Leticia James Sworn in as New York City's First Black Woman Public Advocate

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On Wednesday January 1, Leticia James became the first Black woman to be elected to citywide office in New York City. James was inaugurated as the city's public advocate which makes James second in line to the mayorship.

In her address, James criticized the growing inequality in the city.

Dasani Coates, the young girl who was profiled by the New York Times late last year, held the Bible for James as she was sworn in.

The wave of progressive victories our city has recently enjoyed, thanks to the City Council, was in some ways inevitable. The fabric of our city, of our nation, is made strong by the untold sacrifices of so many who are left defenseless, unrepresented, unspoken for. But at some point in history, the tide must turn. The policies that make them voiceless must give way to a government that works for them, that speaks for them, that cares more about a child going hungry than a new stadium or a new tax credit for a luxury development.

To live up to that challenge and to be morally centered in our decisions is the task before those of us who think of ourselves as the progressive wing of our city. Even as the tide turns towards progress, we do not have the luxury to rest. You see, the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots undermines our city and tears at the fabric of our democracy.

We live in a gilded age of inequality, where decrepit homeless shelters and housing developments stand in the neglected shadow of gleaming, multi-million-dollar condos; where long-term residents are being priced out of their own neighborhoods by rising rents and stagnant incomes; where stop-and-frisk abuses and warrantless surveillance have been touted as success stories, as if crime can only be reduced by infringing on the civil liberties of people of color.


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