NYC's new Black politicians take oath of office

Nayaba Arinde | 1/9/2014, 11:40 a.m.
Black New Yorkers got all “turned up” this week as a spate of glossy yet grassroots inaugurations took over the ...
Council member Inez Barron hosts her inauguration at City Hall, with Jackson, Miss. Mayor Chokwe Lumumba as the keynote speaker and the Rev. Herbert Daughtry delivering the oath of office. Photo by Bill Moore

It might have been subzero temperatures outside on Friday, Jan. 3, but inside the City Hall chambers, hundreds of community people and elected officials brought comforting warmth to New York City’s seat of power.

Among the families and everyday citizens, activists with Black revolutionary notions peppered the audience. Indeed, elected officials such as new Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and second-term Council Member Jumaane Williams sat side by side with activists who for decades have called on equal distribution of resources, reparations and the end to institutionalized racism. Keynote speaker Lumumba himself is the activist lawyer who worked diligently in the Black nationalist movement for decades. He was a proponent for the realization of the Republic of New Africa and is a co-founder of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America. He went from revolutionary councilman to chief executive of the city of Jackson.

The December 12th Movement’s Plummer, Omowale Clay and Roger Wareham were in the building alongside activists like “the people’s attorney” Michael Tarif Warren, Assemblyman Keith Wright, Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer, former Comptroller John Liu and City Council speaker contenders Melissa Mark-Viverito and Daniel Garodnick.

All of the inaugurations were grand affairs. Barron’s and Cornegy’s inaugurations brought out masses of everyday people: campaign workers, ardent supporters and focused residents.

Hosted by CBS Sports anchor Otis Livingston, Cornegy’s event at Bedstuy’s Cornerstone Baptist Church was blessed with performances by the New York City Housing Authority Choir and Brooklyn’s Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Gordon Chambers. A virtual who’s who of New York City officials sat in the pews.

As mounds of snow melted outside, a well-healed mix sat in the sweltering church: Cornegy’s predecessor, Al Vann; Reps. Yvette Clarke and Hakeem Jeffries; new Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson; James; Adams; state Sen. Kevin Parker; Liu; Assemblywoman Annette Robinson; and a host of other community leaders. Even de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, dropped by Corengy’s packed-to-the-rafters affair.

Cornegy went in as the council member-elect and came out sworn in with big issues to address and a constituency eagerly awaiting answers to long-standing issues. Saying that he had a personal relationship with so many people in the room, the oft-seen local family man said that he understands the needs of the community in which he lives and where some of his six children go to school.

There have been swearing-in ceremonies all across the city, as new elected officials—from borough presidents to judges to City Council members—begin or extend their terms. New Fort Greene Council Member Laurie Cumbo is one such newly elected official, and she will be hosting a “Swearing-in Ceremony and Inauguration Celebration” on Sunday, Jan. 12 at 3 p.m. at Ingersoll Community Center (177 Myrtle Ave., Brooklyn).

We’re all in this together,” Cumbo said in a statement. “I am overwhelmed by the love and support that I have received throughout this campaign to create one Brooklyn where we respect all our neighbors old and new, build on our incredible history and move forward with our collective voices ... together. The work does not end here ... we will move forward as a movement to close the economic divide in New York City and to bring a level of humanity back to our city. I look forward to working with each and every one of you to make this ambitious goal a reality. Now the real work begins!”