Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape Steve King to Gillibrand: Odds of me resigning same as yours of winning presidential nomination We need a climate plan for agriculture MORE (D-N.J.) says he believes that the "biggest evil" in the country "is the lack of engagement."

“The poverty that I’m worried about is the poverty of empathy, the poverty of compassion and the poverty of action,” Booker said Wednesday night while hosting a discussion with civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson and poet Cleo Wade.

The three came together for the first "My Friend Wrote This Book," a series of literary events at Eaton DC, a hotel and progressive workshop, where they discussed their work. Wade recently released "Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life," and Mckesson released "On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope," in September.


Booker, a potential 2020 presidential contender, said he avoids focusing too much on President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE “because what you give energy to, you give power to.”

He said he does “get angry” with the state of the country but tries “to ignite a more radical love in this country.”

“More action of love will blot out that which is the darkness or the hate,” Booker said.

He also spoke about his experience as the fourth African-American elected to the Senate.

“I still come to the Senate floor and still feel this unbelievable sense of majesty and magic, and I know I am sitting here because a whole lot of people bled and died and suffered,” he said.

Mckesson spoke to the new wave of activism since Trump's election and questioned how effective it had been.

“I think people are more in love with the idea of resistance than the work of resistance," he said. “People get addicted to being heard and seen more than they get addicted to being free."

But he also saw many upsides.

“When I think about the left especially, we have the numbers. The question is can we organize them,” he added.

Wade said activism can take many forms.

“One of the most important things to remember is that hope … can look however you need it to look … even if you just smile at your neighbor,” she said.

And she said the most important thing was to listen to new voices. “In a time when we are constantly telling people to speak up," she said. "It is critical that people in power listen.”