Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a press conference with Hazel Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference, at the 86th NAACP New York State Conference Convention in Binghamton to address issues impacting the African American community. Immediately following the press conference, Gillibrand delivered remarks at the convention.
Senator Gillibrand’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Hello everybody. It’s so great to be here for the NAACP New York State Conference’s 86th annual convention!
86 years. It’s incredible that this community of powerful, courageous, indomitable New Yorkers has been gathering since the 1930s. Can you imagine what it must have been like? To gather as a community at a time when our nation was still segregated and Black folks were treated like less than second class citizens?
But of course our friends like Dr. Hazel Dukes here don’t have to imagine it. They lived it.
This past March, Hazel celebrated her 90th birthday.
She was Rosa Parks’ neighbor growing up. She witnessed Martin Luther King’s greatness during the civil rights movement. She has had a front row seat to history and has seen how far we’ve come in the fight for equality. But she also sees how much further we still have to go.
Because there are people in this country today who want to make it harder for Black people to exercise their right to vote. They want to make it harder to get health care, harder to get maternal care, harder to get reproductive care. And they want to make it easier for guns to make their way into our communities and fall into the hands of white supremacists. Into the hands of people who have hatred in their heart.
But we won’t allow it. New York won’t allow it. The Black community and all its allies won’t allow it.
For that reason I have been fighting for years to protect voting rights and am determined to continue the legacy of the late Congressman John Lewis to protect disenfranchised voters and their sacred right to vote. I’ve worked to address the unacceptable maternal mortality crisis, to protect the right to reproductive health care, and to provide more funding for our frontline and health care workers. And I was proud to support the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act which included key provisions from my bill to stop gun trafficking.
Because it’s time to end injustice. It’s time to end oppression. It’s time to put a stop to racism. And it’s time to vote out the politicians who aren’t acting in the best interests of the Black community. And that’s why we’re here this weekend. To come together in unity and strength.
So thank you all again for joining us for what I know is going to be an incredible weekend. Thank you to all of the speakers, the panelists, musicians, and all of the members of the NAACP New York State Conference who have made this event possible.
And I hope you all will get into some good, necessary trouble these next few days and beyond.