Earlier in the day, Governor Kathy Hochul delivered remarks at the African-American Veterans Monument and its dedication.
B-ROLL of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) here.
VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) here.
SOUND of the event is available here.
PICTURES of the event will be available on the Governor’s Flickr page.
A quick transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:
I’m so honored to be here because it’s been a long journey for some of my friends, people who have had the vision to say there’s been tremendous neglect in our nation’s history and to recognize the contributions of so many who have sacrificed their lives and were willing to sacrifice their lives over the past 400 years.
I want to give special thanks to New York State Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who fought for this here at the state level, at the national level. She was tenacious. And I’m so proud today to see the culmination of her fighting spirit because she never took no for an answer. Also, our local elected officials – I can’t name them all, but it’s our Mayor Byron Brown’s birthday. And I have to say happy birthday to our mayor. And Senator Kennedy, as well as Brian Higgins, our great congressman – so many people have been here a long time. And to Brenda the others, and I’m not here to announce books – just, you know, our county legislature. No, I’m not going.
But this is the dedication, the unveiling of not only Buffalo’s first monument, not only New York’s first, but our country’s first African-American veteran monument. And in February, I directed my members to the 400th anniversary commission, the honor 400 years of African-American history, 400 years. And you look back over 400 years and I had Dr. Hazel Dukes, who is a dear friend, the head of the NAACP. And I’ve also asked Dr. Henry Taylor from Buffalo to be part of this creation of a story, a story that’s long overdue, but a very special part of this has to be the story through the history of the contributions African Americans at war. and veterans after. And I’m here today in my hometown so I can see the beginning of righting wrongs. And that is personal to me. I literally, when I’m in town, it’s not as often as I like to be, but I cycle past this site. I’ve been watching it since that rainy day when we had shovels in the ground. Anyone remember that day? It’s much better. I said, “We have to do better than that, the team.” And you did.
I ride my bike and watched the cranes and the digging and the work and the people working so hard to build something that I don’t want to be just for Buffalo people. I want it to be for our nation, and people around the world, to say, “We may be a little behind here, but at least we’re getting there today.” And we go way back with this story. There are books written, books we read, but the whole thing – the Boston massacre, the very beginning of our fight for freedom. The very first victim was a man named Crispus Attucks. And he died, the first to die in our fight for freedom. And it’s not lost on me, what it is for him and the 5,000 people who followed African Americans into this war itself – our very first conflict for freedom, which they were fighting for. the freedom of an entire nation at a time when they had no freedom themselves. Throughout history, this has been the case. You’re talking about the Harlem Hellfighters. We told them to go over there and you’re going to be able to fight, and you’re going to be on the front line. They were told to empty the supply ships when they arrived in Europe. But when they are finally needed, they are responsible for destroying German battalions, and they finally got the recognition they deserve.
And I will end by saying that one of the greatest honors of my life was meeting four of Tuskegee’s original Airmen. They came to our state capital. I was able to present them with medals and hear their stories which were immortalized in a film. Honor them. They are the real heroes because they could neither eat nor sleep nor be removed like the dignity of other men because of the color of their skin. And yet they persevered. They said, “I will rise in the air and strike down our enemy.” I’m not afraid of anything. And finally, today we come to present for history, for immortality, those stories that have been lost until this very year. So, I’m proud to be here, proud to be governor of a state that recognizes it, and proud of my local friends and community contributions, and those who fought are in danger today. God keeps them safe. Those of those who sacrificed, lost their lives and those who are part of the veteran community today. Thanks a lot. And God bless America.