Breaking the Glass Ceiling: A role model, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is eager to learn from others, as well

One month after taking on the role of Brooklyn’s most visible cheerleader and vocal advocate, former State Senator Eric Adams – now Brooklyn borough president — is still riding the bus and subway to work at his new office space in Brooklyn Borough Hall and he plans to keep it that way.

“It keeps you grounded when you’re rushing to a meeting and the number 4 train is stuck again and you’re delayed,” Adams joked. “I have a MetroCard monthly pass and am always waiting on line like everyone else, having conversations with people and doing the same things that everyone in the city does, so I can always stay true to understanding the needs of everyday New Yorkers.”

Everyday Brooklynites come in all shapes, sizes and colors, said Adams, for whom Black History Month is “a moment to reinforce my understanding of what it means to be black [and] what it means to be an American.

“What Black History Month meant to me as a child is different from what it means to me as an adult,” he explained. “As a child, it meant reflecting on Sojourner Truth, Dr. King, Malcolm X and some of the notable figures and stars of the black experience. As an adult, it forced me to evolve my thinking about Black History Month per se. Now it allows me to think about the American experience and how black history gives us the opportunity to appreciate the struggles of all people.”

On being a role model as Brooklyn’s first borough president of color, Adams admitted that “if one would have told me that I would have accomplished [this] feat, I would not have believed it was possible. But possibilities become reality when you put in the dedication and commitment and don’t allow your fear to get in the way of your success because success is on the other side of fear.”

Adams’ goals as Brooklyn borough president all touch on “giving Brooklynites the resources and services that they need to improve their quality of life,” through such initiatives as a borough-wide financial literacy program, peer tutoring between older and younger  students, partnerships between community-based organizations and the Police Department, healthy eating programs and preventive health care, and “matching the structural development that we have as buildings with the physical development we have as people.

“My tenure here is going to be a tenure focusing on improving lives of Brooklynites,” he said.

His advice to future generations? “We’re all role models.

“We have reached a point where we redefine the term ‘role model’ — it’s not someone who’s senior, but someone who can teach another,” Adams said. “We can learn just as much from young people about how to navigate historical pitfalls as we can from octogenarians. I know I have role to play in helping someone model their life in the future, but I know I can learn from those who can teach me what it means to serve well.”

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