And so my reflections of Dr. King, and this is going to tell you how old I really am, I wrote a book report about his life as a child growing up in a very strong, social justice Catholic family. But we spent a lot of time going to Dr. King's marches that were spreading all across places, even like Buffalo, New York, while he was still alive. And the night that we got word that he had been gunned down, my family gathered and we held hands and we prayed for what was happening to our country.
And that was just a precursor of a very dark time in our history. Months later, we lost Bobby Kennedy. Then we had riots in the streets. We had a lot of injustice and we had a Vietnam war going on. This is all going on as my childhood, was opening up my eyes to what the injustices in this world. And I remember the words of Dr. King that every single day you must wake up and say, what am I doing for others. And that's what drew me to public service. That's why we're here today.
That's why we're here with other outstanding elected officials. Like our great Majority Leader in the U.S, not the New York, but the United States Senate. The one and only Chuck Schumer, who you’ll be hearing from shortly. Chuck Schumer is here and our Congress members, Carolyn Maloney and Adriano Espaillat great leaders who I served with in Congress. Incredible individuals and our brand new speaker, a female speaker, Adrienne Adams, you’re going to be hearing from in a while, as well as our district attorneys and others who have joined us here today.
We come together to join with clergy and community to say, this is our moment. This is how we'll be judged generations from now, how we respond to the call to continue the fight for justice. And that is why on December 23rd, one of the bills I was so proud to sign into law declared that racism is a public health crisis today because the war is not over. The battle is not over. The march must go on toward justice because we are not there yet my friends. Dr. King would say we are not to the top of the mountain just yet. And one of the issues that we must galvanize behind is recognizing that yes, we've come through a difficult time with this virus known as COVID, but there is an insidious virus that's attacking our very core of our democracy.
And that's known as voter suppression. We must link arms together to fight against what is going on, not in our state, thank God, but all across America. Well, 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. We're going to continue fighting marching, making sure that our leaders in Washington respond, even those who are not with us now.
We need them to turn their hearts and do what is right. And also at out state level, I am not going to as Governor, without focusing on the issues that matter. Like making sure people have housing over their heads, a great education for our children to lift them out of their circumstances, quality healthcare, which we saw happen during this pandemic. The disparity and why so many more black and brown individuals died of COVID, because they were denied quality access to healthcare and why more mothers to be are being lost in childbirth. Black mothers are losing their lives because they are getting inferior healthcare.
These are the issues of our time, and I'm committed, in the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, to carry on what I can do in our state government, work with my partners in government, our partners at all levels, from Washington down to the local level. We will continue to march forward until we get to the mountain top, because we're not there yet, my friends. So start packing up your backpack, put on your hiking boots because we're going to the mountain top together. Thank you very much.