Joint Center Updates

U.S. Senator Cory Booker to be Honored at Joint Center Annual Gala Dinner

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Cory A. Booker, the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey and the first African American elected to the Senate since Barack Obama, will receive the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies’ highest award at the organization’s Annual Gala Dinner on June 25 at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C.

Having gained national acclaim for lowering Newark’s crime rate and bringing robust economic growth back to the city, as well as for his highly personal approach to public service, Senator Booker will be honored with the 2014 Louis E. Martin Great American Award, which is presented each year to an individual who is “an exemplar of change, progress and coalition-building across racial lines.”

The award is named after the legendary journalist, presidential confidant and co-founder of the Joint Center, a Washington think tank that has supported African-American leadership for more than four decades.  Previous honorees include former Presidents Jimmy Carter and William J. Clinton, Congressmen James E. Clyburn (D-SC), Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) and John Lewis (D-GA), civil rights leaders Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Dr. Dorothy I. Height and the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Muhammad Ali, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.  Last year’s recipient was Ambassador Susan E. Rice, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

A Rhodes Scholar who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and a law degree from Yale, Senator Booker won election to the U.S. Senate in October 2013 after serving seven years as mayor of New Jersey’s largest city, where, under his leadership, the city entered its biggest period of economic growth since the 1960s.  During his term, Newark also saw a decline in crime and increases in affordable housing, green spaces and parks, educational opportunities, and more efficient city services.

In an effort to tackle some of the root causes of poverty and hopelessness, Mayor Booker and his team created an innovative network of resources and programs for men and women coming home from incarceration, driving down recidivism rates for those involved.  He also attracted millions in charitable donations to put books in the hands of at-risk children and created a network of grassroots financial and family empowerment centers in 14 neighborhoods throughout Newark, helping working families keep more of what they make.

“With his intellect, his relentless drive, his commitment to innovation, and his common touch, Senator Booker is in the vanguard of a new generation of leaders who are breaking free of old orthodoxies in their efforts to serve their communities and our nation at large,”  said Spencer Overton, the Joint Center’s President and CEO.  “Honoring his achievements and highlighting his enormous potential as a national leader and policy innovator is a fitting way to emphasize the Joint Center’s focus on finding new approaches that can eliminate the disparities of opportunity that still exist in our land.”

Under the banner of “The Joint Center:  Ideas. Solutions. Change.,” the 2014 Annual Gala Dinner is the Joint Center’s major fundraising event of the year and provides an opportunity for a broad range of elected officials, and business, civic, and community leaders from across the country to celebrate the rise of African Americans in the nation’s political and civic life.

“Senator Booker’s dynamic and engaging approach to governance has been an inspiration to all of us who are looking for ideas and innovations that can address our country’s most difficult public policy challenges,” said Barbara Johnson, Chair of the Joint Center’s Board of Governors.  “His tireless devotion to public service and his hands-on tactical approach to developing solutions amount to an object lesson in how to build a better America.”

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Founded in 1970, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is a leading think tank on people of color and public policy.  The Joint Center uses research, analysis, and communications to improve the socioeconomic status and political participation of people of color, to promote relationships across racial lines, and to strengthen the nation’s pluralistic society.