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Charles Booker visits Berea on “Seeing Beyond the Boundary” convocation

Updated: Feb 19

Article by Mack Carmack and Austin Warren

 

Kentuckians from the hood or the holler most likely have heard—or even voted for—Charles Booker, a native of Louisville, Kentucky.Booker served in the Kentucky House of Representatives for the 43rd district from 2019 to 2021 as one of Kentucky’s youngest-ever black legislators. Following his work in the House, Booker ran for US Senate but ultimately lost to Amy McGrath in the Democratic primary.

 

On Thursday, February 8th, faculty, students, and community members of Berea gathered in Phelps Stokes to hear about Booker’s new plans post-legislature.


Image courtesy of Mack Carmack

Booker has been working alongside Kentucky Governor, Andy Beshear, in the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives as the director. In this role, Booker has had more time to connect with the local Kentucky community and do outreach work with both Republicans and Democrats.

 

Booker, who is currently taking a break from government and politics, has had a special opportunity to do outreach and coalition work through his organization: Hood to the Holler. He has written a book and starred in a documentary, both of which are titled “From the Hood to the Holler”.

 

Hood to the Holler aims to connect Kentuckians of all races, backgrounds, and demographics to work together to fight poverty, coal companies, and other issues all Kentuckians face.

 

Berea College typically holds a yearly Appalachian lecture convocation, and so the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center hosted Charles Booker for this year’s talk. During the convocation, Booker opened up to students about his experience growing up in one of the poorest zip codes in Kentucky and how he has grown to be a community activist and politician.

 

Rather than giving an inspirational speech, Booker motivated students to participate in grassroots work at the local level.

 

“You shouldn’t have to scream out for your humanity. You shouldn’t have to organize to fight against policies that are making it hard for people to keep a roof over their heads, or get the healthcare they need. You shouldn’t have to do that,” Booker said.

 

During his time in the Kentucky House of Representatives, he sponsored bills related to civil rights, the cost of insulin, worker’s compensation, and much more—many of which can be found here. Through his public service work outside of the Kentucky House of Representatives, Booker continues to champion ideas of compassion, unity, and rights for all.


Image courtesy of Mack Carmack

While Booker was on campus Thursday afternoon, he spent time visiting students in classes as well as attending a luncheon at the Appalachian Center. During that time, he answered students’ questions about his plans for his new coalition, and how he plans to bring the hood and the holler together.

 

Hood to the Holler contributes to myriad issues and hurdles stopping Kentuckians from coming together regardless of political affiliation, which include but are not limited to: voting rights, organization, community engagement, and racial justice.

 

So far, Hood to the Holler has reached out to 237,737 unregistered voters via email, created community surveys to assess the needs and wants of the community, identified an increasing number of desired policy changes relating to racial justice, and much more.

 

You can get involved with the Hood to the Holler coalition by visiting its website here. There, you can learn more about the coalition, resources it provides, and how to get involved in an initiative to unite Kentuckians from every hood to every holler.

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