U.S. Sen. Cory Booker
California Democratic Party State Convention
San Francisco, CA
June 1, 2019


Hello, California!

Hello, California!

I'm really honored to be standing here in the state of my mom, graduate of Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles. As a Stanford grad, I'll forgive her for going to U.S.C..

But this is a state that gave my family, a black family coming from Louisiana, a chance to make it.

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 off from what was just said.

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

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 drove 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 of windows trying to escape a fire in the Shirt Waist 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. Twelve 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 and 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 under 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 of 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 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 are still my neighbors who 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 blood level in their blood than Flint, MI.

We in this nation have to understand that across the street from where I live there's a drug treatment 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 people.

This is about who we are, and who we must be to each other. Ir'a not about us versus them or zero sum game politics. This is a referendum on love. It is 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. Where Martin Luther King was slaughtered, slain in Memphis, TN, 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 an 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 our hero was slain it says:

"Behold, here cometh a dreamer. Let us slay him and see what becomes of the dream."

Well I say it's our generation's turn to dream America a new again. It's time for us to have big dreams and defiant dreams, that everyone has healthcare, that every public school is funded, that we can be a nation where work has dignity. 

Let us dream again big and do the work, together, to take us to the mountaintop.

Thank you very much. God bless you. Thank you California.

Ed. notes: Booker delivered a strong speech, keying off the mass shooting yesterday in Virginia Beach. "We are seeing the normalization of mass murder in our country," Booker declared, but, he said, "we do nothing." He said, "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." More broadly, Booker said, "This is a referendum on who we are."

Harris  |  Booker  |  O'Rourke  |  Warren  ||  Gillibrand  |  Gabbard  |  Buttigieg  |  Swalwell  |   Klobuchar  |  Hickenlooper  |  Inslee  ||  Sanders  |  Castro  |  Delaney