Eric Adams: New York Is Too Divided, Needs The Strength Of Our Diversity

former NYPD captain Eric Adams made history becoming New York City's second Black mayor
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On Tuesday, former NYPD captain Eric Adams made history becoming New York City's second Black mayor registering a resounding defeat upon Republican Curtis Sliwa. The following is a transcript of Adams victory speech:

The team told me to come through the back, come around the stage, come directly in, and they said this is the way we want you to move. And I said to them, “I’m the mayor.”

And if they only knew the level of energy I get when I walk in your crowd. There’s days on this journey when I was just so depleted. And tired and just weary. And historically, I was able to just go out to Queens to sit down with Mommy and she would re-energize me then when Mommy transitioned in April, I would move among you somewhere at a train station, at the grocery store, walking inside the laundromat or just going to some of the barbershops late at night in Brownsville and Bed-Stuy and go inside when they finish cutting heads and we’d just sit there and just talk.

You don’t know how much you fuel me. You just fuel me every day, and let me tell you uniqueness about the fuel — it’s a Shakespearean tragedy that many of you don’t know. It doesn’t matter if you are in Borough Park in the Hasidic community, if you’re in Flatbush in the Korean community, if you’re in Sunset Park in the Chinese community, if you’re in Rockaway, if you’re out in Queens, in the Dominican community, Washington Heights — all of you have the power to fuel us.

We are so divided right now, and we’re missing the beauty of our diversity. We have to end all of this division of who we are, where we go to worship, what do we wear — no! Today we take off the intramural jersey and we put on one jersey, team New York.

So New York City, brothers and sisters, and I just need to pause for a moment because it’s so important for me to do this. Five people I must acknowledge and I will acknowledge all of you within time, but there are five people I must acknowledge.

First is my sister Ingrid Martin. Where is Ingrid? If I can quote one of the most philosophical geniuses of our time, Drake: “Started from the bottom, now we’re here.” Her husband and I were rookie cops together in the police academy. When her son was born, her husband gave me a picture of him laying on his chest. I put that picture inside my police hat and every time I went on patrol I looked at him. He’s now a grown man, he’s adult now. But it reminded me what we were doing every day that we were on patrol. And she never, never left my side, never left my side, no matter how challenging it was, she fought. She built a foxhole. When she ran out of bullets, she picked up rocks. When she ran out of rocks, she picked up dirt. When she ran out of dirt, she just dug a tunnel. But she never left my side and I’ll never forget what she has done for me throughout this entire journey. Amazing, amazing woman

Second is my man Nate. Nathan. I trusted him with my whole campaign, and I said, “Listen, you work it out and no one is going to get in your way. But one things for sure: you’d best not screw it up. Stayed up nights two, three, four in the morning calling him talking to him. Just calling from time to time and just saying I just wanted to know how you are doing. And just spending time bonding together because when you are in a battle there is someone you have to trust and expose yourself to and know that they are not going to take it and sharpen it and turn it to a knife and hold it at your throat, but they are going to be there throughout this entire journey. That’s who he was and I appreciate you for that.

And the man that captured my voice, my brother Evan Thies. Where is Evan? Communications director, all of you know who he is, you know how dedicated and committed he has been, and he just played a major role in putting together our communication.

And lastly, came to Borough Hall, there was a woman there speaking broken English, came from Peru, just wanted to eke out a living for her family. She came into my office one day and she said that, you know I’m not supposed to do this but I just wanted to give you some advice. And she gave me that advice and she became the center of Borough Hall. She took over my entire life and made sure that we were able to be a functioning office and it’s so significant because sometimes we have the tendency to believe that because someone has not mastered our dialogue and our phonetics that there is a level of ignorance and it is not, it is just the ability to give them the opportunity and they will rise to the occasion all the time. Mastering the sound of English does not make you the greatest leader or the greatest person and so Gladys I thank you so much, Gladys.

Here we are New York, here we are. I know many of you I want to acknowledge but I just wanted to point out that group that I pointed out just now. So, brothers and sisters and the people of our city, they have spoken. And tonight New York has chosen one of you, one of our own. I am you. I am you. After years of praying and hoping and struggling and working we are headed to City Hall.

For a young man from South Jamaica Queens who grew up with all of the challenges that every New Yorker faces, tonight is not just a victory over adversity, it is a vindication of faith. It is a proof that people of this city will love you if you love them. It is the proof that the forgotten can be the future. It is the proof that this city can live up to its promise.

