WRITTEN BY: JOHN COLE
On one of the biggest nights in the 2016 Presidential Cycle, with 11 states up for grabs for each party, United States Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey spent his night at the Parkway Central Library in Center City.
Starting at 7:30 p.m. in a sold out auditorium, the Q&A between Sen. Booker and Tamala Edwards of 6ABC eventually opened up giving the audience a chance to ask questions.
The focus of the evening was on Sen. Booker’s book, United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good, which was given to everybody in attendance as a part of his or her ticket. Though the focus of the evening was around the senator’s book, topics varied from the current race for the White House to the senator’s vegan diet, and concussions in football.
Sen. Booker stated that writing this book was “the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.” The dialogue between Edwards and Booker went in depth with specific serious details of the senator’s life, but there were several instances in which the crowd busted out in laughter.
Sen. Booker discussed his upbringing of being the first black family in his neighborhood to his experiences with people while being an elected official. A common topic of the night and what Sen. Booker preached was the call to love each other. He shared stories of a woman by the name of Ms. Virginia Jones, who was the President of the Tenants Association in which he lived at in Newark while on City Council and what a profound impact she had on his life.
Sen. Booker stated he wasn’t always “an angel” during heated political races, but told the audience his experiences of working with Democrats and Republicans alike to advance the common good and the importance of loving one another. Sen. Booker – a Hillary Clinton supporter – spoke about working on bills with Republican Senators Rand Paul and GOP Presidential candidate Ted Cruz.
With all eyes on the GOP candidate for the White House, Donald Trump, Sen. Booker stated how he’s “so offended at by what Donald Trump is saying.” Trump’s controversial campaign has led to opposition even within his own party, but Sen. Booker stated how he believes Trump would’ve never came to be without the gridlock from elected officials in D.C., including himself. Sen. Booker referenced a call to love Trump despite their political differences and stated, “Our differences matter, but our country matters more.” The crowd applauded in agreement. Tamala Edwards added the old quote, “hate the sin, love the sinner.”
A topic near and dear to Sen. Booker’s heart, mass incarceration, was also discussed at length. A question was asked from a Sen. Bernie Sanders supporter about Hillary Clinton’s past remarks and support of the Crime Bill passed during President Bill Clinton’s administration. Sen. Booker talked about Hillary Clinton seeking his ideas on criminal justice reform and how it was vital to keep fighting for criminal justice reform.
Sen. Booker was also asked about the vacant United States Supreme Court seat and stated he was “flattered” his name was mentioned in an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, but would not be taking the seat if offered.
The last question from the audience was in regards to the current state of football and concussions. He was asked if he would let his son – if he had one – play the sport known to cause such a serious injury. Sen. Booker played tight-end for Stanford University and talked about how sports was so unifying. He said as of now, “I believe, yes I would.” However, he acknowledged it was a very difficult question to answer.
The forum ended with an emotional story from Sen. Booker about the murder of a boy he knew who had lived in the same tenant building in Newark while he was first elected mayor. He discussed how heartbroken he was over this and recalled storming out of the funeral and proceeding to City Hall to weep. He recalled Ms. Virginia Jones consoling him, who had her son murdered years before, and how her words, “stay faithful” has resonated with him since the occurrence.
The senator concluded the event by stating, “This nation ain’t done yet” followed by reciting the famous Langston Hughes poem, Let America be America Again.