Cory Booker Gives Schooler Lecture

March 08, 2013

ALLIANCE, Ohio — Cory A. Booker, mayor of Newark, New Jersey, presented “How to Change the World with your Bare Hands” at the University of Mount Union’s Schooler Lecture on Wednesday.

Booker’s lecture illustrated the importance of transforming the world through love and compassion.

He shared that without the love and generosity of his family and friends, he would not be where he is today. Growing up, there were many people who did not let his family fail, and because of that, Booker felt he needed to continue that commitment.

“Their love is the reason I’m standing here right now,” Booker said.

When leaving home after college, Booker was energized with a sense of “mission” for America.

“Blessings should give you the ability to continue the fight for America,” he stated. “There is work to do, a struggle to engage in, sacrifices to make.”

In New Jersey, early in his career, Booker picked the most dangerous street to live on. When he first moved there, the amount of crime overwhelmed him. It wasn’t until he met a woman from his apartment building that he discovered that his perspective could change his actions. The woman taught him to look beyond the circumstances of the city and into hope. Booker explained that when we change our attitude about the world, we then have the power to change it.

“You can learn as much from a woman on the fifth floor of the projects as you can from a professor,” Booker said. “She told me that what you see outside of you is a reflection of what you have inside you. So much of change has nothing to do with what’s going on in the outside world, it has to do with who you are.”

Booker shared a story about a plane flight he took as a young man during which he sat by a woman with two small, crying children. Instead of looking at the flight as a bad experience, however, Booker made it a positive one, making conversation with the woman and playing games with her son. Years later, Booker received a letter from the woman thanking him for his kindness and offering to help with his campaign.

“It shows you the power that we all have — our attitude of the world will influence it,” he said.

When he took office as Mayor, he wasn’t overwhelmed, but instead was inspired. As of July 1, 2008, under Booker’s term as mayor, Newark led the nation among large cities for reductions in shootings and murders, achieving decreases of more than 40% reductions in both categories. Radical transformation of the Newark Police along with the deployment of more than 100 surveillance cameras throughout the city, has led to Newark setting the nationwide pace for crime reduction. Booker illustrated through Newark’s progress that teamwork and collaboration can create big outcomes.

“People want to define themselves by what and who they’re against,” he said. “We’re all Americans — we have more in common than what divides us.”

Booker said it’s important for people to step outside of their comfort zones to make changes.

“Great people help others to discover their own greatness. Great leaders help others to discover that they themselves must lead,” he said.

Booker noted that we are all here because of a “conspiracy of love,” reminding everyone of their responsibility in this world.

“We allow our inability to do everything to undermine our ability to do something,” he said. “The biggest thing I can do in any day is a small act of kindness.”

Booker concluded by encouraging the audience to work hard.

“Don’t start it if you’re not going to put your heart in it,” he said. “The harder you work, the universe has a way of giving you just what you need.

According to the Greater Talent Network, Booker took the oath of office as mayor of New Jersey’s largest city in July 2006 following a sweeping electoral victory and was re-elected for a second term in another overwhelming majority in 2010. Booker has a bold vision for the City of Newark, and the city’s mission is to set a national standard for urban transformation by marshaling its resources to achieve security, economic abundance and an environment that is nurturing and empowering for individuals and families.

Under Booker’s leadership, the City of Newark has committed to a $40 million transformation of the city’s parks and playgrounds through a groundbreaking public/private partnership. The Booker administration has also doubled affordable housing production within the last two years.

His political career began in 1998 after he served as staff attorney for the Urban Justice Center in Newark. He became prominent as Newark’s Central Ward Councilman. During his service from 1998-2002, he earned a reputation as a leader with innovative ideas and bold actions, setting a foundation for his leadership as mayor. He has been recognized by TIME as one of the 100 most influential people of 2011, Esquire, New Jersey Monthly as one of New Jersey’s top 40 under 40 and The New York Times Magazine.

He is committed to education, serving on numerous boards and advisory committees including Democrats for Education Reform, Columbia University Teachers’ College Board of Trustees and the Black Alliance for Educational Options. Booker earned Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from Stanford University, a Bachelor of Arts degree in modern history at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and completed his law degree at Yale University.

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