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Lauren Book challenges Florida Democratic delegation to remember why they came to Philadelphia

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One of Florida’s newest state Senators, Lauren Book, addressed the Florida Delegation Breakfast Thursday at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

“Why are each and every one of you here today?” she challenged delegates shortly after her introduction. The Broward County Democrat was following such notables as Howard Dean and Terry McAuliffe.

“Why have you traveled a thousand or more miles to participate over the last few days? What is your motivation to be among this group of super Democrats? It’s taken a lot to get here.”

She answered her own question by saying that it might be because of a passion for protecting a woman’s right to choose, to help Democrats to win back the Congress, or perhaps stop the epidemic of gun violence.

Or it was simply to help Hillary Clinton become the first woman to hold the highest office in the land.

Book won her first bid for public office last month in state Senate District 32 when no other candidate filed by the qualifying deadline.

Although she’ll be a freshman when the Legislature convenes in 2017, she’s already a well-known quantity both in Tallahassee and throughout the state, after making a name for herself as a vocal advocate on behalf of victims of childhood sexual abuse.

In 2007, Book founded Lauren’s Kids, a nonprofit which aims to teach children and adults about sexual abuse prevention through education, awareness campaigns and speaking engagements around the world.

She’s also the daughter of the extremely wired-in Ron Book, considered one of Florida’s most influential lobbyists.

While some delegates chatted among themselves quietly as Book began to speak, halfway through her address, the entire room hushed as she told her own tale of sexual and emotional abuse, which began at the age of 11 at the hands of a nanny.

“I was scared. Embarrassed. And ashamed. I felt trapped. And very, very alone.”

Book noted that it took six years for her to tell others about the abuse. “I grew stronger!” she exclaimed to loud cheers from delegation members.

Ninety-five percent of sexual abuse is preventable, Book said, through education and awareness. Her annual treks across Florida — now totaling more than 9,000 miles walked — helped bring awareness to the issue of sexual abuse. Book then mentioned those who had walked with her: Oscar Braynon, Arthenia Joyner, Bill Nelson, Bob Buckhorn and others.

As was the overall theme of the convention, Book gave some love to Hillary Clinton. She cited specifically the newly-nominated presidential candidate’s work with the Children’s Defense Fund, which lobbied Congress to pass the Education for All Handicapped Children Act in 1975. The Act requires all public schools accepting federal funds to provide equal access to education, as well as one meal a day free for children with physical and mental disabilities.

Book added that while in office, she intends to continue advocating for policies protecting women’s health, expanded access to mental health services and strengthening Florida’s criminal justice system.

“As we stand at the convention tonight,” she concluded, “and watch Hillary Rodham Clinton become our nominee … I am going to ask each and every one of you to ‘remember your why.'”

“Remembering your why” — or finding the meaning of your life through impactful events — was the topic of a Ted Talk Book gave earlier this year in Oxford, England.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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