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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Speaks at Reverend Al Sharpton's 60Th Birthday - "Party for a Cause"

October 1, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, good evening, everyone. This is –

[Cheers]

This is a site for a birthday fit for a king. And I have to tell you, to great credit of Reverend Sharpton, he merits such a grand location.

In these last years in this city, there's been a deep desire for change, a deep desire for justice, and for voices that will acknowledge what people are really going through, and to demand something better. And Reverend Sharpton has shown, throughout his career, he isn't overly concerned with the conventional wisdom. He believes if you speak truth, it will connect with people in their lives. He believes it will spur them to action. He's had many powerful moments, exemplary moments, moments that are memorable in our history. But I have to tell you the moment that moved me to my core. It was in June of 2012, when this was hurting, hurting deeply, because of a broken stop and frisk policy. Reverend Sharpton believed if people marched in the true tradition of Dr. King, to which he adheres, people would march silently down Fifth Avenue, that it would change the city to its core.

Silence, nonviolencethe devotionwould change us for the better. He led that march. His vision came true with every passing day thereafter. And we are, today, a more fair city, a more just city, a city on a pathway to resolving some of our fateful past, becoming united with a common vision, because Reverend Sharpton had the vision to help us see something that a lot of people couldn't see. He's done that time and time again. 

So, this celebration is a joyous moment. This is a man of heart and warmth and humor. But I wanted to take a moment, a little more solemn moment, to say Al Sharpton has been a blessing for this city. He's been a blessing for this nation.

[Applause]

And the more people criticize him, the more I want to hang out with him.

[Laughter]

Because a lot of times, just look who's doing the criticizing and the way they're saying it – it makes you realize the Rev must be doing something right.

Audience: Yes!

Mayor: You know, sometimes, your enemies are the best endorsers of the righteousness of your actions.

[Applause]

Mayor: Rev started very, very young –

Al Sharpton: I don’t usually interrupt the mayor but the queen is in the house. Aretha Franklin, come on up here.

[Applause]

Mayor: A queen is higher ranking than a mayor. Aretha, you have to come up here.

[Commotion]

Mayor: Rev, I’ll just finish by saying ­– because in the presence of royalty, it’s important to keep it brief – so [Laughs] I’ll finish by saying this. Rev started very, very early. He started very early. He was making an impact, even as a youth, even as a teenager, he was making an impact. Rev – 60 years old, seems like you’re just getting started, seems like you’re just warming up.

You’re reaching more and more people around this nation. They’re hearing a voice, a positive vision. You’re speaking truth to power. You’re helping us move forward and we all owe you not only a warm and loving Happy Birthday, but a profound thanks. God bless you.

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