Charles Booker addresses supporters in Paducah on June 14th.
Kentuckian Profile of Courage Fighting for the Soul of America
Soft winds, at the end of the day (Sunday June 13), engulfed all who stood before them. Massive 50 ft. tall ancient trees grabbed the air with clanging shadows. So stood the newest battleground, for 21st Century American liberty.
Geography of place
On the map, it was called 7th Street, Paducah, KY. In reality, this ground existed in two worlds for this afternoon. One world was the reality of "Order" within society. The other reality was "those who would bring a new order" to life to rule the street.
Only 40 ft. separated these worlds. From curb to curb, this geography of concrete and asphalt became a "new brick being place in the current rebuilding of the path forward for America."
On this weekend, major cities from coast to coast would suffer massive waves of protest, fires, and more police killings of black people. Going on three weeks of protest, a sense of "something stirring within the body politic of this 244 year old nation.
Under the watchful presence of old trees, stood a small army of souls. They sought the words of a fighter, a preacher, a visionary, a leader to offer them a chance of dreaming about what could be instead of what was.
They came out to witness and take heart of a man from far away. This man had made the 300 plus mile trip from Louisville, KY. down to Paducah to stand before the gathering and to offer up his dreams of a new tomorrow.
This man had reached Paducah by way of Prestonsburg, Whitesburg, Lexington, Bowling Green, Owensboro, Hopkinsville and Louisville. In each community the story and power of his feelings were the same. On average, some 200 to 300 people came out to see and hear him at each gathering.
Optics and Power Symbols
To mention the power of these events is to understand that there was no food served or available as has often been the legacy of major statewide candidates like Wendell Ford and Julian Carroll. Use to be that good food set the stage for bringing the people together as if this was to be a true "little (d) Democratic event.
Those days are rapidly fading into a new set of geopolitical rules of engagement of candidates to the voters. This new world of politics is about issues, passion, media connections, organizational plans, urban voting patterns, and zip codes of intense poverty. This Paducah event, like the other Booker campaign stops was about optics and power symbols. Without missing a step, the energized Candidate Booker bounced from his open door of the car to take control of about 8 square ft. of street, just in front of the street curb.
His name was Charles Booker. For 38 minutes, in the heat of a receding sun of the day, reaching out his voice to them through the power of a megaphone, wiping his forehead to keep the sweat from flowing into his eyes, he spoke.
Symbol no. 1: command of sound and voice.
The megaphone gave him total command over the sound of the area. His voice travel well into the crowd, over some 100 ft. away, with full impact.
Symbol no. 2: Passion of message.
About 500 words of his speech highlighted major wrongs of the current state of politics, and ways to change the rules in order to give more power to the people.
Symbol no. 3: Optics of Media Opportunity.
When lost in a crowd of political supporters and or protesters, always follow the TV camera crews, radio reporters, and print media photographers. These elements of the political process always seem to have an inner compass for finding the action and the candidate.
So it was to be on this event. The moment that Booker arrived on the scene, media went to work surrounding him for their stories. This crowd today in Paducah involved local TV cameras, 3 print and online newspapers, and about 20 ad hoc photographers.
Yet, there was one crew with very expensive microphones and cameras that stood quietly to the side of center stage. Their style of photography and camera angles seem to mark them as "opposition pro's" sent in to gain footage for possible future attack ads. The manner of wide angle and close-up of the people within the crowd would seem to be possible database for facial recognition software that could ID potential voters or organizations. Only the National Republican Party or Senator McConnell could afford this type of direct candidate coverage.
Symbol no. 4: Flags, banners, and signs.
In olden days of kings and empires, battles were often won or lost as to how men-at-arms followed their leaders on the battlefield. Flash forward to our time and "political battlefields." Running for modern political offices in wide state or regional battlefields still employ flash points of direct contact of people and or ideas. Often, for the sake of the evening news cycles, flags, banners, and signs are filmed for their social and political transfer of power impact potential.
The best example of this approach has been the picnic at Fancy Farm, KY. On average in a normal year, some 20,000 lbs of pork is cooked into special BarQ. This food is consumed by crowds of 5,000 to 8,000 people. In one day of political speaking and candidate arguing over issues, under the roof of the outdoor pavilion, often several hundred signs are displayed. Most of these signs and banners are typical hand made with color pens and cardboard.
This crowd of 200 individuals facing Charles Booker had about 80 hand made signs. For the candidate this meant that his message was now being repeated and defined by each person from a household, where voters and supporters lived. They were personalizing the campaign values into power statements.
