Newark Mayor Cory Booker brings 'conspiracy of love' to FDU

Newark Mayor Cory Booker shares personal and professional insights with students, faculty and staff at the College at Florham on March 21, 2012. (Photo by W. Scott Giglio)

By Kenna Caprio

Students assemble and wait on the steps of Hennessy Hall to greet Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Photographers shift their cameras and ready themselves.

A shiny black car pulls up and Mayor Booker hops out. He greets the students and Educational Opportunity Fund director Marjorie Hall before stepping right into the middle of a photo with the 70 plus students.

Cameras flash, once, twice, several times and the crowd disperses, heading inside to Lenfell Hall to hear Booker speak. He follows closely behind with his staff and Educational Opportunity Fund personnel.

Introductions are made and Booker ascends stairs to the stage. He jokes with the crowd that he will “try not to put anyone to sleep,” and says that he hopes the “lecture” will be interactive.

Then he begins to speak in earnest — weaving life advice together with personal stories — and in the process, further captivates the audience.

“Our histories are all intertwined,” he says. “And all of us are here (because of a) ‘conspiracy of love.’ (We are) interwoven, interconnected, interdependent.”

Booker explains that growing up, he and his brother came to understand through their parents that all they are and do, is possible because of the love that came before them. From family members to complete strangers, their kindness and love bind us, Booker contends.

His parents’ message continued to hit home for Booker as he met some of his mother Carolyn’s classmates during a college reunion at Fisk University in Tennessee. “What they did then, allows me to do what I’m doing now,” he says of the 1961 graduates who fought for civil rights.

And with that, he poses questions to the Fairleigh Dickinson University students in attendance, asking “What will this generation be known for? The Internet? When you’re gone, what kind of heat, energy will you give off?”

“Life isn’t always about the big moment, fight, election … it’s about the choice everyday to accept conditions as they are or to take responsibility for change,” Booker says.

The crowd responds enthusiastically with applause and a few questions are taken. Booker is presented with a bag of FDU swag and he poses for a few more pictures.

As he heads back to that shiny car with his staff, he runs into a small group of students and pauses. He shakes hands and says hello. Perhaps even this small gesture can incite more change.

Currently in his second term as mayor of Newark, Booker’s political career began in 1998 as he served as Newark’s Central Ward councilman for four years. He has been recognized in numerous magazines and media outlets, including being named to the 2011 Time 100, the magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

The lecture was coordinated by the Office of Student Life, Educational Opportunity Fund and Diversity Council. 

The EOF is a university- and state-sponsored program created in 1969 to ensure meaningful access to higher education for economically and educationally disadvantaged students. The fund assists low-income New Jersey residents who are capable and motivated but lack adequate preparation for college study. For more information, visit

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