Statement from Assembly Member Michael Blake
Each year, we begin February by celebrating Black History Month, continuing the legacy of Negro History Week that began years ago. But, this year is different. It is the year of the 50th anniversary of Brother Dr. King being taken from us and we are forever grateful for the impact he had on humanity. Recalling the activism that arose from the younger generation in the Civil Rights movement, we take pride in the current rise of millennials as they have become the largest voting block in our nation. However, we must not let our positivity and determination be dampened by the words of leaders trying to divide Africans from African Americans or Dominicans from Haitians. Let us look for inspiration and encouragement to movements such as #PowertothePolls, to Black Women such as Tamika Mallory, New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, N.Y. Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Mayors Lovely Warren, Keisha Lance Bottoms and Vi Lyles and organizations such as Higher Heights and Generation Citizen. Their work emphasizes the importance of being silent no more. We are turning pain into promise.
This Black History Month, we remind the world that we are a resilient people who shall be celebrated each day of the year not just for a limited time in February or for a few days during Kwanzaa. We choose HOPE over hate, action over anger, excellence over excuses, boilers over blankets, stem cells over jail cells and we are telling our story rather than relying on others to do so for us.
We choose to turn poverty into prosperity and struggling into self-sufficiency by focusing on developing skills for jobs of today and tomorrow while supporting our Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises. We recognize the Chief of Staffs who turn our vision into victory such as Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker for all people or Sabrina Philson in an assembly district. We declare that our Black History will always trump any misleading tweet or attempt to distort actual historical events. We emphatically declare that we shall continue to overcome any and all weapons formed against us from prospering. We declare that our history from slave ships to Chairwomanships proves that our blocks won't block our blessings and our zip codes won't deny our destiny.
Our Black History is this World's History. We cannot grow as a people unless we acknowledge our true lineage; from the birth of our civilization in Africa, to Caribbean destinations such as my beloved Jamaica, to ascending northbound so that we are #BuildingABetterBronx.
We are the ones we have been waiting for and all we have to do is to examine our origins to realize that our accomplishments are worthy of respect and awe. Let's begin this Black History month with a commitment to celebrate our past accomplishments and plan for the current and future work required to continue to break down barriers and move our people forward.