The campaign was never, never never about me; this campaign was about the city and the people in it, from every corner and every background in this city. Those who have been left behind and believed they would never catch up. This campaign was for the undeserved, the marginalized, the abandoned. This campaign was for those who have been betrayed by their government. There is a covenant between government and the people of our city. You pay your taxes we deliver your tax dollars through goods and services and we have failed to provide those goods and services. Jan. 1 that stops.

And the campaign was not just for them, it was by them. I am so proud of what we have accomplished and I can never repay the hard work and dedication of so many who worked tirelessly to get us here this is your victory and I will carry your cause to City Hall. This campaign was for the person cleaning bathrooms and the dishwasher in the kitchen who feels they are already at the end of their journey. It was for those who feel they were there but forgotten and they are also those who make the city operate every day. They may right now be at Rikers Island sitting in a cell or in a precinct sitting in the holding cells. I am speaking to them tonight.

My mother cleaned houses. I washed dishes. I was beaten by police and sat in their precinct holding cell certain that my future was already decided and now I will be the person in charge of that precinct and every other precinct in the City of New York because I’m going to be the mayor of the City of New York.

There may be a young person out there right now that believes that they are not smart enough to go to college and to succeed. I did too. But I overcame a learning disability and went to college and was able to obtain my degrees. And now I will be the mayor in charge of the entire Department of Education.

And you may be homeless. You may be living from one shelter to the next, and you may say to yourself that this is my destiny. But I want them to hear the story of my siblings up here carrying garbage bags full of clothing to school every day because we thought we would come home and the marshals were going to throw us out. We know their story, we know their journey. I want them to get the energy from what we are doing today to know the possibilities are there. Where are you are is not who you are, we’re going to make sure of that. And that’s why I ran for mayor. Because I wanted to turn pain into purpose. This city betrayed New Yorkers every day, especially the ones who rely on it the most.

My fellow New Yorkers, that betrayal stops on Jan. 1. We are going to make a difference. My story is your story and I did not just want New Yorkers to hear my story, I wanted them to feel my story. I wanted them to know I am you. The life I lived is the life many are living right now. We are the same. This is not about Eric Adams becoming mayor. This is about carving out a pathway so people can enjoy the prosperity that the city has the offer. And so, you’re going to find some blemishes, because I’m perfectly imperfect and the city is made up of perfectly imperfect people. That’s the combination that is going to allow us to create a perfect city where we leave no one behind. That’s the city we are fighting for.

So this is not my moment. This is the moment for the people who have hit the bend in the road. A bend in the road is not the end of the road as long as you make a turn. Tonight we are going to make the turn and take our city in a new direction.

And I also believe all of us together can accomplish this task. For the past two years have been hard. Even New Yorkers, the most resilient people in the world, we’ve had moments. We have had moments of doubt I’m clear on that. We took a hit, we watched as Midtown turned into ghost town and our parking lots became morgues. Trailers filled with bodies of our loved ones and family members. We saw the most vibrant city on earth reduced to silence. Worst of all the inequalities we already face were deepened and widened then violence erupted, knocking us even further backwards.

And as we staying here tonight there are hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers without a job then there were pre-Covid. But when I think about those setbacks also think about how far we’ve come.

I think about those who gave everything to get us here. It gives me hope and I want you to have hope. I want you to believe again. Believe again. Let’s walk differently. Let’s hold our heads up. Let’s have a step in our pace because we are New Yorkers. We must believe in who we are. So I think about Percy Sutton. I think about Shirley Chisholm and David Dinkins and Dennis de Leon. I think about Larry Kramer. Those were revolutionaries who won wars without firing one shot. I think about my fellow officers and firefighters every day, New Yorkers who lost their lives saving others from the Twin Towers. And let me be clear on this: I am not creating a division between my firefighters, my police officers, my E.M.T.’s, my teachers and other civil servants. We are in this together. We will find a way to get through this together. No division, no division.

I think about the nurses and hospital workers who went to their job every day during the height of Covid, rising above the fear and uncertainty. And the reason I know so well what they were doing because when others fled, I led. I went to those hospitals. I visited them. I delivered PPEs and food. I was with my TA employees I was on the ground with them letting them know that I’m not elected to be served, I’m elected to serve and I’m going to serve the people of the city.

And I think of Mommy, a domestic worker. And my siblings are here it was six of us. And I say it all the time as much as I can: She loved them all but she adored me. She was an amazing woman. Single parents all over the city who struggle day in and day out for lifetimes with only one goal: to create opportunities for their children that they never had. And that’s what Mommy did for all of us. She watched us continue to develop into responsible adults. And she had to do it on her own because the city was not there for her. And I will never forget that my glory is not my story.

