK Day event at the Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in Harlem, that afternoon. Sharpton criticized the president for playing golf on this important holiday.
“The President has no activity on schedule today around Dr. King,” Sharpton was quick to note. “Last year, we attacked him, and he went over to the King Memorial in the afternoon. For the President of the United States to belatedly one year, and this year, not even belatedly do it, shows the disregard and disrespect that this president has — and even more, he is trying to play a game of polarization.”
Senators Charles Schumer and Kristin Gillibrand also took the president to task for not observing MLK Day — and for disrespecting the impeachment process. Schumer remained on point about the importance of Dr. King’s legacy.
“One day we will celebrate this day with parades and laughter, for the victory we achieve over racism and inequality in America – Dr. King’s dream,” Schumer said.
Gillibrand also mentioned the work of the late Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, who died last year from illness, and Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon who fought for years alongside Dr. King in the 1960s in championing civil rights.
“As we celebrate legacy of Dr. King, these men continued the fight he was so dedicated – it means to walk in righteousness, take the burden and carry on,” Gillibrand said.
Gillibrand also blasted President Trump.
“We must follow the lights that Dr. King gave us and it is a real measure of our success is where we are standing now in time of division and injustice, standing up for every person harmed by Donald J. Trump and his allies, his presidency,” Gilliband said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said President Trump was “using ICE as a political arm of his campaign.”
“He is trying to whip up racist fervor and it is not about protecting our borders or making us safer as we are already the safest city in America,” de Blasio said. “We don’t ask for your papers here. If you live here and ride the subways, you are a New Yorker. This is about Trump creating deeper divisions so he can win an election, but Dr. King believed we can overcome the divisions by working together.”
Council Speaker Corey Johnson said that despite coming so far, “doors of opportunity are still not open to all in the job market for all of our children.”
“We still have some serious challenges including the ‘racist in chief’ in the White House,” Johnson said. “We’ve made great progress, but [also] grappling with the same challenges and issues Dr. King fought with, so we need take action to make change.”
Borough President Eric Adams, a sponsor of the BAM event, said “much more needed to be done to realize Dr. King’s dream.”
“We have tough times together and we can’t do it by pointing and demonizing each other,” Adams said. “It’s not just a conversation, but a destination of what Dr. King talked about – it’s about one people and I don’t want to hear I hate this one, I like this one. We are in this together.”
During his speech, however, Adams condemned the spread of gentrification and suggested that certain newcomers to the city “go back to Iowa” or Ohio, as reported in the New York Post. Adams later clarified his remarks in a tweet, stating, “Let me be clear: Anyone can be a New Yorker, but not everyone comes to our city with the spirit of being part of our city. I have a problem with that, and I’m unapologetic in asking more of our new arrivals to communities who were once waking up to gun shots and not alarm clocks.”