Wednesday, September 15, 2021



 Mayor Bill de Blasio: Some people change the world profoundly, and Billie Jean King, someone who captured the hearts, the admiration, the respect of this nation, as both athletes and activists. 

And one thing, a lot of us who serve the public, we puzzle over time over how minds change, hearts change. There is no one in the world who understands how progress specifically happens. We've seen it, we've felt it, we'd been a part of it, we've been beneficiaries of it, but no one specifically understands the building blocks of progress, the exact formula, the magic, because if they did, so many more things to change so much more quickly. It's something we all puzzle on and work on and strive for and experiment with, but I know one of the reasons we're standing here to acknowledge this history, acknowledge this movement, acknowledge the changes, the profound changes that have happened is because certain people by their very example made possible this progress. So, I say it with admiration and with humility, Billie Jean King, you are one of those people who've made that possible, thank you.  


And while I'm thanking people, all my colleagues in elected office and public service, and Corey Johnson, I know this is a labor of love for you, thank you brother. This is something that I'm honored to be joining you in. 


Corey Johnson and I are retiring simultaneously. We're talking about a bar tour of the Caribbean, which we'll turn it into a book, maybe a movie. We're thinking of a variety of options. If there's any agents here, you can talk to us after. To everyone who will create this amazing new presence in our city, thank you to Louise Mirer and to Pam Schafler for all you do for the city.  


And to someone I have great affection for and will be so crucial to this project, I have affection for them because of all the good he has done in the world, and also as two people are tall today, this is the first one who is chairing this amazing initiative, Richard Burns. I've always enjoyed your height too. 


And a dear, dear friend that I have to acknowledge because he has often been the person who guided me to where I could do the most good for this community, and in so many other ways, I consider him a progressive champion and someone who’s voice when I hear it, I truly believe he is a voice of conscience of the most profound kind, my friend, Ethan Geto, thank you. 


He tries to tell me he's been around a long time, but I think he's one of the most young-at-heart people I know, so we don't believe in chronological age, Ethan. Yes. Now, everybody, I'll be very quick, look, we're New Yorkers and yes, there is something special about this place. There is, you know, exceptionalism is a tricky, tricky thing. We're proud New Yorkers. We know there are things about us that are unique in the world, but we're also here. Everyone gathered, Progressive's and people who believe in inclusion and respect for all. So, exceptionalism is a strange, strange path. However, when it comes to how the modern movement for LGBTQ+ rights developed, when it comes to where the leadership occurred, where history was made, where the spirit and fight grew, there is no debate. There are many places in the world where people fought struggles, unquestionably, and many, many people who did the right thing and suffered often for it, but there's no place where it crystallized like it did here. So, it is rightful that this museum will be here. The entire reconceptualization that we needed in this world began here, and the notion of a righteous rebellion acknowledgement that something unacceptable had become the norm in society, and it had to be turned over. That happened here. 


This museum will capture not only that revolutionary instinct and the people made it possible, it will capture everything before and after, it will capture the decades and decades of oppression. It will capture the fact that so many people suffered just for being who they were and for loving who loved, but it will also capture the profound changes that occurred in the scope of history very, very quickly. And this movement, and I, like many people here, strive for inspiration and understanding. And you look at the great movements, civil rights movement in ‘50’s, ‘60’s, and so many other examples, what worked, how and when, what can we learn from it? This movement achieved some of the most extraordinary successes in the least time, which is a credit to everyone here and everyone who will be honored in this museum, and in doing that opened up space for so many others, which is really what it's all about for all of us. When we're fighting for the rights of one, we're fighting for the rights of all, which is what this city is ultimately about, that sense that everyone matters and everyone is welcome, and that is the ultimate New York magic.  


So, everyone, I have been honored to support this work, the people's resources will go into this work. That is the right thing. And what will happen here will now be seen all over the world. People will come from literally every corner of the world to learn, to be educated, to be inspired, to remember that, yes, a change can come, and it did here in New York City. Thank you and God bless you all. 


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