Earlier in the day, Governor Kathy Hochul joined National Urban League leaders for a coronation celebration to mark the progress of the Urban Empowerment Center, the League’s future Harlem headquarters. The event took place on the fourth floor of the building, which will house the Urban Civil Rights Museum, New York’s first museum dedicated to civil rights.
SOUND of the event is available here.
PICTURES of the event will be available on the Governor’s Flickr page.
A quick transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:
Hello everyone. First, I take this out. I’m a little vertically challenged if you haven’t noticed. OK, let’s just accept that fact. Mark, this has to be the most exciting and innovative, one-of-a-kind project in the entire history of our country. And this is not hyperbole. That’s a fact. So thank you, and people like Tim Murphy, your board, and others who had this vision. I mean, people during a pandemic, what do you think? Well, they’re thinking about how to put Harlem on the map like never, never before because everyone in the world knows Harlem. I mean, it’s a very cool place. Let’s just say that. But, to be able to bring people here to this unique place where the critically important work of, you know, advancing our civil rights movement through the work of the National Urban League. That it is centered here is a great pride for us in Harlem. So we’re here to say, welcome home, welcome back.
But also to Meredith Marshall, co-founder and managing partner of BRP Companies. It is also an extraordinary project. I think you’re going to get a lot more business after people see what you’ve done here, so it’s good for you and all the men and women building this. Again, it started during the heat of a pandemic. I mean, we already have 17 floors. It didn’t happen overnight. This tough, hard working men and women showed up during a pandemic. It is also an extraordinary story to tell. So I thank them.
I also thank Jennifer Scott, Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Museum. I’m going to have my own opinion on what should go in the museum, just in case you want to know. I want to make sure that when we’re talking about the northern states, we’re also talking about upstate New York, okay, because I’m from western New York and we pride ourselves on being where the NAACP, the Niagara Movement was founded. And it was a place where people came and helped freed slaves cross the Niagara River into Canada for a long time. And so, I’m going to make sure you take care of my hometown of Buffalo and show up here. Alright, if that’s okay with you. Let’s do this.
Harriet Tubman spent 50 years of her life working to free slaves. She lived in Auburn, New York. Frederick Douglass, you know, buried not far from Susan B.
Anthony, same cemetery, they died two years apart. So all of these stories, I look forward to bringing them here as we connect our state and brag, not only about the history of Harlem and the leaders who took us to another place in our country, but also from all over the state. So he’s not going to put this plug here.
You know, I love projects that incorporate affordable housing because that is and will continue to be a challenge unless we find creative ways to integrate new housing projects and supportive housing, over 50, supervised accommodation. And what is supportive housing? It just houses people who have been knocked down. They need an extra helping hand. They need someone who cares about them. And whether they have a substance abuse problem or mental health issues, or sometimes it’s our veterans, sometimes it’s LGBTQ seniors, there are populations that benefit when we spend our money wisely and lift them up , literally through where they live. And also retail shopping, I come back. I will be back. Great place to have all the shopping possibilities here. You know, when you bring businesses that you see all over America and all these suburbs, you bring them to a neighborhood like this, that said, you matter too. You know, your people deserve – your residents deserve the same shopping opportunities as Westchester. So why not put it all together because it also elevates the psychology of a community. That’s what you do with a project like this.
You say it’s the headquarters, the largest civil rights organization, an organization that lifts people out of poverty, meets the challenges of city life every day. You’re here, all the talent around it, the smart people who solve problems come here, but then you say, but people want to live here. People want to shop here, and let’s have a place where people can learn, not just about past civil rights activism, but a place where people say, I want to be them. It’s going to inspire the next generation of civil rights activists when people come here and see this museum. Thus, it will cement this area as a hub of business and culture. Really proud that we came here with $110 million in state resources. I feel like I’m going to be asked more, but that’s what everyone does. Am I right? I know I know. I know how it goes.
But it’s a party. It’s all talk here. Thank you, staff, for writing a great speech. But it’s about the people, the people in this room, the actors, the believers, the visionaries who come together at this stage and say, “We’re halfway there. And I can’t wait to come back because I have a lot of experience cutting ribbons. I want to come back and cut that ribbon. I will come back and celebrate. So thank you and congratulations to everyone who has gotten us here today.