Symbol no. 5: Empowering your base.
Great Kentuckian political legends excited voters with their own brand of "firing up the crowd." Governor Wendell ford did it on the stage of a large outdoor flatbed truck. Governor Jillian Carroll did it in massive union halls gatherings. Governor Wallace Wilkinson did it with new media and new issues. Governor John Brown took the state with the tools of glamour from his wife to his helicopters image impact on the small town campaign trail.
These were tactics form a different century. Now, in this moment, a new type of voter connection is being developed.
Starting at about 28 minutes into his remarks, Charles Booker "captured lighting inside a bottle." Leaning into the energy of the moment, Booker spoke of how this was now the time for action, for making a statement, for solidarity with the unfolding national protest and events of truth against the power structure. In earlier times in far off lands, his words would be considered the words of revolution. But today, in this spot, at this time, his words offered up hope and showed a path forward, for direct action for the people being left behind.
The exact moment when he gave political and social power to the many individuals gather beneath the tall trees was when raised his fist, high into the sky above his head. His words now asked if they wanted to join with him, in a common bond for reform and change of their government.
The image of almost 200 clenched fists being raised in unison with him was the stuff of legends for future historians to mark the day that Paducah, KY. joined in common spirit as a new battlefield to reclaim the rights of all men, in a national season of protest and change.
On the stage of street curbs and pavement, Charles Booker gave permission for all there that day to dream again. He gave blessing for passion to speak to power. He offered everyone the chance to become something larger than their normal lives. He sanction the peoples right to a free society in which all are not judge on their wealth, or color of skin.
The timeframe for the collection of 200 individuals to merge into a single force, for reform, took about 4 minutes. Their clenched fists being held high into the early evening sky spoke volumes of common cause.
Charles Booker turned and led this group about ½ mile up the street to the entrance of the Metropolitan Hotel. Here the crowd witnessed more speeches about the heritage of black history.
As the sun's light faded, the air in this part of Paducah was some how different. It crackled with the raw emotional energies of people who had now enjoined with one man's vision for reform. All who gathered here this day did so at personal threats of danger from white hate groups who threaten to harm the protest.
Profile in Courage
On this day, Charles Booker invoked the idealism of a young Senator in 1955 who wrote about individual courage in face of overwhelming issues. In his book, Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy wrote about "one of the most significant and agonizing aspects of public life: the need in times of crisis to rise above regional or special allegiance, sometimes even to defy the wishes of constituents in order to follow the dictates of individual conscience on questions of national interest."
History will note that this event ended a remarkable week series of political events in the story of one Kentucky voice which triggered statewide attention for change and reform.
This intense timeline included (1) Booker winning the KET (KY. Educational TV) Senate Campaign Debate (2) trying to calm down Louisville Protest (3) appearances on MSNBC national Up with Hales and Katie DC (4) Lexington Herald Newspaper (2nd largest in KY) endorsing Charles Booker for Democratic Primary (5) East KY Campaign Road Trip to Pikeville, Whitesburg (6) more work in the streets of Louisville to calm events down (7) Louisville Courier Journal (number 1 newspaper circulation in KY) endorsement for KY Senate Democratic Primary (8) West KY Road Trip with stops at Bowling Green, Owensboro, Hopkinsville, and Paducah.
By the time, on Sunday, when the Booker Machine hit Paducah, it was in full overdrive momentum. All events were breaking toward him. There was building a strong people awareness of him as a man as a candidate.
Louisville Courier Journal Endorsement
In their endorsement of Charles Booker, the Courier Journal Editorial profiled the reason for selecting him. "...at its core, Booker's policy platform has the same goals as other Democratic candidates: uplifting all Kentuckians so we have a chance at being healthy, modernizing our crumbling infrastructure to attract more companies, creating jobs that pay a living wage so poverty is a rarity, not the norm, and finding energy solutions that leave the planet in good shape for our kids, grand kids and great grand kids.
As Booker said in this interview, "We need system-level change in our commonwealth. I have lived the struggle that a lot of politicians just talk about and Mitch McConnell denies even exists. And I have used that pain, that frustration, my faith, my hope to go to work for Kentuckians."
(Courier Journal) It's time we empower officials with firsthand experience, not just secondhand knowledge.
Booker's vision for Kentucky and the United States is bold, progressive, positive and passionate. We believe he's the strongest in this field of democrats in Kentucky's June 23 primary and encourage voters to look closely at his record and vision for our commonwealth."
Enough words, go vote for Kentucky's future!