Charles Booker wears a noose in his Senate campaign video

The Kentucky Democratic U.S. Senate candidate explained his intention behind the video in a statement to theGrio.

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In his newly released campaign video, Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Charles Booker is wearing a noose in response to his Senate opponent, GOP Sen. Rand Paul, for opposing a federal hate crime bill. 

Paul, who is seeking re-election this year, blocked the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching law from being passed in 2020, CBS News reports. Booker’s shocking video starts with a shot of a noose hanging from a tree along with a warning.

March On Washington To Protest Police Brutality
Rep. Charles Booker (D-KY) speaks at the March on Washington on August 28, 2020 at the Lincoln Memorial. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images)

“The pain of our past persists to this day,” Booker says at the start of the clip. “In Kentucky, like many states throughout the South, lynching was a tool for terror. It was used to kill hopes for freedom.”

“It was used to kill my ancestors,” says Booker as he appears on camera with a noose around his neck. “Now, in an historic victory for our Commonwealth, I have become the first Black Kentuckian to receive the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.”

Booker then calls out Paul’s past controversial remarks about healthcare and the Civil Rights act. 

“My opponent? The very person who compared expanded healthcare to slavery. The person who said he would have opposed The Civil Rights Act. The person who single-handedly blocked an anti-lynching act from being federal law.” 

Booker continues to grip the noose as he says to the camera, “The choice couldn’t be clearer. Do we move forward together, or do we let politicians like Rand Paul forever hold us back and drive us apart?”

Reached by theGrio for comment, Booker explained his intention behind the video via email:

“I know this video will be jarring for some. I understand the sensitivity of this issue, and realize the visual will expose some wounds that have not healed up in our society. My hope is that the love and sincerity in my heart will push through that initial shock, and give viewers the chance to not just see my humanity as the first Black Kentuckian to be a major party nominee for the U.S. Senate, but to also understand just how important this campaign is in our broader mission to realize healing, justice, and democracy.

Continuing his email response, Booker said, “The power behind a movement is the ability to tell a story that can capture hearts, open minds, inspire, and challenge us to mobilize. Ultimately, so much of our progress as a country is blocked by our inability to face the pain and persistent ills of structural racism. An issue as painful as lynching is an important and compelling symbol of the trauma we try to ignore, while people like Rand Paul actively exploit that trauma to stir up confusion and ultimately protect the injustice and inequities that hold us all back. Our vision is one of Kentucky moving forward together. It’s a vision of Kentuckians from every part of our state realizing that our struggles are more common than they are different. And realizing that together, we have the power to make a change for now.”

Earlier this year, Paul co-sponsored an amended version of the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act. In March, the legislation passed both chambers and was signed into law by President Joe Biden. 

Also in a March op-ed published in the Louisville Courier-Journal, Paul explained why he agreed to sign an amendment to the original bill.

“It wasn’t a popular stand to slow this bill down, but I wanted to do it because, you know, I thought it was the right thing to do,” Paul told The Louisville Courier-Journal in an interview in February. “And in the end, I think the compromise language will hopefully keep us from incarcerating somebody for some kind of crime that’s not lynching.”

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