From the Hood to the Holler with Charles Booker
March 9, 2021

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We talk with Kentucky’s progressive phenom, Charles Booker, about his goals for his new organization – Hood to the Holler – and how to win over voters in rural America. We love Kentucky. Kentucky is an important part of Appalachia. We really enjoyed talking with Charles Booker about his Kentucky roots and are excited to share this with y’all.

Intro – riffing on AOC, Texas, and much more

Chuck: John, I’m going to walk you through how AOC has given us all cancer. Got it. Okay. You ready for this? That’s Alexandria Ocasio Cortez for those listening at home, as you know, the main cause of the outages in Texas this past week were windmills. That’s what you were told, right? Yeah. They were freezing. Yes.

When those cause uh, the majority of the. The humongous state of Texas relies on wind energy and definitely not fossil fuels, which is the chief industry in that state. Well, that’s what Fox News would have you believe. And so my, what, they’re building a narrative around right now, and I’m telling you this, you’re going to hear it here.

First is that Alexandria Ocasio, Cortez AOC gave us all cancer because, and here’s why windmills exists because of the green new deal. Which has also been something they’ve been [00:01:00] tripping, which mind you, John is not a law. It’s not even really a bill. It’s a concept that is very loosely defined and has a handful of stuff in there about clean energy.

We will, we will take that fact and we’re gonna put it aside right now. It’s not important to us. And if you’ll remember our dear leader, former president Trump, uh, astutely proclaimed that windmills cause cancer. Now what I’ve learned from Q Anon is you gotta read into it. And I read the fuck into this, and I will [00:02:00] tell you windmills windmill, wind farm, wind turbine cancer, wind farm green, new deal.

AOC. What is he trying to tell us? The Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is going to give us cancer. 

Big John: I, yeah, I look, I I’ve been thinking about this too. Uh, here we, have you ever met a person who has lung cancer check? Who didn’t breathe in the air out. 

Chuck: I can’t say that. I’ve asked that question to all 

Big John: of them.

Exactly. Because we’ve never thought about it, right. They all breathe that air. Where is that air coming from? The large fans, which are windmills. Spraying us with cancer as we take it in and we all get cancer and we all end up like 

Chuck: running. Yeah, I do. And you know what, that’s the casualty to all of this it’s great point rush Limbaugh.

[00:03:00] Uh, he did die and his casualty was a product of the green new deal, John, which. It was all in the plan for AOC. I mean, look, I’ve tried to get her on the show to talk about this. She’s a little coy about it, but that’s fine. It’s indisputable. And we’re here to say we’re for it. At least me. I’m not, I don’t want to speak for you.

You’re, you know, you’re an independent operator and all of this, but I’m like, yeah. All right, fine. Let’s do it. I 

Big John: have a theory. Okay. I, I think that AOC can not come on the show because AOC. Is coral marks. Have you, have you ever seen them in the same room together? No, 

Chuck: I haven’t. It’s a good point. It’s great.

Fucking point. 

Big John: Thank you. I’ve been thinking this my whole, the whole time she’s been an office. I’m like, wait a second. I’ve never seen them in the same way. 

Chuck: I mean, if you think about it, a C the letter C is kind of like a K, but missing the left [00:04:00] side left left of the party. Karl Marx a O 

Big John: K. And she’s always talking about her high marks in school.

Chuck: We’re going down a path here. I don’t know, man. It’s rough. This is literally 

Big John: out. Curated on, 

Chuck: comes up. I know it, it it’s absolutely. Look, this is, this is a strategy session. If you’re a Marjorie Taylor green, I mean for 100%, but uh, our thoughts go out to people in Texas because they’re getting fucked over royally by their government.

And, uh, they have some insensitive politicians there that like to say things like, well, this is the price you pay for having. The government not intruding in your power grid and regulating the hell out of you to which I say. Fuck you. I’m not even from Texas, but fuck you. I just, 

Big John: everyone saw this coming everybody, except the people in charge of Texas.

[00:05:00] Chuck: I think they saw it coming too. They just saw the dollar signs coming faster. You 

Big John: deregulate something created to privatization and then watch when the money comes into your pockets because you don’t care about the people on the ground. Cause. You can leave – just literally like Ted Cruz get up and walk out.

You have the power. 

Chuck: That guy is a world-class dumb ass. I don’t get, you know, he’s not. A political idiot, so to speak, he wasn’t, at least before this, he wasn’t, he, he was not like the judgment call on this just for my optics point. And for people who aren’t, who aren’t cute in, uh, because they don’t spend their lives on Twitter.

Ted Cruz decided that when the power went out at his house and whereas he lived in Houston, Dallas, one of those major cities in Texas that, you know, he decided he would take his family and do the only reasonable thing that a [00:06:00] Senator from Texas would do is escape to Mexico. Yes. He took a flight to canned Coon because, uh, they, they have this, their favorite place.

The Ritz Carlton booked a couple rooms there for the cheap price of 300 bucks a night and said the hell with this whole Texas thing, let’s go to Mexico. And, uh, and he did, and then got just roasted beyond belief. And, uh, and he turned around and came back the next day. I believe 

Big John: Ted Cruz crossed the border to allow his family to have a better life.

