Talking without notes as she moved along the front of the stage, Senator Stewart-Cousins compared human rights today with where it stood when she was young. She said that in the 1960s it was impossible for an African-American to become a delegate to either the Republican or Democratic convention. “Today, we have a president who is an African-American. How quickly things can change when minds change.”
She allowed there still is “a lot to be filled in and that’s our job.” Giving our children a good education is key. “You can’t force people” about what to believe, she said. “They’ll just push back and the lesson isn’t learned. You have to preach and teach … and show them.”
She said her own parents weren’t completely comfortable with the efforts of Dr. King. They wondered whether “it could lead to trouble” and “maybe the best you can do is be quiet.” But that wasn’t her choice. She grasped the tools Dr. King championed of “persistence, understanding and action.” She said she knew these tools wouldn’t be hers “until I lived it.”
She is credited with authoring and helping to push through the Westchester County Human Rights Law when she was a County legislator.
Article and Photograph Credit: Harold Wolfson; Larchmont Gazette