A Brooklyn pastor gave an invocation at Bill de Blasio’s mayoral inauguration on Wednesday comparing New York City to a Civil War-era “plantation” and asking for God’s help in ending inequality in the city.
“End the civil wars and usher in a new Reconstruction era that builds upon the many successes and achievements of yesterday while proclaiming the beginning of a new beginning,” said Rev. Fred A. Lucas Jr., of Brooklyn Community Church.
“Let the plantation called New York City be the city of God, a city set upon the hill. A light shining in the darkness,” Lucas prayed.
Lucas, who gave an invocation along with three other city religious leaders — an imam, rabbi and monsignor — continued, “Oh God, Oh God, Oh God; break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.”
During his inauguration speech, de Blasio reaffirmed his commitment to his progressive agenda. He also thanked Rev. Lucas and the other religious leaders for their thoughts.
“We are called to put an end to economic and social inequalities that threaten to unravel the city we love. And so today we commit to a new progressive direction in New York,” said de Blasio with former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and Bill and Hillary Clinton in attendance.
De Blasio handily defeated Republican competitor Joe Lhota in November, receiving 73 percent of the vote. Before winning the mayor’s seat, de Blasio was New York City’s public advocate and a city councilman. De Blasio also served as an aide to David Dinkins, the city’s last Democratic mayor who served from 1990 to 1993.
In the 1980s, previous to his time in city government, de Blasio was an ardent supporter of the Sandinistas, a Nicaraguan left-wing rebel group opposed most prominently by President Ronald Reagan.
De Blasio was roundly criticized back in November when Harry Belafonte, the civil rights leader and actor who was also a de Blasio surrogate, compared the libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch to the Ku Klux Klan.
“Already we have lost 14 states in this union to the most corrupt group of citizens I’ve ever known,” said Belafonte at a political event held at a Baptist church in New York City with de Blasio in attendance. “They make up the heart and the thinking in the minds of those who would belong to the Ku Klux Klan. They are white supremacists. They are men of evil. They have names. They are flooding our country with money.”
“The Koch brothers, that’s their name,” said Belafonte at the event. De Blasio manned the stage shortly after Belafonte’s remarks and praised the actor.
Brendan Bordelon contributed to this report.