Mayor Eric Adams: Let’s bring the LaGuardia Choir back up. You know, c’mon. C’mon up. C’mon up. C’mon. [Laughter.]
Oh, man. Just…just…just stay and hang out right here. You know, hang out right here. And you know the rules: you don’t stand for me, I stand for you. I was rushing this morning going to the police commissioner’s State of the NYPD, and as I was ironing my shirt…yes.
That’s right. Because nobody gets it right, and I like it right. And for some reason it just wouldn’t iron. I was so busy rushing that I looked over and realized it was not plugged up.
And so when you heard the choir sing today, they said, the source of my strength. What is your source? What are you plugged into? Are you plugged into a foundation of faith, or are you looking over and realize that you’re not plugged into anything?
Because it doesn’t matter the language, it doesn’t matter your origin, it doesn’t matter where you are from. If you are plugged into a source of faith, you will be able to accomplish the task. Little did I know, God told me that these young people are going to tell you why that cord was not plugged in.
And they are sending us a message, because if you don’t realize it and if you’re not connected into the spiritual source of not only New York and America but of the globe, then you would not have a full understanding of what is happening to us globally.
And people criticize because I am an elected official that I connect to the spirituality of my experience. I am not who I am because I’m bright. I’m not who I am because of being a former captain, being a former borough president, state senator, for going and obtaining my college degrees.
That’s not who I am. I’m not who I am because I’m the best, I’m who I am because I’m blessed. And you have to be blessed to be able to complete the task that was put in front of us.
The biggest mistake we made, the philosophers stated that we are not human beings with spiritual moments, we’re spiritual beings with human moments. There is a desire of a reconnection to our spirituality that we have abandoned so much.
And these young people came in and they used the power of their voice to tell us to pause and think for a moment of what we’re doing.
There is a demonic energy that has engulfed our globe. And we are so ashamed to talk about it. We’re seeing it in front of us, and we say if we mention it, people are going to say, well, why are you talking about these spiritual things? It is the spiritual things that got us here. It’s going to be the spiritual things. things that’s going to sustain us while we’re here.
And I cannot thank these young people enough, because you can sometimes be so engulfed in the uncertainty of your journey that along the way as a traveler who’s on the road, you will feel as though you were lost sometimes until you get to a sign that tells you you are still on the right path.
And today their song told me, Eric, you on the right path. Keep doing what you’re doing. In spite of all the noise, all God keeps saying to me: stay focused, no distraction and grind. [Laughter.] That’s all we know.
And we’re at a critical path in our humanity right now, and I tell the story over and over again because I want people to remember it. Growing up as a child attending that little small storefront church on Rockaway Avenue, go to service during the day, take a break, go home and eat and come back at night.
We didn’t have that middle part because Mommy was raising six of us. She was a cook in Amsted Daycare Center. We knew what the children would eat every day ’cause she would carry those Tupperware bowls and bring home the leftovers— but sometimes, it did not last throughout the entire week.
And one evening after the evening service, a car caravan of women came to our homes and started unloading boxes of groceries, placing on our little modest countertop, prayed with us and sang with us.
Late that night, I went downstairs and I was so excited that we were going to be able to have real milk and not the powdered milk, real egg and not the powdered egg. And I looked inside the boxes, people, and some of you heard me talk about this, but I really want to emphasize on it, the boxes were open: half a box of spaghetti, oatmeal, half a jar of mayonnaise. Those women could not afford to buy us groceries, they gave us half of what they had.
And I remember that day so much and so clearly, because when you fast forward and think about it, Christmas time, they would wrap up gifts and leave it on our back porch. Thanksgiving, they would leave canned goods and a turkey; and during Easter, they will leave six pairs of shoes and slacks for my siblings and me. Always there.
And no matter how challenging it was, God made a way some how, some way. You know, Mommy would just have this level of resiliency and she would say, God’s gonna make a way. And you may question it sometimes. He made a way sometimes she would just pick those magic three numbers and she’ll just hit the number every once in a while.
But it was always an opportunity. And so when you fast forward today, what has happened? How could clergy leaders on Staten Island be getting death threats for trying to help those who are seeking the same thing that we all sought?
You got to take your hat off to Bishop Hyde and Father Hank for what they’re doing on Staten Island. But here’s the key.
Here’s the key that’s so important. I used to teach this young man how to read back when I was coming out of the Police Department and my days as a state senator. And he would have a problem trying to pronounce a particular word.
And I showed him where you should put your emphasis on based on where the accent was located. And he stated that, I got it. That is where you should put your most attention and really put emphasis on.
And I thought about hearing him say it, that is an analogy to our lives: our lives is one word; and the question becomes, where are we emphasizing? Do we emphasize those who sent the hate to the bishop and those who want [to] house; or, do we emphasize the thousands upon thousands New Yorkers who are doing the right thing and saying we are one city and we’re going to lift each other up together.
