Brakkton Booker

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.

He covers a wide range of topics including issues related to federal social safety net programs and news around the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

His reporting takes him across the country covering natural disasters, like hurricanes and flooding, as well as tracking trends in regional politics and in state governments, particularly on issues of race.

Following the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, Booker's reporting broadened to include a focus on young activists pushing for changes to federal and state gun laws, including the March For Our Lives rally and national school walkouts.

Prior to joining NPR's national desk, Booker spent five years as a producer/reporter for NPR's political unit. He spent most to the 2016 presidential campaign cycle covering the contest for the GOP nomination and was the lead producer from the Trump campaign headquarters on election night. Booker served in a similar capacity from the Louisville campaign headquarters of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014. During the 2012 presidential campaign, he produced pieces and filed dispatches from the Republican and Democratic National conventions, as well as from President Obama's reelection site in Chicago.

In the summer of 2014, Booker took a break from politics to report on the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

Booker started his career as a show producer working on nearly all of NPR's magazine programs, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and former news and talk show Tell Me More, where he produced the program's signature Barbershop segment.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Howard University and was a 2015 Kiplinger Fellow. When he's not on the road, Booker enjoys discovering new brands of whiskey and working on his golf game.

The goal of the National African American Gun Association is to introduce black Americans to guns and also instruct them on how to use them.

Some see the group as an alternative to the National Rifle Association for black gun owners, but it has some notable differences. Organizers say it is a civil rights organization that aims to build community and promote self-protection.

Since its creation in 2015, the group has seen rapid growth with roughly 30,000 members and 75 chapters nationwide. Leaders expect another 25 chapters by next year.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have launched a free online gun violence prevention course.
Elizabeth Fernandez / Getty Images

Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET

Federal agents raided Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh's home, part of city hall and another location Thursday. Pugh is under investigation for alleged "self-dealing" in connection with hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments for a self-published children's book from private companies that were subject to her influence.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Updated at 2:58 p.m. ET

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is suing social media giant Facebook for allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act.

HUD says Facebook does so by "encouraging, enabling and causing housing discrimination" when it allows companies that use their platform to improperly shield who can see certain housing ads.

Updated at 4:28 p.m. ET

Days after three separate suicides in Parkland, Fla., and Newtown, Conn., left those communities reeling, the Senate did something rare for a GOP-led chamber: It held a hearing on gun control.

As countries worldwide continue to ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, aviation officials in the U.S. have been hesitant to follow suit.

The Federal Aviation Administration says there is "no basis to order the grounding of the aircraft." That's according to a statement Tuesday evening from Daniel Elwell, the acting FAA administrator.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has decided not to launch his "reconciliation tour" as planned on Thursday morning at Virginia Union University.

The change comes days after the student government president of the historically black university urged the embattled Democratic governor to come another time.

There will be no marching.

There will be no school walkouts.

Only a day of reflection and service and, perhaps most consequential, a time to grieve.

That is how many of the Parkland, Fla., survivors turned activists plan to spend Thursday, the first anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Hundreds of thousands of federal employees around the country are returning to work after being furloughed for more than a month. Thousands of others in the federal workforce did work during the 35-day shutdown but didn't get paid.

The Trump administration promises that by Friday federal workers will be paid the two consecutive paychecks that were missed as a result of the government being shuttered.

With the partial government shutdown on the verge of becoming the longest in U.S. history, many housing advocates fear thousands of low-income Americans are at risk of being evicted. More than 1,000 government-backed housing contracts have already expired and potentially more will do so in the coming weeks.

Since the shutdown began last month, approximately 1,150 federal rental assistance contracts have not been renewed due to funding lapses at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Updated at 10:15 p.m. ET

President Trump traveled to Pittsburgh Tuesday, to pay tribute to the victims of a weekend massacre that claimed the lives of 11 worshipers at a synagogue. It also came on the same day mourners began to bury loved ones and demonstrators took to the streets to protest Trump's presence.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Top Maryland lawmakers announced Friday they were informed by the FBI about links between a Russian oligarch and the software company that services parts of the state's voter registration systems.

Officials said there is no evidence of a breach in the system, but wanted to keep the public informed. State officials said the connections were alarming enough to ask the state's attorney general to review the contract Maryland has with the company.

When Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson was crafting his rent reform proposal for Americans living on housing assistance earlier this year, he spoke to leaders at the Charlotte Housing Authority in North Carolina about their work requirements.

The "Making Affordable Housing Work Act" would allow housing authorities more flexibility to impose work requirements on tenants, which Carson said helps promote self-sufficiency.

High school seniors who survived the deadly shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, just two weeks ago, graduated Friday.

On Sunday, the 2018 class at a Parkland, Fla. high school, where a gunman killed 17 people, will also receive their diplomas.

It was in the days after that Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that survivors-turned-advocates became a national force in calling for tighter gun regulation in the U.S.

And for students, it's also been a lesson in patience.

The United States does not stack up favorably when compared to other nations with advanced economies when it comes to childhood poverty worldwide, according to a new report, which considered factors such as the lack of access to quality food, high adolescent birth rates and a child dropping out of school.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa resigned Tuesday, days after federal prosecutors charged him with failing to file three years of federal tax returns.

Mayor Catherine Pugh announced that she has accepted De Sousa's resignation and launched a national search to find a replacement. She also told residents that De Sousa's departure, just a few months after he started in that position, will not deter the city from fighting crime.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson wants Americans living on housing assistance to put more of their income toward rent and he wants to give public housing authorities the ability to impose work requirements on tenants.

Under current law, most tenants who get federal housing assistance pay 30 percent of their adjusted income toward rent, and the government kicks in the rest up to a certain amount.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Some Washington, D.C.-area residents have created a free home-share network to provide lodging for hundreds of students traveling to the nation's capital on Saturday to demand action to end gun violence.

The "March for Our Lives" rally was spearheaded by student survivors in the immediate aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month in Parkland, Fla, where 17 people were killed.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Now to Florida. This afternoon in Tallahassee, Governor Rick Scott met with loved ones of the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month. Scott also signed legislation tightening gun restrictions in the state.

Updated at 7:40 p.m. ET

Florida lawmakers have approved a package of gun control measures designed to prevent another mass shooting like the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last month.

The state House voted 67-50 to approve changes such as raising the legal age for buying rifles and imposing a three-day waiting period for all gun sales. The measure also allows for the arming of some school personnel.

Updated at 10 p.m. ET

The chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson Wednesday requesting "all documents and communications" related to the redecorating of his office and HUD's handling of a whistleblower.

The White House's Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal, released Monday, calls for work requirements for those who receive public housing subsidies and slashes funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development by $8.8 billion.

Updated on Feb. 5 at 5:15 p.m. ET

The recently-released Republican memo alleging abuses of covert surveillance powers by the Justice Department and FBI to investigate a former member of President Trump's campaign team will not have "any impact on the Russia probe," said Republican Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.

Gowdy, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, was speaking on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday. He also said that even if the controversial Steele dossier didn't exist, there would still be a Russia investigation.

Updated 8:26 p.m. ET

House Democrats went on the offensive Saturday amidst a controversy surrounding a memo released a day earlier that argues the Justice Department and the FBI abused their surveillance authority.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, released a 6-page rebuttal memo he's circulated to his colleagues and given to the media, including NPR.

Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III, seen as a rising political star with a famous last name, will deliver the Democratic response to President Trump's State of the Union on Tuesday.

Top Democratic leaders in Congress made the announcement Thursday evening, calling Kennedy a "relentless fighter for working Americans." Kennedy is the grandson of the late Robert Kennedy, the former U.S. attorney general and New York senator who was assassinated in 1968. He is also the great nephew of both the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy and the late president John F. Kennedy.

The opioid epidemic was the topic of a discussion at Purdue University where Indiana’s drug czar, Jim McClelland, lead the talk.

Indiana’s executive director for drug prevention, treatment and enforcement, Jim McClelland was appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb earlier this year and is tasked to tackle the state’s opioid epidemic.

He says the focus right now is to increase treatment access.

“Few people can recover without treatment,” McClelland says. “Medicated treatment is the gold standard, a combination of medication and behavioral therapy.”

Howard University, one of the nation's top historically black colleges, has seen the neighborhood around it change drastically over the years.

The area, located just a couple of miles north of Capitol Hill, was once working-class and black. But as hundreds of new residents move to D.C. each month, more nonblack residents move into Howard's neighborhood. And as property values rise, the university is trying to capitalize on the hot real estate market.

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