Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, New Jersey, will be the 2008 Class Day speaker at Harvard Law School. Booker will address graduating students and their families on Wednesday, June 4, as part of Class Day exercises.
“We are extremely excited that Mr. Booker has accepted our invitation,” said Class Marshall Megan Ryan ’08.”His work as Newark’s mayor has been inspirational, showing one of the many ways law school graduates can make a difference in communities through public service. His use of unconventional strategies, such as living in Newark’s public housing projects for eight years to observe conditions first hand, shows that he is committed to improving the city of Newark in whatever way possible. He is a shining example of a new generation of politicians nationwide who are committed to making change, and we are delighted that he will be joining us as Class Day speaker this year.”
Elected to his post in 2006, Booker has worked to transform the city of Newark by reducing crime and increasing economic opportunity. A week into office, he announced a 100-day plan that included adding police officers, refurbishing police stations, improving city services, and expanding summer youth programs.
Booker’s political career began when he was elected to the Newark City Council in 1998, beating a four-term incumbent. Once on the Council, he used several unconventional strategies to get attention for his policies. He went on a 10-day hunger strike, living in a tent in front of one of Newark’s worst housing projects to protest open-air drug dealing. In 2000, Booker lived in a motor home for five months, parking on street corners known to be places where drug trafficking occurred. He ran and lost the race for Mayor in 2002, and subsequently founded and became director of Newark Now, a grassroots nonprofit group.
Booker earned a B.A. in political science and an M.A. in sociology from Stanford University. He was a Rhodes Scholar and studied at The Queen’s College, Oxford, where he earned an honors degree in modern history. In 1997, Booker earned his J.D. from Yale Law School. While in law school, he started and operated free legal clinics for New Haven residents. After law school, he served as a staff attorney for the Urban Justice Center in New York and program coordinator of the Newark Youth Project.
Recent Class Day speakers at HLS include the Honorable Guido Calabresi, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and former dean of Yale Law School, Linda Greenhouse, Pulitzer Prize winning legal writer, and former presidential adviser David Gergen ’67.