Black women told y’all in 2016, and we’ll do it again in 2020—the Black woman’s vote is crucial.

Thankfully, 2020 presidential candidates like Cory Booker recognize and understand the importance of the role Black women have played, and will continue to play, in changing the country for the better.

“Well, first of all, Black women are the highest percent voters out there,” Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker says. “They went out and voted rates that we don’t see in any other demographic…” 

In fact, more than 70% of Black women voted in 2012, out-voting white women (65.6%), white men (62.6%), and Black men (61.4%). Based on the available exit poll data from the Democratic primaries in 2016, Black women continue to make up a larger proportion of the Democratic electorate than Black men.

For Booker, who is incredibility inspired by Black women, this is no threat — but a beacon of hope for the future. In fact, it’s a blessing that he recognizes was hugely influenced by his upbringing.

Sen. Cory Booker credits his mother to the man he is today, but there’s also another woman in his life who shares that responsibility.

“I always say I got my BA from Stanford, but my PhD on the streets of Newark,” he shared with “Yes, Girl” podcast hosts Cori Murray and Charli Penn. “I met a woman named Ms. Virginia Jones, who I just mentioned here at this incredible 25th Essence Fest, and basically she goes, ‘Look around this neighborhood, and tell me what you see.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, I see the crack house, I see the…,’ I just described the projects. And she goes, ‘Well, you could never help me,’ and I go, ‘What do you mean?’ She goes, ‘The world you see outside of you is a reflection of what you have inside of you. If you only sees problems in darkness and despair, that’s all there’s ever going to be, but if you’re stubborn and every time you open your eyes, you see love, you see the face of God, beauty, then you could help me.'”

The words of wisdom that he received from her didn’t just stop there. The longstanding relationship lasted over five years and proved to be very transformative in shaping Booker into the man he is today.

“She never [mistook] wealth for worth,” Booker concluded. “She knew the potential. So if I walked you back then in the ’90s, and now walked you in 2019 you would see Black female owned businesses in my community thriving. You would see new parks, new high schools, you would see new housing; and people always tell me, ‘Oh, you should be proud of what you did as mayor.” I go, ‘No, we’re seeing this now because people like Ms. Jones saw this then.’ They never gave up on their community. They had a defiant love, and so the reason why I still live there, if you want to boil it down to one thing, I didn’t think I’d get into politics. It was Ms. Jones that made me, and the whole bunch tent leaders told me to run for city council.”

Needless to say, Booker is committed to Black women. Not only is he impacted by the Black women in his life, but those that came before.

“Well I mean, my icon, her statute has sat on every desk I’ve had from City Hall to the Capital of the United States is Harriet Tubman,” he spills to Cori and Charli. “She’s like my model, because if she would have died, we wouldn’t have known who she was if somebody at the end of her life didn’t interview her or write a book about her.”

Hear more from Yes, Girl!’s exclusive conversation with Senator Booker in the clip above.

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