2004 Summer/Fall Edition
early June, I was privileged to attend a breakfast hosted by Mayor
Bloomberg at Gracie Mansion for his guest, Archbishop Desmond
Tutu. Bishop Tutu was in New York City to participate in the dedication
ceremony for the International Freedom Center. The Center will
be located at the World Trade Center site, and also serve as a
museum to humankind's enduring quest for freedom and equality.
I am sure that most of you are aware of the role this Noble Laureate
played in freeing South Africa from apartheid. Everyone in attendance
was struck by the Bishop's commanding presence and his warmth,
which permeated the room.
break bread with Bishop Tutu was both humbling and inspiring. He
is but an ordinary man who acted in an extraordinary manner, and
helped to bring South Africa out of conflict and crisis. I am grateful
to the Mayor for the invitation, and to the Committee Members of
the International Freedom Center for securing the Bishop's presence
at the ceremony.
As Human Rights Commissioner, I am honored to continue the struggle
against discrimination in whatever form it may take. At the Commission,
we deal with the forms of discrimination that affect people in their
daily struggles to access public services, navigate a step, work
to put food on their table, or to be simply recognized by their
individual gender identity. Discrimination is emotionally painful
and a violation of basic human rights.
Bishop Tutu once said, "A person is a person because he recognizes
others as persons." Similar words were spoken by another inspiring
person over 2,000 years ago: "Love thy neighbor as thyself."
When Fiorello LaGuardia created the Mayor's Committee on Unity in
1944, the predecessor to the New York City Commission on Human Rights,
he envisioned a City "where people of all races and religions
work and live side by side in harmony and have mutual respect for
each other and where democracy is a living reality." I am extremely
thankful to live in a City that has a strong Human Rights Law, and
a long-standing history of tolerance.
Archbishop Tutu and Commissioner Gatling.