Cory Booker Answers “How Do You Want To Be Remembered?”

July 29, 2017

[great news! This is not a post on sexual assault!]

As you know I’ve been trying to catch up on this blog. And while I maybe have a handful (or a couple of handfuls?) more things to say about sexual assault and that story to feel like I’ve “closed out that chapter,” or what have you, I’m kinda (at least at this moment), tired of talking about it. So, for the time being, I wanted to talk about some other things instead. One of them being this amazing thing from a Cory Booker talk I went to.

As you know, I quite enjoy Cory Booker. And I’ve heard him talk a lot. So, sometimes little tidbits, stories, and inspirational quotes aren’t super new to me, because I listen and I’ve heard them before.

But at this talk he had in New Jersey (that I went to, because, I live all the way out here, why not?), he said he was pretty sure he hadn’t ever talked about this publicly. My ears perked up, and his new wisdom did not disappoint.

He said someone asked him, “How do you want to be remembered? What do you want your legacy to be?”

And he said, “I don’t think I’ll be remembered.”

And from there he talked about how he didn’t know the name of his great-great grandfather. (I don’t know mind. Do you know yours?) He explained that he doesn’t work to be remembered, because he thinks in 200 years, no one will know the name “Cory Booker.” But that ultimately, what we put in the world moves forward. He focuses on putting good energy in that can be felt and built upon.

He gave an example (a story he has told many times) about the lawyer who helped his family get a home. The lawyer had just started helping black families who were being discriminated against. It was a giant deal at the signing that a white family didn’t show up. I think a fight broke out. Cory’s dad was attacked by dog.

And later, when Cory was researching his book, he found a lot of people from his childhood to ask them questions, basically to fact check his own book. And he found the lawyer to see what his account was (since he’d always heard it from his dad).

And when he asked the lawyer why he chose to take on these kinds of cases (and potentially put himself in harm’s way and everything), the lawyer told him that he’d seen the march in Selma. And he told his law partner they had to go down there immediately and help. But they were just starting and didn’t have the money to do that. They couldn’t afford to shut their practice down for even one day. So, they decided, “If we can’t go do work there, we have to figure out how to do good work here.”

And Cory said that he didn’t know the name of barely any of the marchers. (Who could?) [He later learned the name of some in a medal ceremony celebrating them.]  But that the energy of those marchers radiated up to New Jersey and indirectly was responsible for his parents getting a house… which he then attributed to all being how he grew up in a nice life with good schools. He said had it not been for his parents and that lawyer, had he not gotten to live in that nice neighborhood and have all of the privileges that followed, that he potentially wouldn’t be a US Senator today.

He also compared it to how some of the stars we see are actually dead. But because of how long it takes light to travel that far, we are still it so many years later – and that maybe that’s how we as people could work too – that we radiate long after we’re gone.

And I just thought this was such an interesting concept. I feel that almost everyone at one point or another has thought, “How do I want to be remembered?” But I thought it was such a beautiful, mind-opening answer to hear, “I don’t think I will be remembered.”

[Another Cory Booker post coming soon!]

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