Governor Hochul: “Someone who had a powerful influence in my life as a child, and my parents spoke about him often, and that is Dr. King, and we celebrate his life throughout the year. But this particular weekend, we reflect on what he taught us and how he showed us a better way. The lessons that he bestowed on us as we honor his legacy, reaffirming, all of us, despite what we have to deal with, we have an obligation to talk about love and compassion, peace, and justice and equality, and not just let them be hollow words, but to live them every single day.”
On Sunday January 17, Governor Kathy Hochul delivered virtual remarks at the New Hope Christian Fellowship.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks are available below:
Thank you, Bishop Findlayter for the introduction and good morning, Church. And yes, this is the day the Lord has made, and that is why we celebrate together. And we are not together in person, but I so look forward to returning once again to greet you in person. I miss giving everybody hugs. I’m a hugger, so the time will come and now we’ve, we’re just working so hard to make sure that we are all safe, but you’ve done an extraordinary job. And Bishop Findlayter, I want to talk about the fact that just a week ago, I gave a State of the State address that was a bold vision for New York, big plans about lasting change, but I know real change happens in communities and in churches like yours. And that is why I want to honor you as well, to thank you for everything you’ve done, not just for New Hope Christian Fellowship, but the entire Brooklyn community and helping make things happen.
As you mentioned, convening us together to talk about the real challenges and one of them was people are not getting the jobs that could help lift them out of their circumstances, give them the dignity of being able to take care of their families, and you help make that happen because of our relationship. And so I’m so honored to share the pulpit, even briefly remotely here today, but just to thank you for your undying commitment to not just the values of Christ and His teachings, but always spread that out among all of us in the communities. And scripture tells us in Matthew, whoever wants to be a leader among you must first be your servant. And you have demonstrated that, Bishop Findlayter, that is what I try to do every single day. And our job is to carry out God’s work and help others. And you do incredible things. Organizing youth programs, and educational programs, giving them a chance to know there’s a better life waiting for them out there.
And to help the grieving families who’ve lost a loved one, especially to gun violence, which is. So common and so devastating to see, we’ve lost our children through something that we just cannot quite understand, but I’m working hard with our new Mayor to make sure that we have all the resources to help protect our families and our children. And also the work of God Squad, you know, helping deter crime from young people, and again, giving them a better alternative and promoting opportunities for people, better immigration policies. So you and your church, and all of us, have worked together to be at the forefront of these issues and that’s, what’s so humbling about working alongside of you.
And we are remote because of this pandemic. We are all tired of it. We’re ready to say we’re done. And I have been very happy to report the last few days that our numbers are declining rapidly. The numbers are going down. Hospitalizations are going down. But Brooklyn was at the epicenter of all this almost two years ago. And it’s seared in our hearts, the people we’ve lost and the struggles and the devastation that continues to this day. But we’re going to continue fighting back. People getting vaccinated, getting the booster shots. Getting kids vaccinated so they don’t have to be home from schools, my gosh, it’s been so hard on our kids, to be disconnected from their normal lives, and they need to be with their teachers and their friends, and just to feel normal again and all that is coming, and I’m so excited to be able to announce very shortly in the next couple of weeks, we hope, that we are going to start getting back to a better sense of normal.
So I want to thank you, make sure everybody who feels sick, stay home. You can get tested. We’re continuing to open more testing sites, even at SUNY Downstate Medical and Brooklyn is going to be open very shortly. But one thing I want to all of you to know if you’re not covered by health insurance, because of the pandemic, we opened up our marketplace so more people can enroll for it. We do have 95% of new Yorkers covered by insurance right now, which is great, but I worry about the 5%. So if you know anyone who does not have insurance coverage, make sure they know, we especially opened up our enrollment for the New York State Health Insurance Program. So please help us get that word out through the church and through the community.
So we need this entire congregation to be there with us. We keep each other safe, we protect each other, and that has always been my commitment to help others. And just very briefly, I know you want to hear more directly from the Bishop, but I did grow up in a very Social Justice-oriented Catholic family, and I was taught, and it was part of my family values that we serve Christ through serving others. And I didn’t just go to church on Sundays with my parents and move on with the rest of my life. Like all of you, it’s what you do the other six days. And my parents would take us to the poorest neighborhoods around us and we’d meet with families and help them, and senior citizens who felt so isolated, just to sit with them and give them the love that they so missed. And I was hard-wired as a child to know that we have to continue Christ’s teachings.
But not just what Christ taught us, but also someone who had a powerful influence in my life as a child, and my parents spoke about him often, and that is Dr. King, and we celebrate his life throughout the year. But this particular weekend, we reflect on what he taught us and how he showed us a better way. The lessons that he bestowed on us as we honor his legacy, reaffirming, all of us, despite what we have to deal with, we have an obligation to talk about love and compassion, peace, and justice and equality, and not just let them be hollow words, but to live them every single day. So Dr. King has been a guiding influence in my life, since I first read about him as a child while he was still alive. And I think about what this one person who overcame so much, and he never gave up, and he took us to the mountaintop. He showed us the mountaintop and taught us how to reach it through acts of love and compassion. So we continue to honor his legacy through our work.
I continue to be inspired and we have to make sure that the next generations who follow, I understand why we honor him this weekend and throughout the year. And I take inspiration, say what we’re dealing with right now. Coming through this pandemic, people are still concerned, a lot of jobs have not come back. There’s an anxiety, people are fearful about crime in the streets, something that seems to have gotten out of control. But that can no longer be a moment of despair. We have to rise up, and let this be a moment of great possibilities. Scripture says the bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with smoother stones. And the Sycamores may have been cut down, but we replaced them with Cedars, and that’s what Elijah taught us, and how we need to be always forward-looking. We will come back stronger and we will come back better and we’ll continue to work together to lift up all God’s children. So I also want to close by saying, we have to think about those families that right now, literally one week ago, woke up on an ordinary day in the Bronx, thinking life was just going to be as they’d always known it.
And as I went there and sat with families who were in a shelter in a neighboring school after the fire struck their apartments, and held their hands and hugged them, and mourning mothers who lost their children, it was one of the most painful experiences of my life. And at that moment, we called upon God to heal these people. And that is what we’re going to continue to do today is pray for them, as they are right now having a funeral service to honor the lives of the 15 we lost. So, so please join all of us in that prayer, and God will help them heal and go forth. So I thank you for your friendship, Bishop Findlayter, all the members of the congregation, and know that we’re going to continue to fight for the values we all believe in: affordable, safe housing, social justice, protecting public safety, affordable healthcare, and equality, those issues join us through the church, through our work in government, and we join us together. And I thank all of you and I want to wish you a happy celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King this weekend.
Thank you, Bishop. I look forward to seeing you soon, everyone.
Cover Image: Syracuse University