The mayor marked Martin Luther King Jr. Day by talking about economic equality.
Mayor Bill de Blasio told a packed audience on Monday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music that the “price of inequality has deepened.”
Economic inequality “is closing doors for hardworking people in this city and all over this country,” said de Blasio, a Democrat. “We have a city sadly divided between those with opportunity, with the means to fully partake of that opportunity, and those whose dreams of a better life are being deferred again and again.”
Citing King, de Blasio said, “We can’t wait.”
The mayor ran on a platform to battle the city’s income inequality, which he dubbed “the tale of two cities.”
He was joined by his wife, Chirlane McCray; the state’s senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand; and the newly elected Brooklyn borough president, Eric Adams.
The event was dedicated to the late Nelson Mandela. The keynote speaker at the event was professor, political activist and former radical Angela Davis.
Afterward, the mayor and his wife joined a small assembly line of mostly volunteers preparing meals for the hungry at the Community Kitchen and Food Pantry in West Harlem run by New York’s Food Bank, one of the nation’s largest hunger relief organizations.
“You’re making a big impact in people’s lives,” he told a group of Girl Scouts from Troop 2260 in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The couple stood side by side next to the children and a handful of adult volunteers stuffing complete meals from boxes into brown paper bags that will be distributed to people in need. The food included sandwiches, juice, chips, cookies and a few other items.
De Blasio said King’s teachings are meant to be lived.
“This is the day when we think about the meaning of Dr. King and what I think is so important, never to see his teachings as something in the past or something that’s just a part of history in a museum — but to live them,” the mayor said.
As the 6-foot-4 mayor, wearing food-handling gloves, filled the brown paper bags, he leaned down to reach the girls, engaging them in lighthearted banter.
“Got to get my chip thing going!” he announced with a grin as he and the kids coordinated their efforts.
“Make sure you always hold (the bag) underneath,” he coached them, followed by praise: “We’re a well-oiled machine now.”