He has long been a regular at the National Action Network, but this was Eric Adams’ first time as mayor of New York City.
“You did not fight this hard for me to get here and not see things change,” he said to those in attendance.
Adams sent a message of optimism for a city already in its second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also dismissed those who’ve criticized early decisions of his, like hiring his own brother as head of his personal security.
“Let's build the New York that we know we can build, and all those criticisms, we're not listening to any noise, we are moving straight ahead,” Adams added.
But the main theme of this Martin Luther King Day was voting rights and Democratic legislation to make voting easier, a bill that seems to be dead in the U.S. Senate.
“Call the vote, call the vote!” Reverend Al Sharpton chanted.
With a slim majority in the Senate, Democrats can’t get the 60 votes needed to go around the filibuster and put the bill to a vote.
They can’t agree on eliminating the filibuster rule either.
Many Republican-controlled states have passed a number of voting restricting measures after losing the presidential election to Joe Biden in 2020.
“And who are they aiming at? The same people they aimed at in the past: Black and brown people, poor people, urban people, people of color, young people," Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said.
“Evil forces are trying to stop Black and brown people from exercising a right that Dr. King fought for as well, and we won’t let that happen,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said.
Also in attendance, Hochul’s rival in this year’s primary for governor, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and former Mayor Bill de Blasio, who’s expected to run for that position as well.
But the biggest ovation went to City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams.
The first Black woman to serve in that role impressed the audience with her singing skills, giving a soulful rendition of "I Want Jesus to Walk with Me."