NEWARK, N.J. — Senator Cory Booker was educated at Stanford, Oxford and Yale, but he likes to say he got his real education at Brick Towers, the dilapidated and dangerous housing project in inner-city Newark where he spent eight years as a tenant—not by necessity, but by choice. Living in a 16th-floor apartment that often lacked heat, hot water and elevator service, among poor neighbors trapped on the slum side of the American Dream, this celebrated black prodigy from a comfortable white suburb took an extended tutorial in urban adversity. He got a firsthand introduction to the policy issues that drove his agenda as a city councilor, mayor and New Jersey senator, and will now drive his newly announced presidential campaign. Brick Towers is gone now, but on a chilly gray morning in January, Booker was back at the intersection it loomed over for decades, riffing on the difference between thinking about policy and experiencing it up close. He noted that his former neighbor from the towers, Shahad Smith, was gunned down at this very intersection last spring: “You hear debates about guns, but he was killed right here with an assault rifle.” The median household income around here is… Read full this story
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