Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker to deliver annual Kent Lecture on Feb. 16

Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker, known for his deep belief in service and social justice, will talk about “Empowering Urban America” at the 2012 George E. Kent Lecture at the University of Chicago. Sponsored by the University’s Organization of Black Students, the free, public lecture will begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16 in Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th St. Doors will open at 5 p.m.

Booker was elected mayor of New Jersey’s largest city in 2006, and re-elected in 2010, garnering the overwhelming majority of votes both times. Under Booker’s leadership, Newark set out to improve security and economic conditions for its citizens.

By July 1, 2008, Newark led the nation among large cities for reductions in shootings and murders, experiencing 40 percent drops in both categories through a transformation of the city’s police department and the citywide deployment of more than 100 surveillance cameras. Among other actions under Booker’s mayoralty, Newark committed to a $40 million transformation of the city’s parks and playgrounds via a new public-private partnership. The Booker administration also doubled affordable housing production.

Booker began his political career in 1998 after serving as staff attorney for Newark’s Urban Justice Center. As Newark’s Central Ward Councilman from 1998 to 2002, Booker rose to prominence after increasing public-housing security and building new playgrounds. This work set the foundation for his mayoral election and earned recognition in publications such as Time, Esquire, Black Enterprise and The New York Times Magazine.

Booker received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University, a bachelor’s degree in modern history from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and completed his law degree at Yale University.

The Kent Lecture honors George Kent, the former UChicago professor who taught in English Language and Literature from 1970 until his death in 1982. Each year, the Organization of Black Students brings a prominent member of the African American community to campus to speak on relevant social issues. Past speakers have included Cornel West, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Angela Davis, Nikki Giovanni and Gwendolyn Brooks.

People with disabilities should contact the Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities at (773) 702-8787 for special accommodations.