Raphael Warnock, a Democrat and the senior preacher at Georgia’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King, Jr. once also delivered sermons, has just been elected the first Black senator of the state of Georgia, per CNN. This is a significant accomplishment in its own right, but The Guardian points out that when Warnock was born, Georgia’s senators were both segregationists, including Democratic Senator Herman Talmadge, who actively opposed the push for civil rights legislation. This makes Warnock’s accomplishment stand out even brighter as a beacon of change.
Senator-elect Warnock ran against the sitting senator, Trump supporter and Republican Kelly Loeffler. Loeffler, as part of her campaign, labeled Warnock a “Marxist radical,” but apparently failed to garner enough support to hold onto her seat. The shift aligns with other clear changes in the way the people of Georgia voted; Biden won the state in the general election in November, where no other democratic presidential candidate has won since Bill Clinton in 1992 (via The Guardian).
The parallels between Warnock and Dr. King abound
Social media has exploded with reactions in the wake of the news, with Warnock himself tweeting, simply, “Joy comes in the morning. Thank you, Georgia.” In direct reply to the tweet, folks on both ends of the political spectrum responded the way one might expect. One reply said, “Congratulations and thank you so much for saving America!” while another threatened, “We will Expel you.”
The church where Warnock has been preaching isn’t the only link he has with Dr. King. Warnock attended the same college King did, Morehouse. He also gave his first sermon at the young age of 11, showing the same early promise for moving a crowd as King (via The Guardian). Further, has a way with words. In a televised address after announcing victory early Wednesday morning, Warnock reflected upon his upbringing and his mother’s hands. His mother, Verlene Warnock, raised twelve children in a Savannah housing project and spent her summers in the 1950’s picking cotton and tobacco. He said of her aged, hard-worked hands, “The 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator… The improbable journey that led me to this place in this historic moment in America could only happen here” (via The Washington Post).
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