Yep. 

Chuck: He did. 

Big John: Uh, this is, uh, this shit blows my mind. Like, uh, the, the fact is, yeah, you’re right. Ted, Ted Cruz is a lot of things, right. Like obviously, but he’s not. He’s not dumb when it comes to politics, you don’t win re-election for the United States Senate. If you’re dumb, you usually are pretty good at politics, or you have a really good team.

Whoever thought this was a good idea, [00:07:00] or, you know, maybe he just didn’t tell anybody on his team. This to me is, is one Oh one. This is, this is as bad as Trump going in and tossing paper towels at people. My 

Chuck: theory is that he thought he could get away with it. Cause he’d be wearing a mask and people wouldn’t recognize him.

But man, welcome to the internet. My friend, it is unforgiving. 

It shook the rich Carlton y’all want to come. They’re like, ah, [00:08:00] Nope. Don’t think we’re going to be majorly gas holes like you CN. And somebody leaked it to the, whoever the press or whatever. And that’s how they really validated it. But man, you got to admire just like how much this dude is. Hate it. 

Big John: I am convinced Heidi leaked it.

I’m convinced that she did it. 

Chuck: I don’t know, man. She’s. Why would she, what, what incentive is that for her? She’s 

Big John: sick of his shit. Then 

Chuck: I can divorce them. There’s there is so many more things that you can do than ruin your own trip to Cancun. 

Big John: You can still love somebody and not want them to be in a position of power.

Like they’re in. Maybe she thinks it’s gotten to his head. Maybe it’s like, hear me out in X-Men when Jean grey becomes the Phoenix and Scott AK Cyclops is like, wait, Jean, you’re still in there. But we got to get past the Phoenix first. I think that’s what’s [00:09:00] going on here. She is trying to get past the Trumpism that has taken over Ted 

Chuck: Cruz.

It was, I’m just not buying it. I that’s a, it’s a decent theory. I’ll give you that to decent 

Big John: theory. I just wanted to talk about X-Men. 

Chuck: Um, well, Okay. I mean, Hey, you know, if that’s what you want to do, it’s, it’s 50% your show. So I can’t, I can’t talk about it with you cause I don’t watch it, but I’m here for 

Big John: Taylor and I watched every single one of them recently.

Chuck: It’s fun. I mean, speaking of X-Men boy, do we have a. I don’t, I don’t even know enough about X-Men to make a reference. I’ll go with your speaking of X-Men. We have a super Bureau of a show that was John’s John’s words. They’re two new patrons. John, who are they? 

Big John: We’ve got Matt and we’ve got Chelsea. Thank you so much for joining the Patrion.

Uh, it is because of you that we have these really cool new microphones that we’re talking into right now.

[00:10:00] Chuck: SMR 

Big John: for everybody who’s purchased a shirt or a hoodie or anything else. Uh, the, we have put all of the money towards this, uh, so that we can make this better for everybody. 

Chuck: We have not put all the money towards this. We in fact have a lot leftover, Oh, 

Big John: I’m not allowed to handle the money. So I just, uh, it’s funny.

I am, this is exactly how I also have like, uh, no. Access to our bank account with my wife. Like she handles everything. So literally in my life, I literally handled no finances. 

Chuck: John just has 

Big John: handlers for my job. My entire job is handling millions of dollars for five nights. 

Chuck: That’s it? There’s a lot of irony there that is for sure.

Well, speaking of millions of dollars of finance being handled are exclusive today. Kind of relates to that and that there’s money wrapped up in [00:11:00] electricity. Uh, we’re talking about what is it, John, do you want to explain it? It was your idea. We’re going to talk 

Big John: about, uh, how people are starting to finally understand what Appalachians have been saying for years.

Chuck: That’s the teaser. What will it be about, I guess she’ll have to find out by joining the patriotic 

Big John: patrion.com/chat pod. Latcha. 

Chuck: There it is. There it is. And, uh, well with that, let’s, let’s, let’s talk about our interview today. John’s a big one. It’s a big an RA, a powerhouse from Louisville Louisville. Am I people from Kentucky?

You can correct me if I say that wrong Louisville, Louisville powerhouse from Louisville, Charles Booker. Legend himself ran against Amy McGrath started a movement of progressives in Kentucky. After his a narrow defeat. He started an organization called hood to the holler. That’s building coalition throughout the state.

And, uh, we talk a little bit about that in the interview and a little bit [00:12:00] about him and, uh, he teases out a little bit about a potential political future. We’re not really sure, but, uh, there’s some hinting around, I don’t think he’s going anywhere anytime soon. 

Big John: This is, this is a big get, this is a, I say that most of the time anymore.

Cause half the time, like, I don’t know how we get these people, but, but Charles is a. Uh, not you Charles, but this Charles great name though, is, uh, one of the most impressive guests we’ve ever had. Uh, I learned a ton just talking to him, uh, and, and I really think people are going to enjoy this. And he’s like, besides like Tyler Childers, he’s like the most requested guest we have.

