Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Mayor Cory Booker

I've referenced Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ, here in the past. His personal story and his vision for urban America captured my attention when I first read about his work. The fact that he chose to live in public housing was what initially caused me to take a closer look at this young leader.

Last Friday evening, Booker appeared on Bill Moyers Journal, a PBS program that aired on KERA Channel 13 here in Dallas.

You can catch his interview with Moyers, as well as find your way to a informative segment on the 40th anniversary of the Kerner Commission Report on race relations in the U. S.

Just use this link: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/03282008/profile2.html.

Let me know what you think of Mayor Booker.



Shaun Casey said...

Thanks for this link! I have admired Booker from afar. He was the subject of a great documentary, Street Fight, which tells the story of his unsuccessful first run for mayor.

katie said...

Wow. I'm impressed. I appreciated his emphasis on the personal responsibility of each person to make change -- don't expect the gov't to do it, don't expect someone else to do it. Get up and make change happen (~12:00). He said that at some point we need to move past blame (~17:00) and start making a difference. What a fine line to really acknowledge problems, pain, issues, genuione scars...and yet not just sit in blame, not just feel justified in being broken. How do we help people move past a victim's mentality? It's too easy to fall into, no matter how large or small the woundds may be. And I loved the way he challenged the entitlement we see so rampant in our country (specifically my generation, I'm afraid). He said we need to look at what we are each doing to deservve being in this country (~20:00). He asserted that he would speak the same message to those who seemed to have been screwed by the system as those who seem to have profited the most from it. I don't think what he said was terribly new, I can hear the thoughts and ideas of those who came before him. But he brings it together in a great way, and seems to be effecting real change.

And as a sidenote, can anyone choose to live in public housing? It was my impression that section 8housing was restricted to those under a certain income level. How did he find himself in that situation?

Larry James said...

Katie, thanks for the post, and you too Shaun!

Yes, anyone can live in some public housing developments if they are willing to pay market rates. That is the case here in Dallas at Roseland Homes. The intention there is to mix incomes, but, as you'd expect, it has not been too successful. Booker evidently chose to live in public housing for several years. I don't think he is living there any longer.

Daniel Gray said...

Thanks for sharing the link, Larry. I definitely enjoyed listening to him and hope to hear more in the future. You have any other links to interviews/speeches with him?

From his wikipedia entry:
"From 1998 to 2006, he lived in Brick Towers, a notorious public housing project in Newark's Central Ward. Booker organized tenants there to fight for improved conditions. In November 2006, Booker left his apartment for the top unit in a three-story rental on Hawthorne Avenue on Newark's south side, an area described as "a drug- and gang-plagued neighborhood of boarded-up houses and empty lots."[4]

I love the fact that he continues living right in the middle of the city's problems, even after his rise to mayor.

c hand said...

Does that mean that Rev. Jerimiah Wright is wrong to live in a multi million dollar mansion inside a mostly white gated community?

Anonymous said...

Would it be wrong if he were white?

Larry James said...

Of course, the purpose of the post was not to drag others into the conversation, but to spotlight the unique commitment and resolve of Mayor Booker. I believe Anon 3:02 p.m. raises a very important question, c hand.

c hand said...

I thought one of themes of your blog was admonishment toward living out ones faith.
Why would Wright instruct his flock from the pulpit to flee the sin of white middle-classness as he indulged himself in such luxury purchased from church coffers?
Do you try to practice what you preach?

And Larry I am not accusing you of living the high life from donations sollicited for the poor. But would it be wrong if you did?

c hand's black neighbor said...

c hand:

Larry's blog was about Cory Booker, not Jeremiah Wright. You've only brought it up to launch a segue discussion so that you can spew your agenda.

Or is it that all black men look the same to you?

You should get your own blog, and stop trying to co-opt this one.

Anonymous said...

c hand, your comments are filled with all sorts of assumptions and are not worthy of discussion.

Larry James said...

Anon 7:29, I agree with you about c hand's assumptions. I'm sure Rev Wright needs no defense from me. However, I also know that his messages are filled with encouragement to self-sufficiency and personal responsibility and achievement. I'm not sure his messages have been anti-middle class at all. I do know they have been filled with statements surpporting justice, fairness and equity. And, I have no idea about his own personal economic situation, nor do I expect does c hand. I also know nothing about the source of whatever wealth he has earned. Again, c hand's assumptions come into play just here.

Back on subject: the point of my post was to spotlight the exceptional nature of Cory Booker as a political and urban leader and as someone worthy of our attention. The fact that c hand moves off subject to Rev Wright tells us a great deal about c hand's worldview and his own priorities.

c hand said...

You made a point to say that mayor Booker's commitment is exceptional. Why is this so? There is no shortage of progressive left people RECITING the aproved lines. Why is Booker different from Wright? And since they are so different how can the both be held up as models.

I don't think I assumed to much or misled on Rev Wright, if it proves that I did, my apologies.

The charge of racism, so quickly thrown, really is silly.

I'm sure your own commitment is equal to Booker's, have you ever recounted it in this space?

Larry James said...

c hand, if you don't think that it is exceptional for the mayor of a major American city to choose to live in the worst parts of his community, then I guess I can't imagine what is exceptional to you. And, if you took the time to listen to Mayor Booker, you wouldn't be able to judge him as one who simply "recites" lines from the left. His message is very different, as is his personal commitment.

Your comments about Rev Wright, as well as any comments about me--from either one of us--, are way off base and subject.

c hand said...

I miscommunicated. I accept unconditionally that Booker is exceptional. The evidence is that he does not merely recite retoric but walks his walk. The challenge was this: Why are your ranks not full of Bookers? There is no shortage of those talking the talk.

Was Booker's consistency of purpose not part of the story? If so, my questions of Wright and his continued support are on line, no?

Anonymous said...

"As a person of color in America, I have been constantly asked to honor, even celebrate, white men and women of historical and contemporary note, over and apart from less-than-honorable, glaring, even odious aspects of their public lives. Isn't it time all saw fit to afford one another the same grace, instead of holding one another completely hostage to our shortcomings? In post-racial hope, can we be that vulnerable with one another?"

-Melvin Bray, on the recent WRIGHT controversy, on Sojourners web page

Larry James said...

c hand, I have no knowledge or evidence that Wright's life and message don't line up. I have no understanding of his private life. What are the sources of your assumptions?

Noted evangelist Billy Graham for years warned against materialism and the "sins of the middle class" in view of a world of pain and need. Did he live in the ghetto? How big is his house? Why single out Wright?

As to your question, "Why are your ranks not full of Bookers? There is no shortage of those talking the talk." Again, you make more assumptions. I can point to many, many people like Mayor Booker who walk the talk and talk the walk--John Perkins, Shane Claiborne, Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, and the countless folks who work in our sector making a fracton of what they could earn if they weren't devoting themselves to the struggle of the marginalized--I can give you a long list right here in Dallas. Give it up, c hand, we understand your point and most of us simply don't agree with or respect it.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Booker is already looking like Mayor Sharpe James. Booker is using James’ old political playbook. He is selling out to the big money developers already. The brother of a political contributor, to booker’s campaign, is going to build a helicopter port in next to peoples homes in the city. Bill Moyers did a softball piece and did not do his home work.