Speaker gives ‘State of the City’ at Kings Theatre

Her final speech: Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito delivered her last State of the City Address at Kings Theatre on Feb. 16.
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

She was the queen of Kings Theatre.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito gave her final State of the City Address at Kings Theatre on Feb. 16. The city’s first Latina speaker — originally from Puerto Rico — used her time on the stage to subtly denounce the Trump administration and promise to protect everyone despite their immigration status.

“Immigration is our national identity. When we speak about cultures, it’s about everyone across our city: Muslims in Astoria. Hindus in Jackson Heights. Russian Jews in Brighton Beach. The Irish in Sunnyside. This is our story. And this is our America,” said Mark-Viverito. “When others close borders, we build bridges. We resist. We fight. We do what New Yorkers have always done: We stand together. Everyone. Everywhere.”

The Speaker outlined her next steps in the Council before she is forced to step down at the end of 2017. She vowed to work to provide free birth control for all women in the city, to improve public housing complexes, and to reduce the number of people being held on Rikers Island.

But it was the theme of Mark-Viverito’s speech — that no one will be forgotten no matter where they come from — that was just the kind of uplifting message that New Yorkers needed to hear during tumultuous times, said one Brooklyn colleague.

“I am a proud son of immigrants, I am the proud grandson of grandparents who lived through World War II — some of the toughest times — and it is very refreshing to hear that we have people in leadership positions who are so open and welcoming to all people, and I think that that’s the story of America, it’s the story of New York,” said Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island). “And we’ve always been that place, whether you come from the former Soviet Union, or you come from Mexico, whether you come here from any part of the world that you have opportunity to live peaceful, prosperous life.”

Brooklyn Democratic Party Boss Frank Seddio agreed — Mark-Viverito’s speech hit the nail on the head, and she’ll excel at whatever office she holds next.

“She was absolutely wonderful, I think about the time I supported her when she first was considering running and watching the woman that she has become today and I can honestly say that this is a woman who came to understand the position and has worked hard to represent all the people in the city,” he said. “And is now at the culmination of her career where she has ended this and will be brilliant for positions in the future, what she might consider.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Hottest show in town: Guests line up outside the Midwood theater to hear Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito speak.
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

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