In October 2006, Mayor Booker celebrated his 100th day in office. Critics have called him "too idealistic," but the mission statement he set forth on day one remains the same. "We are going to make Newark, New Jersey, the national example of urban transformation," he says.
Recently, Mayor Booker began mentoring two teenagers who allegedly wrote "Kill Cory Booker" on a wall. He says he made a pledge to these teens that if they live up to certain standards, he'll live up to their expectations.
The teens accompany him to bookstores, movies and restaurants, but they must abide by the mayor's strict rules. "The first thing I said is, 'You've got to dress properly. You've got to cut your hair. ... People judge you on how you present yourself,'" he says. "'And you have to speak proper English. I can't deal with the double negatives and the slang. You have to speak the English of Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. DuBois [and] Booker T. Washington.'"
Despite a few setbacks—like dealing with death threats—Mayor Booker believes he can turn his city around. "I'm in this fight, and we can do it," he says. "This country's whole history is a perpetual testimony to the achievement of the impossible."