Cory Booker urges Philadelphia to “rise” on August 7
BY Music and Society Editor
Zooming down Route 495 after a day of work, the crimson glow of bumper-to-bumper tail-lights beneath the impenetrable storm clouds blanketing the sky almost felt symbolic of the darkened state of the nation. Earlier this month, two mass shootings left 31 people dead in two major cities. Perhaps it was me projecting, but the view that loomed over the Philly skyline thrust me into a self-reflective state of unexpected despair.
As I arrived in Fishtown, the skies opened up, rendering my puny umbrella useless, leaving me utterly drenched. Under any other circumstances I would have been upset, but I grinned and beared it as I entered The Fillmore. Immediately, I was greeted by smiling faces and felt a palpable energy of positivity radiating despite the damp discomfort. The audience was united for change, rallying behind a campaign they believed in— Cory 2020.
Presidential hopeful Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) made an appearance at a rally entitled “Philadelphia Rise” on Aug. 7. Feeling less like a political event and more like a rock concert, people of all ages— from infants to retired people— gathered with eager smiles and packed into Ajax Hall, a room in The Fillmore that can hold 3,000 people, to hear what the senator had to say. Taking the stage at around 7 p.m., Booker physically and figuratively towered over the audience, speaking colloquially but with intense passion and refinement.
He began his speech by addressing the recent shootings: a topic that weighed down heavily on the room. Openly upset about the tragedy, Booker used this as a plea and grounds for a promise to enact major gun reform legislation, should he be elected. Calling out congressional inactivity in the midst of repeated shootings across the country, Booker forcefully asserted that gun violence needs to end in the country, especially in schools.
Speaking of his own stake in the matter, Booker retold a story from his time as mayor of Newark, New Jersey when he held a teenage boy in his arms directly after he was shot in the chest, comforting him in his final moments before he perished. The fury and despair from this occurrence outwardly boiled over in Booker’s enlivened words.
Conversation regarding gun control was the primary facet of the rally, but Booker also addressed the “moral vandalism” of the current presidency and its rhetoric, outlined the urgency of the 2020 election and what’s at stake and the threats of white nationalism to this country.
While his words were mainly serious and determined, Booker had moments of joyful comedy in his speech. He joked with the audience that 2020 was not significant for the year of the election but the number of Democratic candidates. Booker also poked fun at those who have commented about his veganism.
“It’s embarrassing to get your butt kicked by a vegan,” Booker says.
To end his address, Booker left the audience on a high note, offering hope for our ability to unite as a nation as a result of this election cycle. Urging the audience to “stay faithful,” he encouraged us to take action and be engaged in order for us to “rise.”
As I waited to shake Booker’s hand after he spoke, his interaction with the man in front of me spoke volumes — perhaps more than the preceding speech. The man gave Booker a hug and said that he believed in him. Booker looked him straight in the eyes and everything seemed to pause.
“I believe in us,” Booker says.