Talk of the Town

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Sen. Cory Booker talks people, places and politics in Atlanta


For Cory Booker, the junior senator from New Jersey, writing a memoir was one of the most difficult things he has done in his life.

"It was painful," said Booker by phone. "There were definitely dark moments."

But Booker, 46, said the process proved rewarding. Conducting interviews with the many people he has encountered and befriended throughout his life helped him reflect on and refine his own thoughts and ideas.

Booker is in town Saturday for a reading and signing of " United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good ," (Ballantine Books, $27).

The event, presented by A Cappella Books and the Progressive Readers Club, takes place at 7 p.m. at North Atlanta High School.

By now Booker's path to politics is fairly well-known. The D.C. native earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at Stanford University, became a Rhodes Scholar and earned a law degree at Yale University.

When he chose public service, he moved to Newark, New Jersey with a fellowship to assist tenants. By 1999, Booker was a member of the city council but felt as though he was failing to make real change -- in part, he now realizes, because of his sanctimonious attitude toward his colleagues. He considered quitting.

"What I have learned in life is that those times when you are broken and defeated, those end up being the most valuable moments of your life," Booker said. "It is easy to separate ourselves from the world and others. It is easy not to be engaged. I really believe we are a society that was made for love."

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Rugged individualism and self-reliance are important American values, he said, but they can only get us so far. "If you commit yourself to loving you are going to get your heart broken, but it is still the most reassuring way to go," said Booker. So he stuck with the people, the place and the profession that he loved.

In 2006, Booker served his first term as Mayor of Newark and in 2013, he won a special election and became New Jersey’s first African-American senator. The day he took oath, six days after the death of his father Cary, Booker found himself seated in the office of Rep. John Lewis as the senior politician served breakfast to Booker and his mother, Carolyn.

Grateful for the legion of supporters who have served as mentors and friends over the years, Booker said everyone can find heroes in their midst.

"When I talk to young people, I really do have this belief that if you live life with the greatest love, with faith, you will find tutors, mentors and teachers," he said.

Booker, who has been traveling the country in support of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, said individually and as a country we need to do better at working together.

He is disappointed when he hears candidates vilifying the American people or people of other nations.

"We are at our best when people are appealing to our hopes and intellect and our passion for our country," he said.

Booker hopes those who read his book gain a sense of entitlement.

"If they don’t like what they are seeing, the division in our country, they should feel they can do more about it," he said.

 

Event Details

When: 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 27

Where: North Atlanta High School, 4111 Northside Pkwy NW, Atlanta.

Tickets: $29 admits one with a copy of book (service fee is $2.44); $39 admits two with a copy of the book ($2.94 service fee). Tickets are available online at Freshtix.com . For additional information, visit acappellabooks.com .


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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.