Guest Author - Carol Taller
Corey Booker was born April 27, 1969. After an affluent suburban youth he quickly achieved the reputation as an innovative, out of the box advocate for low income urban areas.
Corey Booker took office as mayor of Newark, New Jersey in 2006. The urban city had a reputation for a high crime rate, low income, poor education, and being the most culturally diverse city in New Jersey. He ran on a campaign promise for change.
Under Booker’s leadership the city quickly doubled their low income and affordable housing production as well as designating $40 million to transform the city’s parks and playgrounds through a public/private partnership. Midway through his first term, he achieved a 40% reduction in shootings and murders, leading the nation among large cities. Despite this, Newark still remains a high crime area for shootings and murders.
Corey Booker is a refreshing surprise as a politician. He speaks comfortably with charisma and charm. He’s personal history can help or hurt him. His parents, Cary and Carolyn Booker, were among the first African American employees of IBM. He grew up in Harrington Park, NJ, a predominantly white affluent neighborhood, and went to school at Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan where he was a star football player.
Booker went to Stanford University to earn a BA in political science and an MA in sociology. After Stanford, Booker earned a Rhodes Scholarship and studied in Oxford. There, he met Rabbi Shmuley Boteach; as they discussed philosophical doctrine they became friends. Gradually Booker became president of the L’Chaim Society, a local Chabad chapter that Boteach worked with. Booker brought together a very diverse community and Chabad thrived under his leadership.
Booker returned from England and obtained his JD from Yale Law School where he started free legal clinics for low income residents in New Haven. Following graduation he served as Staff Attorney for the Urban Justice Center in New York and Program Coordinator of the Newark Youth Project.
He chose to live in Newark, NJ where he organized tenants to fight for better housing conditions and many times allowed himself to live in substandard conditions to prove a point. He worked on the city council and he also became known as an advocate for educational reform. He became known for his bold leadership and innovative ideas.
In 2002 Booker ran for Mayor and lost. Many people claimed that Booker was too white to run the city of Newark. When he ran again in 2006 he won with 72% of the vote. During his first 100 days in office he posted his daily accomplishments.
Booker pledged to get more police on the streets to lower the crime and shootings. It is believed that this goal led a gang to plot for Booker’s assassination. The plot called for prisioners in four different prisons to disrupt and riot then the gang members not incarcerated to assassinate Booker at the same time. Somehow the plot was disrupted before it came to fruition.
Under Booker’s leadership private philanthropy to the City of Newark has attracted over $100 million in donations. Mark Zuckerberg and Oprah Winfrey and others are credited for donating millions to the city.