I only had a badge as a cop because my mom used a rag and a mop to create a better future for me. I think about those heroes of New York and I am inspired. I am lifted up on the wings of their spirit. And I am reminded that we owe them a great debt of gratitude that can only be repaid with our belief in each other in our city. We will betray those who were on the front line for us if you don’t believe in the greatness of the city. They sacrifice themselves because they believed in that and now is an opportunity to once again believe in who we are. We believe in strength.

We are facing a three headed crisis. We are fighting Covid, crime and economic devastation all at once. So we’re going to invest in each other. We are going to lift up those who are struggling with child care, health care and affordable housing. We are going to launch an unprecedented job program to link out-of-work New Yorkers not just with jobs but with skills and training. And we’re going to talk — and this is very important — we are going to talk to the C.E.O.s of our city’s biggest corporations and ask them to offer paid internships to students from underserved communities. Listen folks. We have to get this out of our head: that our C.E.O.s in this city don’t want to participate in the uplifting of our inner city.

The problem is we haven’t gone there and asked them to do so. So it’s time to build bridges that we have destroyed in the past. We need each other. That’s what we need in the city. For to turn our economy around by reaching our hand out to the business world to grow the companies we have here, while attracting new emerging industries like sciences and cybersecurity and with a blue color green jobs initiative that boosts our economy while making our city more resilient. Every job we create in corporate America must be a pathway and pipeline to the inner city. We have some talent in NYCHA. Just get out of the way and give them the opportunity to fill these jobs in the city. And we’re going to do this particularly for the women who are in this room: we want universal child care. Universal childcare. We all know what happens when mothers stay home to raise children their careers stymied. They don’t get promoted they don’t get the opportunities are childcare, universal childcare is not going to be day care or just sitting in a room somewhere watching TV. We’re going to build into our educational opportunities to develop these young minds before they get to pre-K and three-k. We’re going to do it early and then we’re going to give mothers doulas so they can learn about nutrition and what they need to do when their baby is born. If we don’t get this right don’t let anybody kid you, if you don’t educate you will incarcerate and we don’t want to incarcerate our young people.

And we’re going to get the safety we need and the justice we deserve. They go together. By driving down gun violence and crime from our streets while we drive down our biases and bad behavior from those who are tarnishing the shield. And how dare people ask me do a sit down and talk to gang members who are trying to get their life right. You darn right I am. You darn right. You do analysis of those gang members and you know what you’re going to find? You’re going to find learning disabilities dyslexia. You’re going to find all of those mental health issues, the problems we ignored and betrayed those young people for produced what you are looking at. You’ll seeing the hate that New York has created and it’s time to stop that hate.

But let’s be clear, let’s be clear here as I talk to my gang members Jan. 1 the conversation stops. You won’t shoot up my city. You want stab young people in schools. You won’t sell drugs and guns on my streets. I am extending an opportunity to get out of gangs and get in a job to get into schools, to get gainfully employed. We are not going to just talk about safety. We are going to have safety in our city. If we do these things then New Yorkers will be able to fulfill their dreams. And that should be the goal of government not to preach but to provide. To allow people to reach their full potential. Sometimes folks we are going to succeed. Sometimes we’re going to try and we’re going to fail. But damn it, we’re not going to fail at trying. That’s some thing we’re not going to lose at.

So let me be clear as I stand here before you with a heart felt filled with hope and love for the city. Looking out over this horizon and seeing you gives me hope this is our moment. This is our opportunity this is our moment as a city. And I tell you something. In four years this city is never going to be the same, never going to be the same. Once we move forward we will never go back. We will never go backwards we will never go backwards. We will never go backwards. Because America is the only country, we are the only country on the globe where dream is attached to our name. There’s no German dream. There’s no Polish dream. There’s no French dream. But damn it there is an American dream. You don’t leave a nightmare to come live in a nightmare. We have to allow those 10 million dreams to come alive and to benefit from what this country has to offer.

In Jan. 1, that’s the promise. That is what we will accomplish. So tonight I have accomplished my dream. And with all my heart I’m going to remove the barriers that are preventing you from accomplishing yours. And if I’m allowed to say, in the words of one of the most famous Brooklynites, the owner of Snapple soft drink, we are going to win because we are made of the best stuff on earth. We are New Yorkers.

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