Chuck: That is true. 

Chuck: a lot. I wasn’t tracking numbers, but I’d say it’s close. He’s a, he’s really impressive. And, uh, one thing though, I did want to mention before we start the interview and I meant to say this in the interview, but we referenced something called the Southern [00:13:00] strategy in the interview.

The Southern strategy was a very, very racist electoral strategy. Republicans in the Nixon era employed it to essentially build a white coalition in the South to win back parts, of that part of the country.

So it was, it was very terrible, very racist. Uh, but it was unfortunately effective. And so that is what we were referring to when we were talking about Southern strategy. Kentucky was certainly a victim of the southern strategy as were other Appalachian states.

We’ve been discussing Kentucky a lot lately – and with good reason, because Kentucky is an important part of Appalachia.

Interview with Charles Booker

Big John: Yeah. I, I’m going to obviously, uh, we’re going to focus a lot on, on what you’re doing currently. Uh, but I do have to, I have to ask real quick, uh, one political question at least. And it’s, it’s nothing like way out there.

Right? You’re obviously a progressive Democrat who is pretty well known in Kentucky. Yeah, it seems to be a disconnect between Democrats and rural Americans, as you know, specifically in Appalachia. How do you think as a progressive Democrat that the Democrats can kind of re-engage those people and start to trust the democratic party?

Charles Booker: Yeah, honestly, that’s, that’s at the center of the work, you know, and it’s not even really a partisan thing cause. Like in an urban area where I’m at, um, you know, in the hood and whereas largely Democrat representatives, we never see Republicans. Um, and so, you know, sort of [00:15:00] like the inverse of that question in the way I always answered this, we got to meet people where they are, you know, and we have to sort of get out of our parts and corners and understand our common bonds and that we’re in the same fight.

And if we fight together for a future, we believe in a vision that we can rally around. That stuff. Isn’t partisan man. And, and, you know, I, I’m a type one diabetic. I fed the rest of my insulin. That’s not our lesson, like jobs leaving our neighborhood and never coming back. That’s not partisan trying to put food on your table, keep your lights on.

I think speaking to values and meeting people where they are one of the biggest changes with Democrats when you come to like rural areas, pulls up like writing it out. They’re like, don’t ever go, don’t even try. And we get that same type of conversation in the West. End of Louisville, where politicians are like, they don’t even try to talk to us.

When you sit down and talk to folks, we realize how much we have in common and the barriers start to fall down. 

Big John: Yeah, I think that’s, uh, that’s [00:16:00] obviously like what we’ve hit on throughout this podcast. I, I ran for a house of delegates seat in West Virginia in a very rural red area. And, uh, obviously I didn’t win, but we moved the needle like 12 or 13 points.

And by doing that, you know, obviously going meeting people where they are. So I tend to agree with what you’re saying. I think that. The thing that I questioned the most, or at least I had the problems with.

Do you think that there’s hope for those types of people to come back to maybe reality rather than being where they are now? 

Charles Booker: Often people ask me how do you convince people to support you? And my response is always, I’m not here to convince anybody.

I’m here to tell the truth. I’m going to show up because I love you because you’re my family and we can work together when we can. And if we have disagreements. We can work through those two. That’s what family is all about. Nobody is too far gone. Folks get set in their ways and a big challenge that we ultimately have to face like the elephant of our elephants in the room is racism.

How do we get to the heart of what inequity is all about and poverty and the struggles that have really burnt birth out of, uh, generations of structural inequity and racism? The way I’ve seen Democrats in particular, but I think all of us, um, dealing with these challenges in bridging those divides between urban, rural, and, and folks that have even voted for Trump is facing these things like talking about racism and being uncomfortable.

Um, [00:18:00] and one of the things I would do, I would go all over Kentucky, even before I ran for Senate as a state legislator. And I was the director of fish and wildlife, and I would show up the same way. And I would talk about issues. Poverty is criminalized in Kentucky. We have a lot of folks that are battling substance abuse and addiction, and then they’re criminalized still.

They’re getting treated, um, like human beings and being able to speak to that from a personal place, losing my uncle and, and talking about the fact that I’m fighting to make sure everyone has healthcare, that we have real reform in our justice system, because I love my uncle. And, and when I sit down and talk to folks, I got a relative like that too.

And I’m fighting for them too. So it really is possible. We honestly, we just got to try. 

Big John: Yeah, I think that that is, uh, so obviously Kentucky and West Virginia are not, uh, not that far apart when it comes to the opioid epidemic. I can definitely relate to that. My dad was an addict. Uh, so, and [00:19:00] now, you know, that was a lot of the discussion as well.

Well, uh, you know, trying to meet people in the middle at that point, the big question in terms of places like Kentucky, uh, looking at Georgia, right? Is there a, is there a way that Kentucky can become the next Georgia is, you know, are there, do we need to have new voter laws in order to do that? Do you know?

Or is it more groundwork? What needs to happen to see that kind of movement? 

