New Jersey Senator Cory Booker will break from precedent and testify against his Senate colleague Jeff Sessions during Sessions’ confirmation hearing today.
This comes after Booker said in November that President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Sessions to the position of attorney general was “alarming.”
“[B]ased on my experience over three years of working with him, I am concerned that he possesses ideologies that are in conflict with basic tenets of the Justice Department’s mission,” Booker said in a statement at the time. “Not only has Senator Sessions been a staunch opponent of reforming the tragic shortcomings in our criminal justice system, he holds a number of views that are inconsistent with how most Americans believe justice should be applied under our Constitution.”
Booker is 47 years old, and he has served as a senator from New Jersey since 2013. Here’s what you need to know about his family.
1. His Parents Were Two of the First Black Executives For IBM
Cory Booker was raised in Harrington Park, New Jersey by Carolyn and Cary Booker. They were among the first black executives for IBM.
As Cory Booker has recounted in campaign speeches, his father, Cary Booker, was raised by a single mother in Hendersonville, North Carolina, and he shined shoes and worked in construction to pay his way through North Carolina College, according to NJ.com.
Cary and Carolyn met in Washington, D.C. and later decided to move the family to New Jersey.
Cary Booker died in 2013 at the age of 76 after a battle with Parkinson’s disease.
2. His Parents Were Once Denied Housing in a White Neighborhood
Cary and Carolyn Booker faced racial discrimination throughout their lives, particularly when they moved their family from Washington D.C. to New Jersey.
That’s because they were denied housing in Harrington Park, a predominantly white neighborhood. Every time they wanted to look at a house, they were told it was already sold, so they took their case to the Fair Housing Council; the council would then send in a white couple to test whether the house was actually sold, and eventually the Bookers were able to purchase a home in spite of the objections of their realtor, according to New Jersey attorney Hope A. Lang.
There was also one incident in which a realtor who refused to sell a home to Cary Booker let his dog loose on Cary when he came to the realtor’s office with a lawyer.
“He sicks a dog on my dad,” Booker once said during a speech, according to NJ.com. “Now, the size of the dog has changed over the years. My father now insists it was spawn from Hell, it was Cujo. My mom will whisper to me, ‘It was just Toto.’”
3. He Has a Close Relationship With His Mother
To this day, Cory Booker is very close to his mother Carolyn, and she can frequently be seen at his side at political events.
“I have a super mother,” Booker said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. “I’m not a super man or super mayor, but I have a super mother.”
In 2014, Booker honored his mom for her work with Links Inc., a national organization of African American women.
“I stand here because, as James Baldwin so eloquently said, children are not good at listening to their elders, but they never fail to imitate them,” Cory Booker.
Carolyn Booker also said at the time that Booker’s attendance “means a very happy Mother’s Day for me.”
4. He Has an Older Brother, Cary Booker II
Cory Booker has one brother: Cary Booker II, who is two years older than him. Cory says that when he was growing up, his brother was essentially a third parent.
“Cary is just two years older but always was one of my greatest guardians, mentors, teachers and friends,” Booker said of his brother in a Facebook post. “He is truly the epitome of a gentle man, one of the kinder people I know with a depth of goodness and decency in his soul that overflows endlessly into the world.”
Booker also recalled a story of when he was playing his first varsity football game in high school and was very upset by a referee’s call, yelling and screaming at him. Booker’s brother, Cary, pulled him aside and lectured him about not disrespecting authority figures.
“He dragged me back down field yelling at me about conduct, honor, and attitude: even if I was right about the catch, I was dead wrong in how I was behaving,” Booker said. “That was the first and last time I ever raised my voice, argued, or disrespected a referee, no matter how much I may have believed they got something wrong, in my football career. This is my big brother: a man who taught me about manhood; that strength is ultimately not about the physical or about how loud you raise your voice but about how honorable you are, how you treat others and by how well you exhibit grace in this world no matter what the circumstances.”
5. He Is Not Married
Cory Booker is currently not married. In 2013, the year he became a New Jersey senator, he was listed on Town and County’s Top 40 sexiest bachelors.
Booker said during his 2013 Senate race that he is straight and that the fact that he has not settled down with a partner brings him “great dismay,” according to The Washington Post. Booker generally does not respond to accusations that he is gay, saying “people who think I’m gay, some part of me thinks it’s wonderful. Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia. I love seeing on Twitter when someone says I’m gay, and I say, ‘So what does it matter if I am? So be it. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I’m straight.”
In September 2016, The New York Daily News reported that Booker is dating poet Cleo Wade.