Booker Says America Must Take A 'Balanced' And 'Sobered' Look At Its History

WCBS 880 Newsroom
July 06, 2020 - 10:39 am

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — There has been a national reckoning on racism in the six weeks since George Floyd died when a Minneapolis police officer put a knee to his neck for more than eight minutes.

    Widespread demonstrations have led to police reform across the country and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is hopeful that the federal government will follow by passing its own bills.

    "A number of major police departments around the country have already started instituting reforms, we've seen state legislatures passing reforms that will bring about the safety of people within those communities and on a federal level, though we haven't passed major legislation, we've actually now seen over 230 Congress people and about 40 Senators all getting on bills that would literally, should they pass, eventually save lives in America. Progress is happening and hopefully the movement will sustain," Booker told WCBS 880's Steve Scott. 

    In recent weeks, statues of Confederate figures, prominent slave owners and other controversial figures throughout history have been toppled or defaced.

    Princeton University also recently removed former President Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school because of his “racist thinking and policies.” A petition has also been started to change the names of buildings that honor slave owners at Rutgers University. 

    Booker said it is the important for Americans to take a look at the country's past in order to advance progress.

    "This is a time when we need to balance people's impact on our history," Booker said. "Our Founding Fathers, most of them were slave owners, and I do not believe we should be taking down statues of Washington or Jefferson. We need to make sure we balance the totality of an individual's contribution. clearly Confederate leaders were people who sought to tear down our nation and turn us backwards. I think that we need to be looking at this, we need to be a nation that doesn't create a Disneyland version of our history, but creates a truth-telling and people need to be evaluated for the totality of their contributions to our country and to our country's advancement and I'm hopeful that we'll take a balanced and sobered looked at our history that will only make us all better as a country."

    Booker said he is proud of Princeton University for looking at the "totality" of Wilson's contributions in "moving America back."

    "I as all of us have a responsibility now to learn more about our history and understand it. Many of the names that we herald are actually people that don't comport or resonate with our common values as a country," Booker said. "This is a process that could be painful, but like we've seen in other nations where they have truth and reconciliation processes, it actually can lead us to greater understanding, greater accord and greater affirmation of our nation's core values and that's what I hope this process brings us. The more we know about our history, both it's retched dark corners as well as our heralded corners today, the only thing that can come from that process to me is healing, growth and ultimately a deeper commitment to the values which drive our nation to be a more perfect union in every generation."

    Listen to the full interview with Cory Booker above.

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