Charles Booker: You know, uh, I mean, there are a lot of differences from Kentucky and Georgia, but the one truth that you can take out of Georgia is the power of organizing and, and reaching out to places that we’ve given up on. And talking about issues from a standpoint of a vision we believe in, instead of just turning down a political opponent, we need that in Kentucky.

We need it everywhere. Um, that’s really why when I stood to the holler, um, to say, we’re going to lift up the voices of folks in those places that we’ve left behind and talk about the fact that we [00:20:00] have so many common bonds and we can address issues in a way that redefines politics. Which is ultimately going at the heart of, of racism and has driven us apart on wedge issues.

And I think that’s what we need in places like Kentucky, more than anything. Before we look at a candidate who’s going to run for office, we got to invest in people on the ground every day that are fighting the good fight to survive. And when we do that, we create a big coalition of folks that can lift their voices together, which is what we’re seeing with her, to the holler.

And honestly, it’s what we saw in my run for us Senate. I had voted voted for Trump. They were organizing on my campaign because I was speaking about issues that matter to them. When they sit down at the dinner table. 

Chuck: Absolutely when I’m sure that that’s, that’s not really a story that you hear very often, somebody who was organizing for you, but also voting for Trump.

But it’s, uh, you know, we come across this a lot. People are complicated. They’re not just like, uh, uh, someone that you cut from a cloth. So, but I think this is [00:21:00] a good segue to hood to the holler. Um, like you mentioned an organization that you started after your Senate campaign. I know I’m really interested in hearing from you in your words, what.

That organization is and what your goals for it are, 

Charles Booker: um, hooked to the holler is really my life’s work. And it’s like, the reason I ran for state house, um, is because like the hood and where I’m from never gets talked about. It’s a big area in a very segregated city, the largest city in Kentucky, but we’re invisible.

I wanted to go into space where decisions are made and be a voice for folks who don’t get heard. As I traveled across Kentucky, I met a whole lot of folks that feel the exact same way and the conversation to me of the work about how we, if you’re democratic, you want to win more seats. And it isn’t even a partisan thing.

This is about having people in office that care about people like that, that are valuing our lives and keeping us alive and safe and, and healthy, you know, [00:22:00] and being able to keep a roof over our head and take care of our children, like basic things. And the biggest gap that I saw as a legislator is that people weren’t there like the voices of regular folks weren’t being heard.

And so good to the holler is a vehicle to activate folks, training people, to be citizen lobbyists, because corporations should a tale of they’re out of time. But regular folks aren’t being heard, train the folks on how to do that and create an agenda and how to use relational organizing so that we can build power where we are like, even if you don’t have money in your pocket, You have power and telling that story.

And I think the biggest part of what we do with hood to the holler and breaking down bursting democracy is lifting up the, these common bonds in a way that can bring new coalitions together. We’re pushing Brianna’s law. You saw what happened in Kentucky and then Louisville protests all throughout the year.

For me, I’ll tailor the door of a black woman who was kicked in, but when that happened, we all felt it. [00:23:00] Because we all want to be safe in our homes and in Kentucky, you know, there’s something that’s very important to folks about protecting your sanctuary, your castle, even that’s something that is true across the country.

And it was, it was a chance for us to tell a story about how we all need to be safe and we all want to be protected. Um, and so we’re organizing new coalition because of that, we do that type of work. We can win seats at the local state and federal level. End poverty, big picture.

And, um, That’s what we’re working for. 

Chuck: Absolutely. I completely agree. Yeah. That and I want to put a pin in and Brianna’s locked because I want to come back to that. Uh, but one thing I wanted to ask you in relation to hood to the holler, which again, I think that’s a perfect name for an organization because I really think it’s absolutely what you’re getting at with this and something that I think a concept that we’ve preached on the show.

One of the things you mentioned is, um, is making. Politics and just government in general, more democratic, I think on the [00:24:00] website, you, you talked about the concept of developing a new Southern strategy, um, and I’m sure you can speak to what the. The original Southern strategy was, which was incredibly racist.

But, um, I’m wondering how much of that, like how much of that is empowering people and how much of that is changing institutional barriers. Like for example, voting where were voter ID and voter purging laws, um, on their face may not sound racist, but disproportionately affect people of color and low-income people.

How much of the work is related to that? 

Charles Booker: Well, I mean the majority and, and ultimately the focus of the work is system-level change, which means we have to address. The institutions that allow this system of inequity to stay in place. Voting is one of the biggest aspects of that because it’s the entry point to democracy.

Kentucky has been one of the most disenfranchised States in the country. And so we’ve been honestly telling that story, you know, like when you come from the struggle, you’re just surviving. You’re taking, what’s being given to you. You’re making the [00:25:00] best out of it. We have faith, we’re hard-working.

We’re going to get the job done. But there are realities of things that we’re facing because of policies and because of decisions that people in office are making that we can change too. And pushing on institutional change, like codifying the restoration of voting rights, um, so that people can get their rights restored.

Um, making sure that we break down those barriers where it’s easier to, uh, to vote. Um, that registration is automatic and not just from the standpoint of voting, because it’s something to do. Like, no, we want to vote because we got a lot of organizing to do, to push our agenda for Kentucky after we vote.

