Mayor Bill De E Blasio Delivers remarks at CUNY celebracion for Herman Badillo | Información al Desnudo

Mayor Bill De E Blasio Delivers remarks at CUNY celebracion for Herman Badillo

NY Post: M-032701BADILLO4JA:New York City,NY March 27, 2001 --- 03/27/2001, Badillo:  Herman Badillo was endorsed for Mayor by The Young Republicans of New York on the steps of City Hall, Tuesday, 3/27/01. --- Jim Alcorn   New York Post

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you so much. Thank you, everyone. Thank you to Jay Hershenson for the very kind introduction, and to everyone at CUNY and Hunter College for giving us this opportunity to think about a great man and all he did for New York City and beyond – all he did for this nation.

 

It is an honor to join you all here to celebrate the life of Herman Badillo, a real giant – one of the those names emblazoned on the history of this city, not just the politics, not just the government, but the folk lore of this city, the life of the city – someone who made such a profound difference and was felt so deeply by people all over this city for generations. I want to just say it’s a special honor to be here in the presence of Gail Badillo. Her words just now were so touching, so deeply felt. It is a blessing that Herman had a wife who was such a true partner in all that he loved, and who is carrying on his legacy so brilliantly. Let’s thank Gail Badillo for all she does.

 

[Applause]

 

So many people are here because they want to remember this great man and remember all that he did for us. I want to thank several of them. I want to thank, of course, the president of Hunter College, who does so much for this city in her own right, Jennifer Raab.

 

[Applause]

 

Two key members of my administration are here to salute Herman Badillo – of course, our great police commissioner, Bill Bratton.

 

[Applause]

 

And a young man from the Bronx who, in his own way, is following in the footsteps of Herman Badillo, our community affairs commissioner, Marco Carrion.

 

[Applause]

 

And so many people who’ve been a part of public life in this city for so long are here to salute Herman. Obviously, we want to especially thank Mayor David Dinkins.

 

[Applause]

 

My two fellow city-wide officials, Public Advocate Tish James and Comptroller Scott Stringer –

 

[Applause]

 

And representing the great state of New York, our secretary of state, Cesar Perales. Let’s thank them all.

 

[Applause]

 

A lot of people are here because we feel so much about what Herman Badillo meant. And you could say that a lot of people were an example of the American dream, a lot of people benefitted from the American dream. Well, Herman Badillo embodied the American dream. He could have been the textbook example of all that was possible in this nation. He had a story that is so classically all that is good about New York City. It’s part of what has always made people feel so much about him. He has inspired people because of all he had to overcome. And isn’t that something that New Yorkers feel in our hearts? We understand the underdog. We understand the person who’s been told what he can’t do and what’s not possible. And we feel something so strong when that person overcomes. Well, Herman Badillo overcame so much to become a household name here in New York City.

 

He was born in Puerto Rico, and he did not have a storybook childhood. He had a very painful childhood. He had the kind of childhood that, sadly, for many, might have set them on a very difficult path and not inspire them to great works. He was orphaned as a young boy. He lost so much of his family – not just his parents, but grandparents, and aunts, and uncles to a tuberculosis epidemic. Imagine – as a young child, something happening far beyond your power to stop, let alone understand. He saw his family wiped out, and yet somewhere within him there was a strength.

 

At the age of 11, he moved to New York City with one of his aunts. He arrived not speaking a word of English. And again, if this is not a quintessential and beautiful New York story, I don’t know what is. He worked hard, and that is always the essence of a great New York story. He worked hard. He studied hard. He learned English through our public schools. And then he went to the city university. And he cared so deeply for the city university. And that feeling he had was not just because of his beliefs about the world and about uplifting others, it was because he himself had been uplifted by these great institutions. City College – where he graduated magna cum laude – and then later, he went to a different school, the Brooklyn Law School – graduated first in the class. Imagine that – going from an atmosphere of abject fear and pain, to believing in yourself so much that you could lead a class of other scholars, and be well on your way to something great. That was Herman Badillo.

 

And he worked – he worked all the time. He didn’t have independent wealth. He had to make his way every moment of every day. He worked as a short-order cook. He set pins in a bowling alley – whatever would give him the opportunity to get that education he yearned for and to be something great.

 

And he was an inspiration. And this is something you know if you talk to people in communities all over the city. All New Yorkers felt inspiration from Herman Badillo. Latino New Yorkers felt a special deep inspiration, and his fellow Puerto Ricans felt a kind of bursting pride in what he had accomplished and how far he had gone.

 

[Applause]

 

And Herman Badillo didn’t wait for barriers to be broken. Nor was he content to just break one. It seems that – if you look back on his career – wherever he went, he was breaking a barrier. He was resetting the pins in a different way. He was resetting the environment so that others would have opportunity as well. He was breaking down stereotypes and prejudices. He was the first Latino New York City commissioner. He was the first Latino New York City borough president. He was the nation’s first Puerto Rican congressman. Everywhere he went – a first.

