Archives of Rudolph W. Giuliani
Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Ceremony
Tweed Gallery
Tuesday, January 14, 1997, 6:30 p.m.

Thank you, Commissioner Safir.

Reverend Williams, Deputy Mayor Washington,Dr. Jackson [Edison, President Medgar Evers College,] distinguished guests, friends and fellow NewYorkers.

I'm very pleased to be here today to reflect on the life and leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King was more than a civil rights leader, more than a nobel prize winner...
He was a visionary whose courage and determination to balance the scales of injustice changed the world forever.
From the Montgomery Bus Boycott to his final hours in Memphis, Dr. King stood tall.
His message of hope, peace and love sent a message to all people, for all time.
Dr. King was aware of the dangers he faced.
But he knew his was a destiny like that of Moses... To lead others to the promised land, knowing that he very well may have never reached that promised land himself.
Perhaps better than anyone of our time, Dr. King knew how difficult it is to change the world. But most of all, he knew that violent change does not result in permanent change.
He knew that what is achieved by violence does not endure. And those who have and will follow in Dr. King's footsteps -- those who build bridges of friendship and cooperation to other communities -- will be remembered and honored by future generations.
Dr. King didn't expect miracles. But he did expect progress. He did expect each of us to do our part to make the world a better place.

One of the most important things we can do is to pass along to our children the meaning of Dr. King's life. Dr. King didn't just hope things got better, he worked to make them better and he began by doing well in school.

Dr. King enrolled in college at age 15. By the time he graduated he was already an ordained minister. And because he had prepared himself well, Dr. King was ready to rise to the occassion in Montgomery.

It's time for New York City to concentrate on bringing people together on common goals and common aspirations.
In every community there is a large majority of decent people who share a commitment to the principles that Dr. King believed in, the principles that unite us as a society.
I believe the fair-minded residents of our communities will realize that they should be working together. Our relationship to one another as brother and sister goes deeper than our racial, ethnic, or religious identity.
The most important thing is our common humanity, our identity as human beings and New Yorkers.
By working together we can change the world the way Dr. King had envisioned, by building bridges to other communities.

And we can change it the way Howard Bennett made a difference. Howard Bennett was a community leader from Harlem who spent the last 13 years of his life working to have Dr. King's birthday declared a national holiday.

It was a long struggle, but like the great New Yorker he was, Howard never gave up. And his dream became a reality.

So on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we say "thank you" to Howard Bennett for helping to bring us a national holiday in Dr. King's honor.

And as we pay tribute to the memory and message of Dr. King, let's resolve to define ourselves by our commitment to tolerance, peace and cooperation.

Thank you.

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