This story references graphic imagery that could be offensive or disturbing to some readers.
In March, Congress finally passed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, making lynching a federal hate crime after 200 failed attempts. One of the more recent roadblocks was in 2020 when Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked this from happening sooner.
In his first ad since becoming the first Black Kentuckian to receive a Democratic nomination for Senate, candidate Charles Booker not only speaks to Sen. Paul’s previous opposition to the bill, but also wears a noose to demonstrate America’s horrible history of lynching.
“The pain of our past persists to this day,” Booker says in a voiceover as his ad begins, showing a historic lynching photo and a noose hanging from the limb of a tree. “In Kentucky, like many states throughout the South, lynching was a tool of terror. It was used to kill hopes for freedom.
“It was used to kill my ancestors,” Booker says as he appears onscreen, standing next to a tree with a noose looped around his neck.
“Now, in a historic victory for our commonwealth, I have become the first Black Kentuckian to receive the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.”
Booker then went on to make contrasts regarding his Republican opponent heading towards the November election.
“My opponent?” he says as an image of Paul appears. “The very person who compared expanded health care to slavery. The person who said he would have opposed the Civil Rights Act. The person who singlehandedly blocked an antilynching act from being federal law.”
“The choice couldn’t be clearer,” Booker continues over the resounding creak of a rope, shown in close-up, before he appears onscreen with his hands gripping the noose. “Do we move forward together? Or do we let politicians like Rand Paul forever hold us back and drive us apart?
While Sen. Paul placed a hold on the 2020 version of the bill, he went on to cosponsor a new version of the Emmett Till Antilynching Act that Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), introduced. An early January poll speaking with 625 registered Kentucky voters indicated Sen. Paul currently has a lead over Booker. This might be a race to watch if Democrats want to widen their slim Senate majority.