Photo of Cory Booker

Remarks at the California Democratic Party Convention in San Francisco

June 01, 2019

Hello California. Hello California! I'm really honored to be standing here in the state my mom graduated high school, in Los Angeles. As a Stanford grad, I'll forgive her for going to USC. But this is a state that gave my family, a black family coming from Louisiana, a chance to make. And I know we are having a lot of presidential candidates come up here today, but I want to step out from just talking about me and my vision and my plans. And really pick up from what was just said.

I live in an inner city community in an incredible city called Newark, New Jersey. I am so proud that I live in a neighborhood — it's a black and brown community and I've lived there for decades. It is below the poverty line. But we don't make the mistake of confusing wealth with work.

Just a few weeks ago, we had shootings in my neighborhood. Last year we had Shahad Smith killed with an assault rifle. There was a time in our country when people died and it rose the national conscience of our country to do things about the horrors. When four children died in a bombing in Birmingham, all Americans — black white from all backgrounds — changed civil rights legislation. When women were throwing themselves out windows trying to escape a fire in their Shirtwaist Factory, we responded as a nation and changed working conditions and workers' rights.

But here just yesterday, we had another mass shooting in our country. 12 Americans died. And we are seeing the normalization of mass murder in our country. In Las Vegas, people are slaughtered at a concert and we do nothing. In Pittsburgh, people slaughtered in a synagogue, we do nothing. In Orlando, people killed in a nightclub, we do nothing. In South Carolina people killed in a church, and we do nothing.

Our children, getting drills on how to hide underneath desks because children are being murdered in our schools, and we do nothing. It is time for us as a nation not to normalize the violence and the carnage of gun violence. It is time that we come together and stand together and take a fight to the NRA and the corporate gun lobby like we have never seen before. We can lead that fight and we can win.

I am like our ancestors, I am like you. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. And so let me tell you what this election is not about — you'll have time to hear from me over the next nine months going into Iowa but I want to tell you what this election is really about. It is not about one guy in one office. It is about a referendum on who we are and who we must be to each other.

Beating Donald Trump is a must. Beating Donald Trump is a must, but that is a floor, not a ceiling. We are bigger than that, we have greater ambitions than that.

I want to tell you right now, Democrats, this election cannot be about what we're against. It must be about what we're for. And I want to tell you: I want to beat Republicans. I want to beat Republicans but this election for us, it can't be the call to beat Republicans, it must be the call to unite Americans in common cause and common purpose to tear down the injustices that still exist.

Because I want to tell you all something, in my neighborhood, on my block, there's still my neighbors that work longer hours than my parents did. And when they go to the local bodega, they have to use food stamps because we have stripped the dignity from work in America. In my neighborhood, kids in some of our schools drink out of bottled water because there are millions of children in this nation that have twice the level in their blood than Flint, Michigan.

We in this nation have to understand that across the street from where I live there is a drug treatment center where the fellows who meet and tell their stories show that we are still a nation that treats mental illness and addiction with jail and prison and not treatment and health care.

This is a referendum on who we are. And let us remember the words of King. What we have to repent for is not just the vitriolic words and violent actions of the bad people, but the appalling silence and inaction of the good deeds. This is about who we are and who we must be to each other. It's not about us versus them, or zero sum game politics. This is a referendum on love. And it's a referendum on the beloved community. And so I want to end with this. I'll tell you a lot about myself on the campaign. But this is not a time for a savior. No one presidential candidate will solve our problems, we will do it together.

And so, this is the challenge of our generation. This is the challenge of our generation. When Martin Luther King was slaughtered, slain in Memphis, Tennessee, right there where he's killed, there is a saying that's a challenge to our generation. It's the words of Joseph's brothers who sought to kill their brother Joseph and throw him in a well to die. Well, those words are used as a challenge to our generation, for those who see where Martin Luther King was slain. And these are the words, right there where hero was slain, it says, Behold, here cometh the dreamer, let us slay him and see what becomes of the dream. Well, I say it's our generation's turn to dream America anew again. It's time for us to have victories and to fight.

Cory Booker, Remarks at the California Democratic Party Convention in San Francisco Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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