In an ad entitled “Pain of our Past,” Charles Booker, a Kentucky state representative and Democratic nominee in Kentucky’s 2022 Senate race, shines a light on his ancestors’ painful history.
The ad evokes an emotional reaction, as Booker, who is challenging Sen. Rand Paul in November’s midterm election, can be seen wearing a noose around his neck as he calls for action.
The ad begins with a voiceover of the Democratic nominee saying, “The pain of our past persists to this day,” and a shot of a noose swinging back and forth as it hangs from a tree.
The noose is, of course, a reference to the age-old hateful practice of lynching.
Booker points to lynching as a “tool of terror” that existed throughout the South in states like Kentucky, KTLA sister station KTVX reports.
The ad continues, showing a black and white photo of a man hanging from a tree by his neck as a large crowd is gathered around, peering toward the camera.
“It was used to kill hopes for freedom, it was used to kill my ancestors,” he says as he appears on screen with a noose around his neck, wearing a suit fit for the Senate floor.
Booker is the first black Kentuckian to receive the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.
He cites his nomination as a “historic victory for our Commonwealth” before bringing up his opponent, Sen. Paul, who appears on screen giving a half-hearted smile.
Booker goes on, pointing to Paul as “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 single-handedly blocked an anti-lynching act from being Federal law,” all while a noose hanging around his neck as he stands by a tree.
The sounds of a tightening rope can be heard as Booker says, “The choice couldn’t be clearer.”
“In November, we will choose healing,” he says as he lifts the rope from around his neck. “We will choose Kentucky.”
Booker is a lifelong resident of Louisville’s West End, growing up in what has been one of the poorest zip codes in Kentucky, his website states.
It also says he has “been homeless” and has had to ration his insulin because he couldn’t afford the medication he needed as a Type 1 diabetic.
The Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate was first elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 2018, becoming the youngest black state legislator in nearly 90 years.