And before we vote. And, um, we’ve been using like creative ways to tell that story, um, music we’ve had music Fest, uh, using artists to help, uh, communicated in publishing pieces and, and convening folks from different areas. On what it means to see [00:26:00] poverty in your community and how elected office and policies that come out of those offices can perpetuate or in those struggles.

Um, getting us to know what we’re up against, that we’re not fighting. One another, that we’re fighting a system is the bulk of the work. 

Chuck: That’s a, you make a really good point with that. And I think, um, something that. Is frustrating about the process of organizing is that it’s a sustained effort. That takes a lot of time.

I mean, people, people, when they tuned into Georgia, they saw the, you know, the Stacey Abrams almost won the governor’s race that, that the state flipped and the, the, the two sentences were one, but that was the product of a process that’s been going on for decades of people organizing to, to combat.

Institutional problems that have prevented people, largely people of color from voting. So I think it’s, um, I think what you’re doing is really interesting and really smart because it gets people engaged for the long haul. Um, there was another part though. I was [00:27:00] reading about some of the state of goals for hooded, the holler.

I thought it was really interesting. We’d love to kind of hear from it in your words. And, and you’ve spoken to this a little bit already. It’s, it’s a goal to break down the barriers between race and class. And so I’m wondering. Like what that means to you and why that’s important 

Charles Booker: when I talk about new Southern strategy, ultimately like that’s at the core of it, like, how do we redefine our politics?

How do we talk about issues in a way that we don’t fall into the trap of wedges to keep us divided? But we, we realize our common bonds and we went into a vision that is rooted in love and family. Um, and we fight together, you know, and that ultimately is. Um, I think the key to what I would say is pulling up the roots of racism in any poverty.

I, what I would see in the state legislature, for instance, um, are a lot of my colleagues from Appalachia that would talk about the, the challenges that their, [00:28:00] their folks were facing. I would stand up and tell them why I’m supporting them. They’re built because folks in the hood, I don’t think exact same thing.

Once we start to see one another, we can work together. And like I said, after that, we’re unstoppable. But you know, there, the truth is in a place like Kentucky, you know, you have issues like guns, um, gay marriage, abortion, um, that are trigger points. That essentially right now, Republicans are just weaponizing to the fullest extent to force people into corners where they do not talk to one another.

And one, the way you you get at that is, um, speak your truth, uh, beyond a bachelor truth, but also lift up common bonds. Like we, we have to get on the offense for what we believe and not just play this point of argument of saying, no, we’re not as bad as Republicans say we are. We [00:29:00] got to take the narrative back.

That’s what I’m doing. I’m going everywhere. Then folks say, Charles, don’t go there. You’re young, you’re black. No I’m going cause it’s my family. And I’m gonna talk about the issues that I’m dealing with as a Kentucky, but I’m gonna listen to them. And every time never fails, we see that out, but help, we should be fighting together cause we’re already fighting the same thing.

Once we activate that the momentum will build it. And what you said about Georgia is true, man. That’s years in the making that organizing it, that engagement, doing that heavy lifting is stuff that is when you never stopped doing it. Um, but we’ve seen a lot of momentum in Kentucky, and I’m excited about the future for us in the short amount of time, because people are ready for change.

And we’re going to honor that. 

Big John: That’s awesome. The, you, you mentioned something that I think is important and it’s, I guess even the namesake of your organization hood to the holler. Right? So there, there seems to be, Kentucky is interesting. I think there are a couple States, [00:30:00] Kentucky, Tennessee, which have these larger areas, uh, you know, for instance Louisville, which, which do have quote, hood, but then you have.

Literally, uh, you know, 50, 60 miles out, you have, you know, hollers, how do you as an organizer, how do you bring those two together? Because it seems like they would be diametrically opposed, right? That that’s the outside looking in you. How do you, how do you bring them together? 

Charles Booker: Yeah, I mean, the biggest thing is shining the light on, on the truth, because like you said, from the outside looking in, I like the way the narrative is framed.

Folsom. I think we’re on two separate planets. Right. But the truth of the matter is. Like now close to look at little boy, it’s a big metropolitan area. And so there’s this dynamic of lube versus the rest of the state, you know, where, um, leaders will pit rural folks against the big city folks. Yup. Well, let, let sounds familiar.

Let’s not unpack that right now, because look, what’s been one of the most segregated cities in the country and there is a person of the [00:31:00] city, which is about 70,000 people would be the third largest city in the state. Where I’m from. All my family is from, that has more in common with Appalachia than it does the rest of look like when you go across the ninth street divide is what we call it.

It’s like you’re driving into a time war. All the infrastructure is gone. There’s no place to get healthy food jobs have left and never returned. Our unemployment has been around 30%. I mean, internet is crap. Um, folks are suffering with high utility costs. Um, you know, folks are unhoused. You know, and, and they’re criminalized.

And so when you tell that story and to shine that light, it’s really easy for folks to get it because they’re fighting these same things. It’s, it’s just, we don’t have leaders with the courage to speak that truth and to go to those places. Um, and that’s why I hooked to the holler as a name was really important to me because.

