Swayed by the inspiring sounds of the New Life Tabernacle Choir, Brooklynites lifted their voices in song to celebrate the progress that has happened since Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death as well as catalyze the social change that needs to come.
Scores of public officials filled the front rows at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in downtown Brooklyn (30 Lafayette Ave.) and made personal remarks at the 24th Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 18.
Borough President Marty Markowitz opened the ceremony with an energetic oration on the strides that people of color have made in New York City, the importance of the 2010 Census, an obituary on black leaders and public figures who died in the past year, and even a few digs at Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.
In his remarks, Governor David Paterson recounted a story about nearly being prevented from eating at a restaurant in a baseball stadium because of his race and challenged his colleagues to “dedicate their service divinely do God” working for peace, justice and serving other men, in a manner reminiscent of Dr. King’s challenge in a sermon delivered near the end of his life.
Senator Chuck Schumer followed those remarks by urging those in attendance to hold up a mirror to American society, root out injustice and help those in crisis, particularly those affected by the Haitian earthquake.
“It is a job, a moral mission to rebuild Haiti together, not forget about it six months to a year from now,” said Schumer.
In the most poignant moment of the ceremony, actor Danny Glover fought back tears in the middle of his keynote address, in which he reflected on the tragedy in Haiti while pondering what Dr. King would do in this situation.
“He understood the nature of small victories and setbacks,” said Glover. “He understood so much of this but in the wake of his absence, what do we understand? We have to understand true peace and simply the truth.”