The day after the presidential election, I spoke with my fellow Philadelphians about our city's unique responsibility in times of division.
As both the nation's birthplace and the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, we must demonstrate how a place built on the foundation of equality, diversity and inclusion can thrive.
We must show that progressive policies create a stronger and safer city. They are not "burdensome regulations," but rather tools that allowed our crime rate to plummet to a 40-year low and put Philadelphia at the top of the list of millennial growth and travel destinations.
We will face an important test of our unique responsibility on Thursday, as we welcome President Trump, Vice President Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the members of the Republican U.S. House and Senate Caucuses to Philadelphia for a policy retreat.
There are quite a few things I hope they see while they're in town.
Just a short walk from their hotel is Independence Hall, where America's founders created a nation built on the promise of equal rights. Right across the street, they can see the Liberty Bell, which we ring each year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to honor those who move us closer to finally fulfilling that promise. Last year, U.S. Rep. John Lewis was honored.
I hope they go to Barbacoa in South Philadelphia, which — in addition to recently being named one of the 10 best restaurants in the United States — is owned and operated by an undocumented Mexican immigrant. She and her fellow immigrant entrepreneurs are responsible for much of Philadelphia's recent small-business growth, generating $300 million in annual earnings.
I also hope they see you. The beautiful majority-minority city that rallied together to overcome millions of dollars in corporate lobbying effort to make historic investments in pre-kindergarten and community schools. A city that is about to embark on a massive infrastructure project to rebuild parks, recreation centers and libraries in neighborhoods that have been left behind.
I know many of you plan to make sure they hear you. And, as always, our police officers will protect your right to peacefully demonstrate, as they did during the Democratic National Convention — conducting not a single arrest.
But as you take to the streets, I urge you to remember Philadelphia's special responsibility. If we try to fight hate with hate, we will lose an opportunity to show them what cities such as ours can accomplish.
Philadelphia is strong because we embrace our diversity and respect our differences. We do not choose between economic growth and helping those in poverty. And we do not create a false choice between public safety and treating all people with dignity and respect. And we welcome all — no matter race, creed or country of origin — to contribute to our city and our democracy.
We are the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. Let's show them how it's done.