What are we emphasizing? Do we emphasize the negative parts of our experience, or do we wake up every day and say thank God I’m able to get up and enjoy what life has to offer. All of us are going through some thing, all of us. And what we need to do is to start asking ourselves, where are we placing the accent? Do we place the accents on the one 1 percent of things that happens in our lives that are painful, or the 99 percent of the things that happen that are rejoicing?
Do we rejoice at the fact that we interact with each other every day throughout our days and we’re able to enjoy the humanistic experience that we go through? That is the refocus.
As this administration left the first two quarters of the football game, we went into the locker room and we’re getting ready for the third and the fourth quarter, because we have to bring home the ring. We have to win for you.
Think about what we had in the first quarter. We inherited a city, crime was surging in the wrong direction. Reading and math scores were dismal. No one wanted to open a job in the city. No one wanted to be on our subway system.
People were dealing with mental health crises. Covid was everywhere. We would not have been able to sit in this room, we would all be wearing a mask or social distancing from each other. Our young people did not know if the schools were going to be open or closed. There was this hovering of uncertainty that engulfed the entire city.
Look at where we are two years later. Crime is down. Jobs are up. Tourists are back, 62 million of them. Highest level of private sector jobs in the history of this city. Averaging four million riders back on our subway system. Outpacing the city, the state in reading and writing. Making sure our children can have a clean, safe environment in their school system.
We are just doing it, folks. But if you don’t allow yourself to see where the accent is located, then you will not walk away with the gravitas that comes with being in the greatest city on the globe. If this is the greatest city on the globe, this is the greatest clergy group on the globe and these are the greatest young people on the globe.
You got to walk into your faith and your destiny. And don’t worry about those haters. [Laughter.] They look around and they say, why are you walking around with so much optimism? Why are you moving in your faith? Why do you believe that tomorrow’s going to continue to be greater and greater and greater?
All I can say, God is in charge.
When you… God has sent all of us a lesson. He said, I’m going to take the most broken among us. I’m going to take this young man that was filled with so much pain. I’m going to take him who lived on the verge of homelessness, lived on the verge of uncertainty.
And I say over and over again, I’m going to take this young man who, dyslexic, arrested, rejected, and I’m gonna make him elected to be the mayor of the City of New York.
That’s what God said. That’s what God said. He said, because the young man that’s in Rikers Island can look and say, my mayor was arrested. The young man in the homeless shelter and young woman in the homeless shelter can say, my mayor lived on the verge of homelessness. The young man that feels as though he’s not good enough or he’s not the best at what he does, he feels as though he is not perfect, my mayor is perfectly imperfect.
If my mayor can go from there to become the mayor of the greatest city on the globe, God is saying, look at the lesson [in] the accomplishment.
So, we have a job to do. And the source from my days of being with Reverend Herbert Daughtry in the House of Lords Church, and my source for speaking with the UJC and Bishop Seabrooks and all the other leaders, my source from being in Queens and my Sikh community, feeding thousands of people for free.
My source of going and sitting in some of my synagogues and watching my rabbis and other leaders having a word within their culture Mitzvah so that they give back continuously. My source watching my Muslim brothers and sisters in their basic mosques giving back every day helping the countless number of migrants and asylum seekers that are coming from Muslim countries and holding them up.
My source, watching my Spanish speaking clergy leaders being part of the public safety initiative that we are living through. My source. My source is watching my Buddhist leaders chanting and praying and hoping and putting that good energy into our universe every day.
My source of my strength, my source of my belief. It doesn’t matter what temple you’re in, no matter what building you’re in, no matter what words you use. Imam Pasha stated it best: our babies come out speaking all a universal language. Something happens by the time they reach adulthood that we dismantle what they knew naturally.
It’s time to go back and speak that universal language that our babies are speaking. Let’s do this together, New York. I know what we’re able to do.
And part of our initiative is to bring down the public safety crises that we’re facing. Today, we are announcing a $1.5 million initiative with our faith based community to prevent gun violence, that city wide initiative. I want to thank the clergy collective, Pastor Monrose, and all of you for coming forward and doing this. No matter how people want to make us feel, move from what you felt in 2022. Allow yourself to feel the success of this city.
We are resilient. We never surrender. We never give up. New Yorkers are special people. I don’t just say there’s two types of Americans— those who live in New York and those who wish they could— for no reason at all. There’s something about this place and the diversity as you look at this choir behind me.
All of them come from different places and different walks of life. And when they sang, they sang in unison, you are the source of my strength— and you are the source of my strength.
I need you so much now. We must make sure our spirituality is shown. This is the city where the spirituality is our strength; and through that, we will show the humanity that’s needed at this difficult time. The time is difficult. But this is an Esther 4:14 moment.
God made us for such a time like this. Thank God. Thank you. Let’s continue to lift up each other. Thank you very much.
New York City Hall January 31, 2024
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