Although Brian Benjamin has officially been serving in office since Sept. 9, the freshly-minted lieutenant governor held a community swearing-in ceremony on Sunday afternoon outside of the Bethel Gospel Church.
The program was designed to allow his Harlem neighbors to be a part of the celebration acknowledging the second Black man to ever hold the title.
Coordinated by the Manhattan Democratic Party, a slew of state senators, council members, and democratic nominees gushed over Benjamin, not only heralding him as a perfect fit for the position, but also as a noble human being.
“Whether they speak Spanish or English or they pray to one God or the another, or whether they’re male, female, or the LGBTQ community, all the Harlem’s of the world will feel represented by having this young man, as our current lieutenant governor,” Congressman Adriano Espaillat said.
In addition to Benjamin’s character, many also spoke of his failed run for city comptroller, stating that although he did not come out on top in that race, speakers felt he was meant for another purpose — one in which he can bring the Black and Brown voice to an even higher office, along with the voice of Harlem itself, starting with this ceremony.
The new lieutenant governor credits the love and support of his wife for allowing him to confidently accept Kathy Hochul’s charge, and locals for believing in him.
“I’m following the former Lieutenant Governor and Governor David A. Paterson from this district from the same senate seat. I wanted people to be able to see without having to go through protocols and who can’t speak and who can speak and for how long. I just wanted it to be with a lot of you here who have been here with me, either happily or unhappily from the beginning. And I wanted it to be also near where I live. I live on 121st Street. Our family uses this park, Marcus Garvey Park. I wanted this to be grounded here because I wanted the start to reflect where I am from,” Benjamin said.
After thanking his community and the presence of his fellow elected officials as well as Judge Frank Perry, who swore him into office earlier this month, Benjamin added that he hopes to uplift New Yorkers through his position.
In attendance were Speaker Corey Johnson, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Manhattan District Attorney Democratic Party nominee Alvin Braggs, City Council Member and Manhattan Borough President Democratic nominee Mark Levine, and others who each applauded Benjamin’s accolades and dedication to New York City.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.