The importance of community was impressed on Cory early in life. When Cory’s parents decided to move into a neighborhood with great public schools, no one would sell them a home because of the color of their skin. A group of volunteer lawyers, who had witnessed acts of violence against peaceful voting rights activists on Bloody Sunday, were inspired to help Black families at home in New Jersey and stepped in to advocate for Cory’s family in their journey to homeownership.
Cory attended Stanford University on a football scholarship and helped fellow students by working as a peer crisis counselor. He also spent time mentoring middle school students in East Palo Alto. He went on to study at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship and graduated from Yale Law School in 1997.
Instead of pursuing a lucrative career after leaving Yale, Cory moved into Newark’s central ward, and eventually into a public housing project, where he lived for eight years. He fought for tenants rights, and teamed up with his neighbors to take on the slumlord running their building, and won. As a city council member, he fought for efficiency and transparency in City Hall. In 2006, he was elected mayor with 72 percent of the vote.
Two decades later, Cory still lives in Newark’s Central Ward.
As mayor, Cory took on some of the city’s biggest challenges. He successfully fought to reduce crime, ushered in the biggest economic development boom in a generation, and reigned in longstanding corruption in City Hall. He brought together a diverse coalition of people to deliver real change for Newark’s residents, and four years into Cory’s term, the 2010 Census showed the city’s population growing instead of shrinking for the first time in more than half a century.
A United States Senator since 2013, Cory has written and championed dozens of bills aimed at fixing our broken criminal justice system, expanding economic opportunity, and fighting for equal justice for everyone.
Cory believes in an economy that values American workers and benefits everyone, not just the privileged few. He has wrote and helped pass the most sweeping economic development bill in a generation. His baby bonds proposal, the American Opportunity Accounts Act, would virtually close the racial wealth gap by funding a federally-backed savings account for every child born in America that grows with them as they grow up, ensuring that all children born in this country are afforded the opportunity for upward mobility.
In 2018, Cory helped to write and pass the First Step Act—a bipartisan bill that, for the first time in decades, makes meaningful reforms to our criminal justice system and begins to reverse the injustices of mass incarceration. In 2019, he reintroduced the Marijuana Justice Act, which would legalize marijuana at the federal level and restore justice to those already convicted of marijuana-related offenses—convictions that disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color.
Cory is leading the fight for equal justice for all Americans. He is an original co-sponsor of the Equality Act to protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans, has advocated to expand access to health care to every American, and is committed to addressing climate change with an eye toward its impact on vulnerable communities. Cory’s landmark Environmental Justice Act strengthens legal protections against environmental injustice for communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities.
As a tenant lawyer, city councilman, mayor, and now U.S. senator, Cory has spent his life bringing people together to take on the problems we face. And what he’s learned is that the support of a loving community can overcome even the most insurmountable challenges. His vision for our country is one in which we are measured by our ability to love and to come together to create a more fair and just nation for every New Jerseyan.