BlackFacts Details

Booker, Cory (1969- )

Born in Washington, D.C. on April 27, 1969, Cory Booker is currently the United States Senator from New Jersey. Booker was raised in Harrington Park, New Jersey, a mostly white town where his parents Cary and Carolyn Booker, former civil rights activists and pioneer black executives at IBM, settled down. He attended Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan. Following his graduation he enrolled at Stanford University in California where he earned a B.A. in political science as well an M.A. in sociology. Booker played varsity football at Stanford and was named to the 1991 All-Pacific Ten Academic Team.  Booker was awarded a Rhodes scholarship, one of few student athletes to do so, and went on to study at The Queens College in Oxford, England where he garnered his third degree, Honors History in 1994.

Following his studies at Stanford and Oxford, Booker earned his J.D. from Yale Law School in Connecticut in 1997.  While there he volunteered as a big brother and was active in the Black Law Students Association. Though Booker was raised in affluence in New Jersey, following his graduation from Yale he moved to Brick Towers, a crime-ridden public housing project in Newark’s Central Ward.  He became a community organizer, urging his tenant neighbors to fight crime and demand improvements in the projects.  

From Brick Towers Booker, at age 29, upset a longtime incumbent to win a seat on the Newark City Council in 1998. His term on the council proved controversial.  He advocated school vouchers as part of a broad package of educational reform.  He went on a 10 day hunger strike, pitching a tent in front of the Sunset Pines Housing Project to protest open-air drug dealing. However, Booker was unable to make sufficient change from his city council post as his initiatives were often outvoted eight to one.

In 2002, Booker ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Newark against four term incumbent Sharpe James and was defeated 53 percent to 47 percent. He immediately proclaimed his intentions to campaign for the post again.