 

[Applause]

 

And as he reached those lofty heights, he wasn’t content with a title. He wasn’t content just to exist and claim victory for how far he had gotten. He worked to change the assumptions and the possibilities for so many others. He championed those who were struggling. He didn’t forget where he came from. He didn’t forget what poverty was like. He didn’t forget the challenges of immigration. He didn’t forget the biases that afflicted the Latino community. He didn’t forget how hard it was to make it when there were strikes against you.

 

And so, he fought every step along the way, and particularly in Congress, where voices were needed to explain to this nation what all those challenges were like and how they had to be overcome for us to be a complete nation. His voice was strong. His voice was strong on education. His voice was strong on economic opportunity. His voice was strong on civil rights.

 

And then his beloved city faced a crisis that we had never seen the likes of before in the 1970s. A lot of people remember. Some who weren’t here for it would find it hard to believe, but we teetered on the edge. This city – this great, great city teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. And you know, that was the great unknown. And some people had to step up at that moment – and not just here. This city desperately needed friends elsewhere to keep it whole. In Washington, it was Herman Badillo who led the charge to get us the help we needed so our nation’s greatest city could get back on its feet and thrive.

 

You know, in those days – and I’ve heard it from folks who were there – there were many in Washington who were ready to let New York City just slip away. As stunning as that thought is, as horrible, and immoral, and counter-productive – we all remember the famous headline, Ford to City – Drop Dead. Those were the times that Herman Badillo lived and fought in for his city. And he would not allow those in Washington to turn away. He stood up, and he’s one of the reasons we got through the storm.

 

And at every step along the way, he kept coming back to one of his truest passions. As you heard Gail say, one of his truest passions was the education of others, was the uplifting of our young people. And he cared so deeply about CUNY in particular. He served on the board for over a decade and left such a deep imprint – believing this institution could be for future generations what it had been for him and so many before.

 

Hunter College has a motto that really captures so much of what Herman was about. The motto is, “the care of the future is mine.” That sense of selflessness, that sense of believing we’re here to set the stage for all those who come after – that’s what Herman felt. He believed no matter how tough his life had been, that he could help create a brighter future for those after.

 

Tonight, we see evidence of that spirit, that commitment, and we see very vividly that his work lives on in the Herman Badillo Scholarship Fund. And that means so much. It means he’s here with us. His work continues. His inspiration continues. It means there will be some young people who not only benefit because they got a scholarship with his name on it, they benefit because they will then walk in his footsteps. They will believe they could do things that others told them they couldn’t. They will believe that the future will be theirs to set for the next generation. And that is truly a blessing.

 

Thank you very, very much.

 

 

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you so much. Thank you, everyone. Thank you to Jay Hershenson for the very kind introduction, and to everyone at CUNY and Hunter College for giving us this opportunity to think about a great man and all he did for New York City and beyond – all he did for this nation.

 

It is an honor to join you all here to celebrate the life of Herman Badillo, a real giant – one of the those names emblazoned on the history of this city, not just the politics, not just the government, but the folk lore of this city, the life of the city – someone who made such a profound difference and was felt so deeply by people all over this city for generations. I want to just say it’s a special honor to be here in the presence of Gail Badillo. Her words just now were so touching, so deeply felt. It is a blessing that Herman had a wife who was such a true partner in all that he loved, and who is carrying on his legacy so brilliantly. Let’s thank Gail Badillo for all she does.

 

[Applause]

 

So many people are here because they want to remember this great man and remember all that he did for us. I want to thank several of them. I want to thank, of course, the president of Hunter College, who does so much for this city in her own right, Jennifer Raab.

 

[Applause]

 

Two key members of my administration are here to salute Herman Badillo – of course, our great police commissioner, Bill Bratton.

 

[Applause]

 

And a young man from the Bronx who, in his own way, is following in the footsteps of Herman Badillo, our community affairs commissioner, Marco Carrion.

 

[Applause]

 

And so many people who’ve been a part of public life in this city for so long are here to salute Herman. Obviously, we want to especially thank Mayor David Dinkins.

 

[Applause]

 

My two fellow city-wide officials, Public Advocate Tish James and Comptroller Scott Stringer –

 

[Applause]

 

And representing the great state of New York, our secretary of state, Cesar Perales. Let’s thank them all.

 

[Applause]

 

A lot of people are here because we feel so much about what Herman Badillo meant. And you could say that a lot of people were an example of the American dream, a lot of people benefitted from the American dream. Well, Herman Badillo embodied the American dream. He could have been the textbook example of all that was possible in this nation. He had a story that is so classically all that is good about New York City. It’s part of what has always made people feel so much about him. He has inspired people because of all he had to overcome. And isn’t that something that New Yorkers feel in our hearts? We understand the underdog. We understand the person who’s been told what he can’t do and what’s not possible. And we feel something so strong when that person overcomes. Well, Herman Badillo overcame so much to become a household name here in New York City.

