In what was probably her last public appearance as Suffolk County Sheriff, new state Public Safety Secretary Andrea Cabral gave the keynote address at the Chelsea Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast – focusing her remarks primarily for the young people in the Revere and Chelsea area.
“Growing up, Dr. King and Malcolm X were very important men in my household,” said Cabral. “These were men who risked their lives to fight for rights that were routinely denied black people like me…Dr. King was thinking of me and you and all the generations in between and beyond when he did that…They knew knowledge is power and education is important. It’s easy to convince yourself that it doesn’t matter to know more, to graduate high school or go to college. It does matter.”
Cabral’s comments came during the Chelsea Community and People’s A.M.E. Church Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday celebration on Monday in Chelsea High School. It also came on the eve of one of Cabral’s last days in the local office, where she has concentrated so much time and effort on ensuring that young people could be reformed if they so desired.
She reiterated her call to education by saying it is important to learn and to want to learn.
“Be curious and ask questions,” she said. “Read a lot. Read about people who are smarter than you. Believe me, there are always people smarter than you. Your hunger for knowledge should be like your hunger for food. It should be never-ending. If it is, eventually, you will be one of the smart people that other people are reading about.”
Cabral also called on those in the audience not to be held back by conformity.
“When we don’t succeed, many times it’s because we hold ourselves back,” she said. “We should not be afraid to do something different. It is the unique who make a mark. You will never pick up a book and read about people who have done important who were not unique. Different changes the world.”
Finally, Cabral called on everyone in the audience to resist the temptation to be mean-spirited. Rather, she called on everyone to be kind in the same vein that King called on everyone to love one another.
“Kindness does not cost a dime,” she said. “You are never too young to be kind to someone…You can change a person’s life with a friendship. It’s easy to be mean, especially if you don’t feel good about yourself. The definition of courage is being afraid to do what you know is right and you do it anyway.”
Cabral is expected to be officially sworn in as the new Secretary of Public Safety – a state Cabinet position – at some point late this week. She has served as Suffolk County Sheriff for the past 10 years.