May 29, 2015
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you so much, everybody. First of all, weren’t those young performers outstanding?
A lot to be proud of tonight. I want to thank Nisha Agarwal for introducing me, but more importantly, I want to thank her for all she has done for this city, with the extraordinary effort, among other things, to create our municipal identification program – our IDNYC – which has made a huge difference already for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. Let’s thank Nisha Agarwal for all she does.
And there are a lot of people to thank and acknowledge tonight. We are all here, proud of an extraordinary history of accomplishment and achievement here in this city by so many New Yorkers – so many Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans who have had a huge impact on this city, who have thrived in this city, who make us a stronger city today.
I want to acknowledge and thank – there are so many consul generals and ambassadors from so many of the nations represented in the communities of our city who are here tonight – I want to thank them and the many international dignitaries who have joined us.
I want to thank especially – and I’ll mention them again in a moment – but our most special guests this evening are the family of Detective Wenjian Liu, who gave so much to this city – and I’ll speak about them in a moment – but we thank them so deeply for their attendance this evening.
I want to thank the members of my administration who make such an impact in the lives of this city. I mentioned Nisha Agarwal – I also want to thank Chief Chan, the NYPD Chief for Transportation. I want to thank Bill Chong, our commissioner for DYCD; Michael Shaikh, our deputy commissioner for the Mayor’s Office of International Affairs; and Marco Carrion, our commissioner for community affairs; Pauline Toole, our commissioner for Records and Information Services; Ram Raju, the president of the Health and Hospitals Corporation; Maria Torres-Springer, the commissioner for Small Business Services; and Rachel Lauter, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Appointments – we thank them all.
We also had the great honor of being joined, just a few moments ago, by United States Congressman Charlie Rangel who is here, and wanted to be a part of this event, but had to go back to his district – we thank him.
I also want to thank – I mentioned the tremendous dance troupe from P.S. 105, led by the teacher, Christina Lo – let’s thank them and thank her for all she’s done.
I want to thank Tae Seog Yun and Shi Hwan Byun for playing the traditional Korean flutes. We thank them for their performance.
And some of our sponsors – the sponsors make these wonderful events possible – so please join me in thanking John Park, the president of the Korean Community Empowerment Council. Let’s thank the TMI Food Group, who brought food for us. Let’s thank Christina Seid from the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. And –
And maybe the most popular of the sponsors because he brought wine – Henry Cheng of Classic Ameriwine. Let’s thank them all.
Now, I’ll just speak briefly, but I want to put this in perspective – in 1950 – in 1950, not long ago, the population of Asian American and Pacific Islander New Yorkers was less than 25,000 – less than 25,000 across all five boroughs.
Today, that population has grown over 1 million strong, and having a huge and positive impact in this community. Our community of Asian Americans is larger than the Asian communities of San Francisco and Los Angeles combined – and we’re very proud of that.
Obviously, the Asian American community is one of our fastest-growing communities. And we know that this community has been a symbol of what’s possible here in this city and in this country, a symbol of the power of inclusion and economic opportunity and what it does for so many people. And we are going to continue to strengthen that ability to give opportunity to so many New Yorkers.
Now, I mentioned a moment ago – we are honored to have the family of Detective Wenjian Liu with us. And I have to say, this family has given so much to this city, and they have been such positive examples amidst their pain, such examples of honor. I want to thank Wei Tang Liu and Xiu Yan Li for their extraordinary strength amidst tragedy, for their – the way that they have shown dignity amidst pain. All New Yorkers look up to you – and look up, of course, to the family of Detective Ramos as well.
You know, Wenjian Liu came to this country 20 years ago – and this is a classic story and a story that is true – searching for an American dream – a dream that happens here in New York City, thank God, every day. His parents worked such long hours to give him opportunity. They worked in the garment industry.
He had opportunity to do what they had never done before – to get an education. He learned English. He was going to be an accountant, but then 9/11 happened, and Wenjian Liu decided he owed something to this city, to this country. He wanted to serve on a higher level. And that devotion made him one of the best among us, and we owe a lot to him – may he rest in peace – to his family for the example. Let’s thank the Liu family for all they have done for all of us.
And we honor them, and we honor so many others who have sacrificed by continuing to make this a city of inclusion, a city where everyone can follow their dream as Wenjian did – the city that gives people a chance. That’s why we believe in an ID card that says, “Whoever you are, whether you happen to be documented or not, you are our neighbor, you are our fellow New Yorker, and we believe in you!”
And we’ve done so many other things to try and uplift people and give them opportunity. Our living wage executive order, our paid sick bill, our universal pre-k program, our after-school program – so many things that give opportunities to families – and we will continue.
This is a moment to reflect on what so many people have achieved, to celebrate it, and then use it to inspire us forward.
Now, speaking of inspiration, I want to introduce to you tonight two extraordinary individuals representing two groups that have done so much in the face of an extraordinary challenge that just happened – an earthquake, which turned their home nation upside-down and caused such torment, such hardship. And yet, in the classic tradition of New Yorkers – the strength, the resiliency, the compassion – these individuals and the groups they represent stood up and helped the victims of the devastating earthquake in Nepal. And it showed the spirit of New Yorkers to come forward and help people thousands and thousands of miles away as if they lived just next door to us. That’s what we saw happen in these last weeks.
First, I want to call forward – representing the New York Nepalese Football Club, I want to call forward Pralay Rajbhandari – I hope I said it okay.
The day after the earthquake, the members of the football club went door to door immediately. And in the first day, they collected nearly $23,000 dollars to help people in Nepal. Let’s thank them for that.
I want to offer this proclamation – Pralay, I want to thank you so much and offer you this proclamation and give you a chance to speak about this extraordinary achievement.
Mayor: The other organization that did so much at this moment of crisis – acted so quickly and with such compassion – Adhikaar, which means ‘rights’ in Nepali – a nonprofit serving the Nepali community, protecting the rights of immigrant workers. And this organization, in the days since the earthquake, has raised over $60,000 dollars to support the victims of the earthquakes.
And that is just part of the work they do to protect Nepali immigrants, including the undocumented, and to make sure they are not deported, especially in this moment of crisis in Nepal. To say a few words on behalf of Adhikaar, co-founder and executive director Luna Ranjit.
Mayor: Thank you so much, Luna. And we do know people at the Department of Homeland Security, so we will give a call – won’t we, Nisha? Nisha Agarwal will make sure we do that, because we want to protect our Nepali brothers and sisters in this time of crisis.
Thank you, everyone. This is a beautiful celebration of all you are doing, and the communities you represent are doing, to make New York City better, stronger, more diverse a place for everyone. I want to thank you for epitomizing that spirit tonight. And have a wonderful evening, everyone.