The holler is really like the hood with a beautiful bag, great backgrounds. I envy that, but like when I, when I would go [00:32:00] across the tuck, my man, this is just like my neighborhood, except you’ll have much prettier scenery, but we’re fighting a lot of the same things. And when you shine the light, more people want to speak up too, because we want to do things differently.

We see it. We’ll fight for it. And those folks that are getting paid to that poverty to continue, um, are scared. That’s why Mitch McConnell was terrified of what we were doing. And, uh, that’s why we’re going to keep winning. 

Big John: Yeah. Uh, I’ve got one more. I know that Chuck wants to talk about the Briana Taylor law and I do too, uh, I guess to wrap, to wrap up just the discussion of your organization.

What is, I know that there are a lot of organizations that do similar work to you, um, that have very similar mission statements. But I think the degree of success is always very different. Right? W how, what does a successful hood to the holler organization look like in the future? [00:33:00] How do you value success at it?

Thanks. 

Charles Booker: Thank you for asking that question. Um, because one of the things I want to make clear is. Hooked to the holler is not an organization that is trying to build programming for the sake of it, so that we can feel good about ourselves. We want to activate people to go into those spaces, the organization that are already doing the work, um, boards, commissions, uh, elected office, so that they can lead out in the world.

So we’re really trying to do the work of reaching the people that never get spoken to. There are a lot of organizations that do great work even in my community, but the people that need it the most are very rarely in the room. You know, and, and there there’s institutional barriers or structural barriers and people have given up, or they’re too busy trying to survive.

And I think as a messenger of that, I’ve been able to speak to folks that had really checked out of the political process. Don’t have time for it and really encouraging people to try something different. And so we’re training folks. So we’re doing this political training for folks to run for office or get [00:34:00] involved in the campaign.

We’re partnering with the arena, uh, this national important to do that all across Kentucky. And we’re getting folks from every County that are saying, yeah, maybe I could run for office. If this guy could do it. Hell I can do it too. And, and so I think that’s our biggest contribution is all these organizations doing great work.

We want to get more people plugged in and you know, I think that’s the, the X factor. 

Chuck: And the time we have left, I wanted to touch on Brianna’s law. I know that this is something I think that you all have been talking about on social media, something that’s extremely important. And if I’m getting it right, it’s in the Kentucky legislature right now, it obviously is named after Brianna Taylor who was murdered by police officers, uh, last year.

Um, and my understanding is that among other things that would ban no-knock warrants, um, I’m interested in your take on this and what you think, um, like. The likelihood of passages and Kentucky, if this could create a ripple effect for similar laws and other States. And just anything else around [00:35:00] that?

Charles Booker: Yeah. So, uh, Rhianna’s law. I was actually working on this, um, on my way out of the legislature and, um, representative Attica, Scott, my colleague, I was working on as well at that time. She was the only black woman in the legislature and I wanted to support her. Um, You understand that, that in often cases, women get silenced, especially black women and that this was a pivotal moment.

I worked with her on this bill and we were able to push big coalition folks, organized the demonstrating, and Louisville to get an ordinance passed at the local level that was unanimous, um, to address, uh, banning no-knock warrants and additional provisions around body cameras. We’re trying to do that at the state level.

We have our work cut out. Um, the Republicans are in a super majority in both chambers and, um, have really set up additional proper process of bureaucracy to make it harder for bills to get [00:36:00] heard. Um, but the, the powerful part about this is because there’s such a broad coalition to urban, rural, uh, black, Brown, and white aisle degrees of class that are pushing for this, our Republican leadership.

Having knowledge that this is a bill that should be brought forward. And even the president of the St and speaker of the house have said that they support something along the lines of addressing banding on no-knock warrants. So we have room to work with our work is cut out, which is why we’ve been activating our volunteer network of over 9,000 Kentuckians.

To email every member of the house and Senate judiciary, um, saturating them with emails and phone calls, um, and folks doing videos and letters to the editor. I mean, we’re covering all our bases here. Um, the crazy thing about it, or the exciting thing about it is the work we’ve done here already to comfortable effects in other States because we’re seeing Brianna’s law being lifted up and other States [00:37:00] across the country.

And now it’s like, okay, y’all. This is ground zero. This is Kentucky. We’re helping to tell the story. Then it’s inspiring to people across the country. Let’s do it here. And, um, I’m committed for the long haul because this type of legislation opens the door to the bigger conversation about what public safety even means, um, and how we police and criminalize communities that don’t have a lot of resources or are underserved.

Um, and. What it means to, you know, to be a Kentucky and that’s afraid of being killed in your home by the agency you pay for to protect and serve you. 

Chuck: Absolutely. And, and, you know, being the Kentucky’s a super majority Republican legislature, something like this that you can see measurable gains like that, even with a super majority of Republicans, not only says something about the organizing work in Kentucky, but it also says about how.

