Updated: Jul 24, 2021
Who is Bryanta Booker-Maxwell
I guess what I can say about who I am, is someone who is a lover of people, a lover of the community, and an absolute lover of politics. Politics is my absolute first love. It's something I always had a passion for since I was a young child. Instead of being outside and playing or playing with dolls, I would be inside watching the news: either local news networks or local commentary. I would also sneak and watch Perry Mason. That was nap time in my Grandmothers house, so I would always sneak and watch that. I always had a love for politics and the legal field. I never went to Law School. I've taken the LSAT several times, and it's still a dream of mine to go to Law School potentially and practice law. Criminal law, to be exact, but my main passion is politics in the political field and political sector.
My strongest points in politics would be Infrastructure, education, and healthcare because I think those are the major things plaguing South Carolina right now and the black community. When you talk about Infrastructure, your also talking about clean drinking water, broadband access, all things that mid-South Carolinians do not have access to right now. So, who is me? Well, this is me. I absolutely love gaining knowledge and learning, but the main thing about me is politics.
You've had experience working alongside some high profile leaders, such as Hillary Clinton, DNC Chair Jaime Harrison, Congressman James Clyburn, and now Congressman Joe Cunningham. How important are morals and values when selecting our leaders who govern us?
It's important, and we cant get caught up in the hype of names. We have to get caught up in what the person stands for and if what they stand for will be transformative for the state of South Carolina. Jaime has been my mentor since 2013, but I also knew what Jaime wanted to do for South Carolina is what South Carolina needed. I also knew these are things South Carolina has not had in a very long time, if not at all. Jaime showed a different type of leadership that the state was apparently afraid of or wasn't ready for. It's important that you look at the morals and values of the person, but you also can not be a one-issue person. You can support someone who only believes in one thing you believe in, but there may be a whole list of other things that are not important for the state or country.
From your experience, what is the hardest part of your job, if any, and what parts bring you joy?
One of the hardest parts is people taking me seriously. I've been taught I should toot my own horn because I do not do enough of this. Black women don't do enough of this. I know what I'm doing, and I know what I know. I've had the experience, the background, and the knowledge to get the job done from a state-wide perspective. A lot of scenarios is just people respecting what I can do, my craft, and my knowledge. Black women have that issue, not only in politics but in leadership. It's just a matter of people respecting me and being a black woman in politics, periodt.
What brings me joy is being able to talk to people. When I was traveling the state, be it with Joe or with Jaime, just being able to go to these forgotten communities. I absolutely love going to the rural communities more than I do the Charlestons, the Greenville's, the Columbia's, and the Spartenburgs because those are people that usually get forgotten. They don't have the opportunities that bring the candidates to come there. Their issues are typically forgotten because they're overshadowed. They'll let the officials overshadow, or the officials aren't doing what they need to do because they are catering to corporate interest or something of the such. So what brings me joy is being able to go to communities and help them with the issues they are facing.
Given where we are, what is your view of our country in how it's handling the current voting rights?
I can say the Bidens administration is working on it, but I just think the whole thing is mum. I don't know why in 2021, we are still having a conversation about voting rights. It should be a situation where any and everybody can vote, including a convicted felon. If I've served my time, let me come back to the community and prove to the community that I am a worthwhile citizen, and I can vote. If I live here in this community, then I probably have some issues and concerns about the community. So everybody should be able to vote, and it shouldn't be a situation of giving these voter IDs laws.
If I have an ID with my picture and name on it, that should be sufficient. In South Carolina, they don't want you to vote with a college ID, but you can vote with a hunting license. That's just backward, and it excludes a specific group of people. It's also excluding students from HBCU's because we all know many people come from low-income poor families or come from out of state. The Republican party does everything in its power to make it harder for poor, low-income people to vote, including the older people who have not had access to IDs or birth certificates and college students, our African-American students the most.
From your perspective, being a native to South Carolina, do you believe it's time to change and switch up our leaders? If so, why?
I don't get into ageism. That's one thing I don't do. You can be a well energetic, well-rounded, 25-year old who doesn't know jack about jack. They can offer great talking points and get a bunch of likes on social media. I don't believe just because the 25-year-old wants to run for office; I should be supporting them. What I look for in a person is leadership capabilities and experience. Those are the two main things I look for. Experience comes from being in the community and doing the work. I've had debates with people about this for years. People say if a person wants to run for office, they should, well let em. That doesn't mean I have to support them. I think leadership needs to change in a few ways, but not in other ways.
Now, when I say leadership, do I think the Republican party needs to go, absolutely. We need to get rid of all of them and replace them with some better people. We also do have some Democrats that do need to go as well. A lot of them are not doing anything for their community. I don't get into ageism, but I also don't think I should vote for you just because you are young and a millennial. If there's a 40, 50, or 60-year old that decides they want to run for a seat, and I know they have the capabilities to get the job done, along with the experience and leadership abilities, I will support them
Can you tell us of any leaders within life or the political world who have inspired or motivated you as a leader yourself?
Locally, it would be Congressman Clyburn, and he would be the most effective one for me. Jaime Harrison, and Gilda Cobb-Hunter. Nationally, it would be Maxine Waters, Marsha Fudge, and you know Trav Robertson, as Chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party. I have been fortunate to watch him and work alongside him and Christale Spain, who is the Deputy Director of the South Carolina Democratic Party. Those are just a few incredible people and the first ones that come to my head at the moment.
For those who aren't familiar, could you tell us about Taking Root?
Taking Root is currently on pause right now, because my partner is pursuing her Ph.D. It's an organization that we founded to help young black girls or girls of color get involved in the political system. We teach them how to phone bank, teach them how to canvass, they get to meet elected officials, and we take them to political events. Once they turn 18, we get them registered to vote, and we make sure they stay politically engaged.
What advice can we get from "Bre," the social advocate, the political analyst, the entrepreneur, the business owner, on how we can use our own voice and power to make a difference in politics?
I would advise everyone to get a mentor, whoever you look up to. See if you can either call them, send them a message, and see what do they see as a path in moving forward. What was their path will be different for your path. So get a mentor because no one person knows everything. I think that's the problem we have as 45 and under people. We think just because we are upset with the political system; we know how to fix it. When in reality, you don't even know how the system works. So it's one thing to say we need to change the system without understanding how the system works. I agree that some things within the system need to change, but we also have to understand how these systems work. So my advice it to get a mentor who learns how these system works and get involved. Take political training, like for South Carolina, for women, there is Emerge, for everyone, there is the James E. Clyburn politics fellowship, that's a great 5-month fellowship program. Nationally, there's the National Democratic Training Organization which has several different trainings. I would advise everyone to get involved in national and local training.
Keep in touch, and stay in the know!