The City Council unanimously approved a motion by Council President Anthony Zambuto to request Mayor Brian Arrigo to commission a banner honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the outstanding civil rights leader and brilliant orator, and that the banner be displayed on the front of City Hall during the month of February in recognition of Black History Month.
“Obviously, myself and a lot of people look at Martin Luther King as a hero,” said Zambuto. “He stood for a lot of the things that we all stand for. His biggest thing was content of character, not color of skin. He was for peaceful protests. There are many things I find myself in common with this great man. I’m not sure that we’re teaching history as well in the schools today. And I’m not sure a lot of young people actually know a lot about this man.”
Community organizer Somaya Laroussi asked Zambuto and other councillors about their motivation in “trying to push for this [banner] only because I’ve noticed that especially in the past year that when there were peaceful protests being held locally, there were only two elected officials in attendance coming in support of the children who were organizing these protests.”
Laroussi added that the only councilor in attendance at the rally was Steven Morabito.
Council President Patrick Keefe disputed that claim, stating that he was in attendance at the rally held this past summer.
“I guess you’re calling out and asking us to reference our history on how we’ve been respectful to the community,” said Keefe. “I don’t list every accomplishment that I may or may not have had, but I think my actions speak for themselves. I think there have been number of councilors that were on those marches and at the peaceful protests.”
Ward 2 Councilor Ira Novoselsky also said that other councilors were present for the march.
“With all due respect to Somaya, Councilor Morabito was not the only person at that march,” said Novoselsky. “I was there. Councilor Guinasso was there. We stood on the City Hall steps with the speakers supporting that march and the Black Lives Matter program.”
Revere resident Shania Hosseini, who described herself as a human rights activist, asked if the MLK banner could be displayed in the city after Black History Month ends (Feb. 28). “I think that banner should stay wherever you guys decide to put it until our own epidemic of racism in our city ends,” said Hosseini.
Hosseini asked the Council to take into consideration her request that the banner be displayed in a location within the city on a permanent basis.
Zambuto responded directly to Hosseini’s request, offering that “we only temporarily affix things to City Hall – they’re never permanent and that’s why my motion calls for the banner to be up for the month of Black History Month.”