 

He was born in Puerto Rico, and he did not have a storybook childhood. He had a very painful childhood. He had the kind of childhood that, sadly, for many, might have set them on a very difficult path and not inspire them to great works. He was orphaned as a young boy. He lost so much of his family – not just his parents, but grandparents, and aunts, and uncles to a tuberculosis epidemic. Imagine – as a young child, something happening far beyond your power to stop, let alone understand. He saw his family wiped out, and yet somewhere within him there was a strength.

 

At the age of 11, he moved to New York City with one of his aunts. He arrived not speaking a word of English. And again, if this is not a quintessential and beautiful New York story, I don’t know what is. He worked hard, and that is always the essence of a great New York story. He worked hard. He studied hard. He learned English through our public schools. And then he went to the city university. And he cared so deeply for the city university. And that feeling he had was not just because of his beliefs about the world and about uplifting others, it was because he himself had been uplifted by these great institutions. City College – where he graduated magna cum laude – and then later, he went to a different school, the Brooklyn Law School – graduated first in the class. Imagine that – going from an atmosphere of abject fear and pain, to believing in yourself so much that you could lead a class of other scholars, and be well on your way to something great. That was Herman Badillo.

 

And he worked – he worked all the time. He didn’t have independent wealth. He had to make his way every moment of every day. He worked as a short-order cook. He set pins in a bowling alley – whatever would give him the opportunity to get that education he yearned for and to be something great.

 

And he was an inspiration. And this is something you know if you talk to people in communities all over the city. All New Yorkers felt inspiration from Herman Badillo. Latino New Yorkers felt a special deep inspiration, and his fellow Puerto Ricans felt a kind of bursting pride in what he had accomplished and how far he had gone.

 

[Applause]

 

And Herman Badillo didn’t wait for barriers to be broken. Nor was he content to just break one. It seems that – if you look back on his career – wherever he went, he was breaking a barrier. He was resetting the pins in a different way. He was resetting the environment so that others would have opportunity as well. He was breaking down stereotypes and prejudices. He was the first Latino New York City commissioner. He was the first Latino New York City borough president. He was the nation’s first Puerto Rican congressman. Everywhere he went – a first.

 

[Applause]

 

And as he reached those lofty heights, he wasn’t content with a title. He wasn’t content just to exist and claim victory for how far he had gotten. He worked to change the assumptions and the possibilities for so many others. He championed those who were struggling. He didn’t forget where he came from. He didn’t forget what poverty was like. He didn’t forget the challenges of immigration. He didn’t forget the biases that afflicted the Latino community. He didn’t forget how hard it was to make it when there were strikes against you.

 

And so, he fought every step along the way, and particularly in Congress, where voices were needed to explain to this nation what all those challenges were like and how they had to be overcome for us to be a complete nation. His voice was strong. His voice was strong on education. His voice was strong on economic opportunity. His voice was strong on civil rights.

 

And then his beloved city faced a crisis that we had never seen the likes of before in the 1970s. A lot of people remember. Some who weren’t here for it would find it hard to believe, but we teetered on the edge. This city – this great, great city teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. And you know, that was the great unknown. And some people had to step up at that moment – and not just here. This city desperately needed friends elsewhere to keep it whole. In Washington, it was Herman Badillo who led the charge to get us the help we needed so our nation’s greatest city could get back on its feet and thrive.

 

You know, in those days – and I’ve heard it from folks who were there – there were many in Washington who were ready to let New York City just slip away. As stunning as that thought is, as horrible, and immoral, and counter-productive – we all remember the famous headline, Ford to City – Drop Dead. Those were the times that Herman Badillo lived and fought in for his city. And he would not allow those in Washington to turn away. He stood up, and he’s one of the reasons we got through the storm.

 

And at every step along the way, he kept coming back to one of his truest passions. As you heard Gail say, one of his truest passions was the education of others, was the uplifting of our young people. And he cared so deeply about CUNY in particular. He served on the board for over a decade and left such a deep imprint – believing this institution could be for future generations what it had been for him and so many before.

 

Hunter College has a motto that really captures so much of what Herman was about. The motto is, “the care of the future is mine.” That sense of selflessness, that sense of believing we’re here to set the stage for all those who come after – that’s what Herman felt. He believed no matter how tough his life had been, that he could help create a brighter future for those after.

 

Tonight, we see evidence of that spirit, that commitment, and we see very vividly that his work lives on in the Herman Badillo Scholarship Fund. And that means so much. It means he’s here with us. His work continues. His inspiration continues. It means there will be some young people who not only benefit because they got a scholarship with his name on it, they benefit because they will then walk in his footsteps. They will believe they could do things that others told them they couldn’t. They will believe that the future will be theirs to set for the next generation. And that is truly a blessing.

 

Thank you very, very much.

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