Mayor Eric Adams: I love New York. And I see my good friend, Senator Joe Addabbo as well, who carried the bill in the Senate. I’m just really proud of Assemblywoman Rajkumar. And history, I have a whole chapter in my book dedicated to you in this pursuit of this holiday. The hours it took, seeing the vision, placing her community on her back and making sure she sits down at the table of power in one of the most powerful legislative bodies in the country. She brought the issues and concerns of her community there, and just a real leader, coming in the spirit of Shirley Chisholm, of being the first. There’s so much that’s on your shoulders, and she lived up to it every day, more than just this holiday pursuit, but just making sure that those Indian Americans will have their voices heard.
We do a series of flag raisings down at Bowling Green and the team reminds me all the time that many of our communities have never had their flag raised there. When we became mayor last year, over and over again, it was the first time their flag was raised, over and over. They would come and tell me, “No one even thought about raising our flag here at Bowling Green.” Being mayor of this city is substantive and symbolic. Those items must go together. Yes, we must do those substantive things to keep the city safe, to keep the productivity, to make sure businesses are here, that we build housing, that we take homeless people off our streets and give them the dignity they deserve. That we ensure we settle fair union contracts for those who are keeping our city open. But there are the symbolic things that say, “You are welcome.” They’re the things that we must do to tell those who feel intimidated by government, that you are part of this city and not considered an outsider.
And that was what Chancellor Banks had in mind when we sat down and stated, “How do we get this done?” How do we tell a community that for so many years we’re stating, “We believe that this holiday is so important to our families and to our children.” And the chancellor and his team, Mark Treyger, sat down and came up with a way to move it forward. But our idea of moving it forward could not accomplish the task alone. We had real partners in Albany with Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and the Speaker, Assemblyman Carl Heastie, as well as the other partners who were there, our local electeds who went to Albany with all that they had to do of the substantive things, they said, “We must also do the symbolic acts also.” And I see them here now and I want to thank them for assisting in this endeavor, the partnership that we needed to make this happen in a real way.
This holiday means so much to the community. And as I moved throughout the community, I heard over and over again, as you said, your mother said, “Will we get the bill passed?” Our first arrival of Indian Americans wanted something to hold onto and it meant so much to them, and that is why this pursuit was extremely important and it was something that we believe we could get done with the help of our colleagues both in the state and in the city. City Council members, some of them standing here today, led their voices to this, although they could not vote on the issue, their voices played such an important role. And then with the support of our county leader, Brooklyn County Leader, Assemblywoman Bichotte, who made it clear that she was going to bring her support to this issue. And when you look at the combined effects, we cannot say enough thank-yous to all those who played a significant role.
And so today, I’m proud that the State Assembly and the State Senate have passed the bill making Diwali a New York City Public School holiday. And we feel confident that the governor is going to sign this bill into law. This is a victory, not only from the men and women of the Indian community and all communities that celebrate Diwali, but it’s a victory for New York. New York continues to lead the way. We had a city that certain things were allowed for certain groups. Everything from, Open Streets were only for Manhattan, now it’s the five boroughs. All those items that were just unique to certain parts of the city, certain parts of the people who are here, we are now saying New York is made for everyone. No matter where you came from, once you arrive here you are part of the New York family and the New York experience, that is our concern.
No one knows this better than African Americans. Our long fight in pursuit to get Dr. King a holiday, many states push back and argued, we marched, we fought, we talked. And it is only significant for this moment that we do the comparison and analogy of what Gandhi meant to Dr. King. We’re saying, Dr. King meant a lot to Gandhi, and Gandhi meant a lot to Dr. King, and we need each other in a very symbolic and substantive way. This victory will allow those who did not feel seen and did not feel heard, we are saying, “We see you, we hear you, we respect you and your culture is part of the New York experience.”
This is a city that’s continuously changing, continuously welcoming communities from all over the world. Our school calendar must reflect the new reality on the ground. It cannot reflect the absence of those who are not being acknowledged. And we do it within the restraints of having a calendar that we must respect by law and we will continue to do so. The reality of the diverse communities that makes us who we are is shown each time we acknowledge the existence of a day that we state, “Let’s pause for a moment and acknowledge that cultural contribution.” Even as borough president, this was part of my vision to see a Diwali holiday.
And it should not go unnoticed, that during the time that we acknowledge the Diwali holiday during my administration, we also acknowledged Juneteenth. We made this our priority and we did it, and this is called, promises made, promises kept. It was a rollercoaster ride, but we held on, we went through the ups and the downs, the twists, the turns, the curves, the low points and the high points. But at the end of the ride, when we pulled into the stop, we’re all saying to each other right now, “What a ride, what a ride.” And this is how we accomplish these tasks. We are clear, and I am proud to be a New Yorker because we celebrate all different cultures. That’s the kind of city we are. That’s the kind of city we want to be. As mayor, I will continue to fight for all New Yorkers to honor our diverse communities because you are what makes New York City the greatest place on earth, because of the people and who we are. Thank you. Great job, Assemblywoman, well done, well done.
New York City Hall NYC Mayor Office news – Big New York News BigNY.com –
Midtown Tribune News –
Big New York – New Jersey, Connecticut News Business – Job- Moneymakers – Resume – Services – Hospitals-ITTri-state area – New York – New York City – Manhattan – Brooklyn – Queens – Staten Island – Bronx – Long Island