NEWARK, NJ — Adorned in a vibrant dashiki, Lawrence Hamm welcomed a modest crowd to the 53rd annual Kwanzaa gathering at the People's Organization for Progress. He opened with a light-hearted joke about the miraculous prompt start time.

Hamm, a progressive, radical leader from Newark who heads the People's Organization for Progress, will challenge Cory Booker in the 2020 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate if Booker's presidential campaign doesn't pan out.

"It’s an uphill fight. I'm not under any illusions this is going to be some kind of cake walk," Hamm said of the campaign. "This is clearly a David and Goliath story."

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"I’m well aware of the challenges that we face but we’re gonna run anyway, we’re gonna run hard," he said. "I'm confident that we’re going to make a good showing."

Hamm's motivation in vying for the Senate seat stems from deep support of Bernie Sanders. Hamm says his strategic move to appear on the same ballot line as Sanders will hopefully secure more votes for the presidential candidate from people of color.

"He (Sanders) will be coming out of the Senate into the White House so someone has to be that radical voice in the Senate and I want to be that voice in the Senate that will give his legislation and his efforts the kind of support they need," Hamm told TAPinto Newark.

Hamm says he will not accept dollars from large corporations or the banking, fossil fuel and weapons manufacturing industries to fund his campaign. Instead, he will rely on individual donations from grassroots people. 

Hamm said the P.O.P. already endorsed his and Sanders' campaign, and Bishop Jethro James of Paradise Baptist Church in Newark recently endorsed Hamm as well. Hamm announced his candidacy through social media on Dec. 19 with The Committee to Elect Lawrence Hamm just recently organized.

Hamm has also outlined several of Sanders' reforms which he supports.

Hamm agrees with Sanders' idea of Medicare for all and he is pushing for free college education. 

"I think all young people who want to go to college and have the ability to go to college should be able to do so, and they should not have to graduate with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt," Hamm said. "It’s ridiculous, its absolutely ridiculous."

He referred to student loans as "a form of indentured servitude." He calls it "debt slavery."

Furthermore, Hamm wants see the United States government wipe out all student debt. He says if the country has funds for a space force, surely all student debt can be paid off to allow young people to progress in their careers and buy cars and houses.

If elected, Hamm also wants to take action to raise the federal minimum wage, which stands at $7.25. While some want to phase in the wage increase to account for small businesses, Hamm advocates for an immediate increase.

Finally, he said he supports the Green New Deal, a resolution with a grand plan to tackle climate change.

"We face an existential crisis at this time, the very future of humanity hangs in the balance," he said.

Lastly, Hamm supports reparations for African American and a Senate reparation study commission. He said the country has never officially acknowledged the great injustice done to African people during the time of slavery.

The Democratic primary for U.S. Senate will be held on June 2, 2020.