LOUISVILLE, Ky. — State Rep. Charles Booker (D-Louisville) is channeling the energy from his historic run for U.S. Senate into a new advocacy organization.
What You Need To Know
Booker establishes Hood to the Holler to address racial injustice, empower future leaders, and more
Hood to the Holler also to focus on voter registration
Booker also plans to run for office again but won't say for which office
Booker and his grassroots campaign gave fundraising juggernaut Amy McGrath a run for her money in the closely-watched Democratic primary. He came up just short in the competitive race, earning 42.6 percent of the vote compared to McGrath’s 45.4 percent.
He emerged as a national voice in the protests calling for police reform and justice for Breonna Taylor, energizing Kentucky progressives “from the hood to the holler” – a phrase Booker used to connect voters from rural Appalachia to urban West Louisville. Booker, who grew up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in Louisville’s West End, says the term is personal to him and others who have lived much of their lives feeling invisible.
“A lot of decisions are made at us, about us, we’re stats on a paper but we’re not in the room leading the way, and that’s a common thread across Kentucky,” Booker explained. “From the Hood to the Holler is about family. From the hood to the holler and everywhere in between, we’re coming together.”
Booker recently turned the rallying cry into the namesake of a 501(c)4 advocacy organization, founding Hood to the Holler to address generational poverty and racial injustice, empower future leaders, and break down the barriers to democratic participation.
“This is about understanding that poverty, lack of opportunities, families that are just wondering what’s next for them – this doesn’t have to be,” Booker said. “Poverty is not a moral failing; it’s a policy choice, and if we have leaders that know that if we invest in people, we uplift them, we tell the real stories – then we can push for structural change, and so I’m excited about the momentum […] and Hood to the Holler is going to help ignite that.”
Hood to the Holler will work to make voting easier and register more people, tell the story of generational poverty, and advocate for police reform – something taking center stage in the protests demanding justice for Breonna Taylor.
“Justice for Breonna Taylor is not only about accountability in the incident that took her life, it’s also about investing in our communities and dealing with the institutional and structural racism that allows incidents like that to even happen,” explained Booker. “It means that we are finally committed to the people of Kentucky, and that we’re not gonna look away anymore. The fact that we’re dealing with concentrated poverty and the issues of gentrification is because communities have been abandoned. Justice for Breonna means we’re not gonna do that anymore.”
By bringing hope to the hopeless and empowering Kentucky’s “forgotten," Hood to the Holler hopes to uplift marginalized communities across the commonwealth. Booker says the organization plans to hit the ground running all across Kentucky in the next 120 days, beginning with a widespread voter registration push.
Booker says his work in the political arena isn’t over, but he’s keeping plans for the future close to his chest. Booker said he would hit the campaign trail again someday but stopped short of saying if there is a particular office on which he has his sights set.
“I know I haven’t run my last race, but now I’m committed on building and inspiring and uniting and creating new networks across Kentucky so that more leaders can step up and stand up. So, I’m committed to Hood to the Holler,” Booker said. “I’m going to be praying on that and talking to my family about what’s next, but I would say keep an eye on me because I know I’m not done.”
Booker also isn't counting out a bid for mayor of Louisville.
“Well you know, I will never count anything out because I never thought I would run for U.S. Senate. I know we have work to do all across Kentucky and we have to break barriers down and we need new leaders and I’m a part of that. I know that I have a job to carry the torch as well, that folks like John Lewis helped to pass off. And so, you’ll keep seeing me. You’ll keep hearing me for sure," he said.