Common sense. This, this actually is, and you know, it’s something that, like you mentioned about several other things, the [00:38:00] beginning, it shouldn’t be a partisan issue to feel safe in your home. It shouldn’t be a partisan issue to not want a police officer breaking down your door without a warrant. Um, so I appreciate the work that you’re doing on that.

I think it’s really important and I hope that, um, we’ll, we’ll put some links in our notes to this, that other people, especially our, um, listeners can and Kentucky can get involved and, and become a part of that. Um, Charles you have a great name. I got to say, and I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us today.

This has been a really, really great conversation. I’ve really enjoyed it. And, uh, I’m excited to see what you do in the future. 

Charles Booker: Well, thank you, Chuck. I do think it’s a very good name. If I say so myself again, John Love you too, man. Have a great beard.

There’s a lot of discipline. It 

Big John: will. And it’ll add votes. It’ll add vote. 

Charles Booker: I’m working on it. I’m coming, but you gotta keep your eyes on us and Kentucky, man. We’re doing the heavy lifting. We’re reaching out to folks, um, in [00:39:00] places that have been left behind for too long and, um, evaluating what’s next for me to include next year.

Um, but you know, I work as cut out, but I’m proud of Kentucky. Appalachia is in my heart, just like the West end of Louisville. We’re going to win our future. 

Chuck: That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much. And, and, uh, we appreciate it. We’re going to keep an eye on Kentucky and you.

Post-interview and Beef with Big John

Chuck: That was us interviewing Charles Booker. One of the, one of my favorite interviews. He is great. I’m super excited to see what he does in the future. I hope that he runs for something I’ve heard. Uh, I, you know, I’ve heard obviously, you know, some speculation around 20, 22 since ran Paul. Uh, the other Senator from, Kentucky is a [00:40:00] up for reelection, but I’ve also heard people talk about him potentially running for mayor of Louisville.

That’s something that I think a lot of people on the ground there might be pushing for. I don’t know. I obviously I’m not in Kentucky, so I can’t really speak to that, but that’s just what I’ve heard from some folks that I know there. So really interested to see what he does. And we’ll also say this, uh, this interview happened about a day before, uh, he announced this, but he has a book coming out called hood to the holler.

And I’m not sure there’s a date on that or anything. Or if he, I think he may have just signed the deal, but very excited for him. He’s doing some big things. And so we were really happy to have him on the show. 

Big John: I predict it. Now, if he runs for mayor Louisville, he wins the landslide. I don’t think it’s close.

He would just dominate that race. I, and I, I personally think that that is, uh, currently the best spot for him, because I think that it’ll show. People in Kentucky that they can trust a progressive Democrat to run a larger area, uh, [00:41:00] including statewide, very 

Chuck: large. It’s like the 23rd largest city in the country.

Big John: think we’ll show that he has the ability to, we already know he has the ability, but it’ll show people who doubt him, that he has the ability to run a city like Louisville. And then. He can then progress to either maybe running for governor or running for Senate at that point. Uh, but I do think that that’s the best thing for him right now.

And I want to say I tweeted this out and I want to make sure everybody knows that I did not know Charles when he ran, I didn’t know anything about him.

I thought that she was the only choice to go up against Mitch McConnell. I have never been more wrong in my life. Charles Booker should have gone against Mitch McConnell. He, he was the right choice in my opinion now, uh, and I wish that he would have [00:42:00] been able to gain more momentum as he moved through the primary.

I think that she’s, you know, she’s fine. But I’ll I think Charles Booker was the, was the correct choice. 

Chuck: You heard it here. First ladies and gentlemen, John admitting he was wrong.

So what we do on this show, we take radical responsibility. Radical. Yeah. And yeah, unfortunately I had a lot of institutional barriers up pushing against him throughout that whole process, but he was impressive. Nonetheless, very excited to see what he does in the future. And we encourage all of you to check out hood to the holler.

It’s a great organization doing really, really important work. In fact, right now they’re working on organizing phone banking to check in on people in Kentucky who have lost their power due to these massive storms. That’s a really big, important thing nobody’s talking about, but they’re doing it. [00:43:00] And a very impressive to appreciate that.

But moving on, on to the final segment of the show as always, we, uh, We litigate the grievances and the courtroom of the podcast on the show. Ladies and gentlemen, alliteration is your friend beef with begrudge ladies and gentlemen.

Parker’s pond by God, Virginia. It’s the chain. Oskie himself brief with bring John

Big John: Uh, first off I’m coming off. COVID okay. So, you know, I’ve, 

Chuck: I’ve [00:44:00] you say that like, it’s like a drug, like you just did some MTN mayors, and I’m like, I’m coming down from COVID man. It was a wild ride. Look, 

Big John: I’m coming down now. I’ve been tweaking on COVID for the last two weeks. I fucked up on it. And so, uh, you know, I just got over.

I’ve been tired, but anyway, also need good mojo, Chuck. I need, I need good mojo coming my way. Uh, I got the bar exam coming up this week. Actually, while people are listening to this episode, I will be taking the bar exam, probably not doing too hot, but that’s what I’ve got beef with this week is the bar exam.

