Transcript: Mayor de Blasio delivers remarks at the Evangelical Church of the Crusade

December 5, 2021

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning everyone. First, I want to honor God. Without Him, this day would not be possible.

[Applause]

And I want to make a confession in front of Pastor Sam. Pastor, I love this church. I love this church and I deeply love this community. Pasteur, had a – I’d hate to correct him, but he had a slight slip when he said that I had had more Haitians in important positions than any previous Haitian. And I guess that made me an honorary Haitian, which is a great honor.

[Laughter]

This is a house. It’s a powerful place of faith, but it’s also a home in many ways for this community, in good times and bad. And it is because of an extraordinary tradition started. so nobly Monsignor Nicolas, and now continued and deepened Pasteur Samuel Nicolas. And this good man that I’ve known for over 20 years is speaking up and putting it into action in the community, for the people.

[Applause]

So this holiday season, it’s so important to reflect and count your blessings. You have a pastor who is exemplary as a man of God, but also exemplary as a leader of a community, always helping to uplift and empower the community. What a blessing. Thanks to Pastor Sam.

[Applause]

I want to tell you that it’s so important to recognize the people who make everything possible for us in our lives, but there was a traditional way of doing it. And you may know my wife Chirlane McCray. She is a strong woman and a strong leader in her own right. And she said we were going to use a new type of language, because they used to say, behind every great man stands a great woman. But at Gracie Mansion, that phrase was banned. And we say now that next to every great man stands a great woman. So, thank your first lady, Faride Nicolas, for all she does for this congregation and this community.

[Applause]

And I also have to say that I travel all over the city, and the pastor is right, I go to many wonderful places of worship. But I can tell you, if you want to feel the spirit, be moved, and energized, the praise and worship team here at Evangelical Crusade is one of the best. We congratulate you. We thank you.

[Applause]

For this community. And I mean, if you said, pick a word for the Haitian community, I would say resilient – ​​strong, persistent, resilient. You have been through so much. I remember after all these years, all the challenges, I remember when the worst earthquake happened. And I know that many people have had this same feeling of sinking, how is it possible that a people who have suffered so much are suffering again? the children of God. Good people. And there have been more challenges since. And that’s not to minimize the challenges of those of you who have come here, trying to navigate your way through this city, through this country, when often there isn’t the embrace and the welcome you deserve. It was difficult. It was painful, whether you were talking about your homeland or your experience here. And yet you persist with strength, focus, determination. It’s who you are, strong to the core. And I see it, and I feel it, and I respect it. And I say, God bless you. God bless you.

[Applause]

This church has been a place of comfort and hope for this community. It has been a rock for this community. And pastor, I hope you understand that for so many people, through all the trials and tribulations, there was one thing they could count on, they could count on you and this place.

[Applause]

So I’m going to be very quick. But I want to say another thank you. It’s been eight years, we’ve been together since I became mayor. I couldn’t have been mayor without you. I want to thank you. This wouldn’t have happened without you.

[Applause]

And we couldn’t have changed this town without you. And on the subject of perseverance and resilience, I want you to know that I experienced something that I imagine many of you can relate to personally. I have been told over and over again what I cannot do. I was told, don’t do that. I was told you weren’t going to be able to do that. I was told it was impossible again and again. They told me pre-K for all of our kids just couldn’t happen. It was too big. It was too fast. It couldn’t happen. Well, thanks to you, every child in New York now has the right to free pre-kindergarten.

[Applause]

And it works so well, we said, let’s do the same for three-year-olds. And now every three-year-old will have a free education. You made this possible. They said that it was impossible to create these affordable housing units that Pasteur was talking about to give people more and more opportunities, like the extraordinary Bishop Nicolas residence. They said it was impossible. We said, we will do 200,000 apartments. We will build them, or we will subsidize them, keep them. 200,000 families would have housing they could afford for decades. They said it was impossible. It’s happened now in New York. 200,000 families will have affordable housing. And soon it will be 300,000. They said it was impossible to supply entrepreneurs, small entrepreneurs, people who had worked so hard, people of color, women who had started their own businesses – they said that it was impossible for the government to give them more and more opportunity. Well guess what? We are on track to provide $25 billion in contracts to minority and women-owned businesses. They said that it was impossible to find community solutions for public safety. Well, what we created – many of you know the amazing work of the Precinct Council, God Squad and all the other Cure Violence organizations. We have created a bottom-up approach to security, security created by people. They said it was impossible. We have invested over $100 million in building people-based community solutions.

[Applause]

And they said – and this is so close to my heart and my wife Chirlane’s. They said it was impossible to reach people with mental health issues. This stigma was too strong, it is impossible to break through. Well, I give credit to my wife, Chirlane, because she has created an entirely different discussion in this town, and she has a powerful initiative. And now our mission is mental health for all. Whoever you are, you deserve it and we’ll give it to you. Anyone with a mental health issue, it’s just another human challenge. It’s just a part of human life. It’s not a question of character. It is not something to be judged. It is a human challenge that deserves support and respect. And, thanks to Chirlane, this city is now committed to mental health for all – for all.

[Applause]

So to wrap up, I want to say, everything I just said – if you liked any of these things or if you liked all of these things, it’s because of you. It’s because of you. It only happened because of you.

[Applause]

People demanded change and we created change. And each time they say it’s impossible. Don’t believe them. Don’t believe them, because there is always more hope around the corner. There is always the next step. There is always the next opportunity for change. I will move forward from this point in my service and continue to serve in other ways. The one thing I’m 100% dedicated to is continuing to support our families, to make things easier. We know that with Pre-K and 3-K, we have eased the burden on families. We know we could say, you were guaranteed something. You didn’t have to fight for it. You didn’t have to fight for it. You didn’t have to pay for it. He was there for you. And that’s what families need, right? You need guarantees in life. You need less stress. You need more opportunities for your children.

This is what I want to do for this city, for this state. I want to make sure that every child, in the future, if they have to stay in the school building until late afternoon, because parents don’t stop work at 2:30 p.m. or 3 p.m., parents must work the whole day. Every child should be able to stay in their school until 6 p.m. and benefit from more education, culture, leisure, and to be safe and supported for free. It should be a right.

[Applause]

And during the summer when so many parents are struggling to find a good option for their child – we did this this summer, we should do this citywide, statewide, this should become permanent – you You should know that your child can go to school in your neighborhood, they can be dropped off at eight in the morning, picked up at six in the evening and have a wonderful summer experience full of rich activities and school support. Keep learning, also, during the summer, get stronger. Joy and learning together should be a free right for every family. It should be something you can rely on.

[Applause]

So, brothers and sisters, this is what I will dedicate my life to. And I just want to say, I believe it can happen, because everything that we fought for together has happened. I believe that we can continue to go further and further. And I end with a deep sense of gratitude. There are so many good people here in this beautiful house. There are so many good people. There are so many good people in our beloved Brooklyn, so many good people in New York. It doesn’t matter if sometimes when we watch the news or read the newspaper or go online, we feel confused. We feel withdrawn. In fact, look around you. Look around you for all the good. Look around you for all the hope. That’s what drives me. This is what allows me to move forward. You prove to me how good people can be and the best is yet to come for all of us. Thank you and God bless you all.

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Barry F. Howard