December 5, 2021
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Grace and Peace, CCC. Hello everybody. First, I want to give honor to God. Without Him, this day would not be possible.
When I come here, I really feel not only energy, but hope and joy. And what has been created over the years at CCC, there are very, very few things in life that I can think of that compare. Something is happening here every time you enter this shrine. We have been here through painful times, including just a few weeks ago. But we were also able to be here in moments of joy. And it’s a place that keeps us going. Have you ever felt this way? When you come here, it keeps you going. It allows you to believe. It allows you to see something better in front of you.
A lot of it was because of seeing a really, really tall man. And he put his love, his heart, all his abilities to create this for each of you. And, by the way, for this whole town. Pastor AR Bernard is irreplaceable in New York City – irreplaceable.
I represent 8.8 million people – as I like to say, 8.8 million very opinionated people. Can I get an amen?
Public: Amen –
Mayor: People have strong attitudes in our city. But one thing that I have seen, literally, everywhere, is respect for Pastor Bernard. And I’m not just talking about one community or another. I am talking about all communities, all faiths. And he has been one of the main religious leaders in this city, helping us stay united, even in our most difficult times. COVID was an unimaginable crisis. We have all experienced it. To get through something like this, you need people who really are your rock. So for everything he has done for each of you, for everything he has done for this amazing place, but, more importantly, what he has done for our larger community, the love he created and hope he nurtured, please join me in thanking Pastor Bernard.
Mayor: You can be stronger than that.
I love him too.
I’ll be very brief, but I want to say a big thank you. And it’s personal for me and Chirlane, and Chiara, and Dante. I mean, thank you, because of you – literally, because of you, CCC was one of the places where we felt the most love, the most support. Thanks to you, these eight years we have tried with all our heart to change the city. But also, thanks to you, we felt that there was always support. There was always wind under our wings. And I have to tell you that because of the power of this place, I think you can recognize the mistake of our society, the contradiction that runs through it all the time, that we are all bombarded every day with messages from what what’s wrong with us, why we are inferior to, or what we can’t do, what we shouldn’t be doing. Has anyone been through this before? Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt that way in the media, in the society around you. We are told what we cannot do. And I have certainly experienced this in many ways in my own family’s life and in my own upbringing, but I also experienced the idea of offering a different perspective and then being told it was outrageous. and unacceptable.
You may remember eight years ago the raging debate over what I fundamentally believe was a broken and unconstitutional stop and search policy, degrading our young people, holding them back. The conventional wisdom was that if you changed this policy there would be crime and disorder. It was a lie. It was a lie. We have been told. Well, if you want security you have to give up some of your rights and some of your dignity. And we didn’t believe it. The majority did not believe it. We were told what we couldn’t do, but in fact when we tried to do something different it turned out to be the right way.
So very simply, I will say, I have had this pattern repeated over and over again. I said, why don’t we have a pre-K for every kid? I was told it was scandalous and impossible. Guess what? Because of you – thanks to you – literally, thanks to you, every child in New York City is receiving kindergarten for free today. It happened. And now we’re doing the same for three-year-olds. And we were told that when I presented a plan – 200,000 affordable apartments for people in need in the city – I was told it was too high. That will never happen. Guess what? It happened. When I said $ 25 billion should go to minority and women owned businesses – $ 25 billion in government contracts should be our target, I was told it was too high, it was impossible. Guess what? We will achieve this goal. $ 25 billion to the community.
And something so poignant that we all understand and finally talk about. When my wife, Chirlane, said, we have to break this mental health stigma once and for all. We need to stop treating mental health as something we can’t talk about. We have to stop acting like it’s a character flaw if you have a human problem and a human challenge. And Chirlane had the audacity to say, in this city, we are going to break the stigma and provide mental health support for everyone. And this is happening now in New York. It’s happening.
The common bond throughout – two things. First, these changes are happening because of you, because you demanded and believed. And the second is, whenever you’re told what you can’t do, what you shouldn’t do, what you can’t achieve, what you’re not good enough to do, which is impossible – every time you are told it is impossible, it confirms that it is possible. Whether it’s in your personal life or whether it’s how we change our city and our society.
So I’m going to leave you with this – deep thanks – deep personal thanks for allowing me to take this journey with you. To be indispensable, because it would not have existed. If you weren’t there, it couldn’t have been. And now I’m going to tell you that after eight years – and Pastor and I have been fortunate enough to spend some personal time together, which is always, for me, one of the highlights when I have that time. to really rejuvenate myself, and reflect, and be in his presence, and listen to his advice – and I told him, from the bottom of my heart, that I actually feel more optimistic today than I did eight years ago. And that’s after COVID and everything, because I saw what could be. And I’ll tell you what I want to do next. I want to help our children. I want to go further in this city, in this state. Here is what I think we should be doing. I think every parent, every family member, you need to know that your child can stay in school until the moment you stop working. You should have the right for your child to be in school until 6:00 p.m. free of charge, in a safe environment, to learn, grow and be supported. It should be a right in a good and decent society. And in the summer, you need to know – if you want your child in the summer to go to their neighborhood school, and do field trips, arts and hobbies, and learn all summer, from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. should be there for you. It should be free. It must be guaranteed. Every family deserves this. Think about what it will do to raise our children.
And if you hear that and think, well, that sounds a bit like overbreadth – that’s what they said about Pre-K for All. But we did it together, didn’t we? We did it together. I want you to feel that we did it together. If you love it, then thank yourself, because you made it happen. You made it happen. You made it happen.
I just leave you with a feeling of gratitude. It is a season of reflection and a season of gratitude. I feel the kindness of people deep inside me. Look around for a moment. Look around and you see all that’s good not only in this church, but in this city, in this nation. Look around and remember, these are not the divisions. It’s not the angry voices. It is the good hearts of the people that will support us. Look around and feel the hope that I am feeling right now as I look at this amazing congregation. I leave you today seeing better, better times to come thanks to you. Thank you and God bless you all.