And not the fact that I’m taking it, but the fact that it exists, I think the bar exam is one of the. I’m going to get inside. This is probably there and they’re going to interview me after I take the bar exam and be like, well, we heard you say this. I think the bar exam 

Big John: full deniability, to keep out minority and to keep out people who are poor because the bar exam was created.

[00:45:00] And you can go back and look at, um, Uh, justice Scalia. He even said in, uh, in a ruling on, I think it was the disability act. When it came to the bar exam, he said that it shouldn’t apply because it is a. It’s a extraordinary fraternity that only the best of the best should be a part of, which is ridiculous.

The fact is people go to law school, they do all this, they do a ton of work. Home rule is something that existed in the eighties. You just went to the state school and you automatically got admitted to the bar. And guess what? Chuck, all of those people are still practicing.

What a crazy, crazy idea. But the fact is the bar exam makes, makes millions of dollars for the bar. It keeps people out who they don’t want to come in. And realistically it stops poor people from being able to compete at that level. Because Chuck, you have to take off. If, if you are out of the bar or if you’re out of law school, [00:46:00] you have to take off work.

You have to drop, it costs like $5,000 total to take the bar exam between hotel. Practice, uh, literature, stuff like that. It’s like $3,000 just for the class. It’s a massive amount of money that people have to take out loans for unless their mommy and daddy are attorneys. And that’s great for them. I mean, obviously that’s awesome.

But to me, going to law school, doing well enough, and being able to get through those three years of hell should prove that you’re able to practice law.. 

Chuck: Uh, you’re probably right. That’s why I didn’t. That was one of the biggest reasons why I didn’t take it because I could not afford to take three, however months off after graduating, I couldn’t afford to pay the thousand some odd dollars to register for it.

And then the $3,000 it would cost to do the bar prep, uh, [00:47:00] classes. So that’s why I didn’t. And, uh, it sucks. 

Big John: I’ve I’ve talked to people who even like, um, administer the bar and stuff like that. And, and I try to get a good reason from them. And, and obviously there are reasons like, well, it ensures that people are good at practicing law.

That’s not true at all. Chuck 

Chuck: the fuck it does. 

Big John: If you were to take. If you were to do, uh, a case like you do the bar exam, you would have a male practice suit filed against you the next day, because literally the bar exam is you walking in.

You just guess at what you think is right. Imagine doing that on a daily basis, you would have a malpractice, a malpractice suit, and you would never be able to practice. All it does is prove that you are able to memorize enough for two days of a test and you could go on and be the worst attorney. In the entire world, while somebody who maybe failed the bar would have been a [00:48:00] great member of the bar, but they had other, you know, other issues that were holding them back.

It’s insane to me that we continue to do this, especially because the proof is in the pudding. We have some of the best attorneys in the entire world. For instance, one guy that we know, Walt Orville. Right. Great attorney. He, I worked for him. Great attorney. One of the best, uh, yeah, one of the best employment law attorneys you will ever see ever.

And I will put, I put all my money on that. Probably the 

Chuck: best, at least in West Virginia, best 

Big John: in West Virginia bar, none. And the fact is he never took the West Virginia bar. He didn’t have to, he just, yeah, he just graduated and he was able to practice. Now imagine he, now he did take the Pennsylvania bar, but I’m not going to get into all that.

But in West Virginia, he didn’t have to take the bar. It was, it was home rule at the time. So you got to be able to join the bar immediately. Now, imagine if Waldorf will never practice his law, let’s say he just never passes the bar. Imagine how many people [00:49:00] would have lost employment cases that. Because they had a shitty attorney that didn’t understand what was going on 

Chuck: club. Yeah, it really is. No, it’s the fucking truth, sadly unfortunate, but it is true.

There’s 

Big John: attorneys listening to this and, and I hope they disagree with me. That’s fine. Like I get the fact that like the bar exam may be beneficial to some people, but to me, It doesn’t make much sense to have to regurgitate things that you learned over a three-month course for two days, and then you just forget it after you leave it.

It makes no sense to me. What they should do is they, if you want to have a real exam, give us a real issue, [00:50:00] give us the, all the materials to do it and let us show you that we’re actually good at it. Not the fact that we just memorized a whole bunch of random law. 

Chuck: Yeah, well, that’s true. And a beef. It was.

True. So when you’re hearing this ladies and gentlemen, John, John, I’ll be participating in it. John will be participating in this terrible thing. They’re going 

Big John: to somebody at the bar is going to hear this and I’m going to get knocked. I know it well. Okay. If you’re listening and you’re from the West Virginia bar, just know I still want to be a member he does 

Chuck: and wants to be part of that exclusive boys’ club.

I’m just saying it’s part of his entry fee. 

Big John: That there are other ways you could allow people. And that’s all 

Chuck: I’m saying. Yeah. We’re going to take some of that patron money. Slip it under the desk for you. I’m kidding. Anyway. Well, blacklist, uh, lofty beef. It was, but we got to call it quits for the [00:51:00] day.

Again, follow us on the social media and patriarch. Check it out store, check it out, website, check it out@podlatch.com and we’ll be back next week. See, uh,

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