By Sean Yoes
AFRO Senior Reporter
(Updated 1/9/20) – The Rev. Raphael Warnock, the youngest son of a mother who he said once, “picked somebody else’s cotton,” has become the first Black person elected to the United States Senate from the state of Georgia.
“I come before you tonight as a man who knows that the improbable journey that led me to this place in this historic moment in America could only happen here,” said Warnock a little after midnight on January 6. “We were told that we couldn’t win this election. But, tonight we proved that with hope, hard word and the people by our side anything is possible.”
Warnock, who grew up in Kayton Homes public housing in Savannah, Ga., ascended to the pulpit of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, once held by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Now, after he was victorious in a runoff election on Jan. 5, over incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler, he will become only the 11th Black person in the U.S. Senate in the nation’s history. Warnock captured 2,231,561 votes (50.6%), to Loeffler’s 2,176,959 votes (49.4%)
Warnock, who was named Ebenezer Baptist’s senior pastor in 2005, served in the same position at Douglas Memorial Community Church in West Baltimore prior to his move to Atlanta. “Sen.-elect Raphael Warnock’s victory will help save America from itself,” said Dr. Sheridan Todd Yeary, the current senior pastor at Douglas Memorial. “A son of Georgia has emerged as a new voice in the choir for a moral economic and political agenda that will remedy the harms that have been exacted against the interests of those who continue to suffer at the hands of disinterested government.”
Warnock’s victory is crucial in the grand scheme of American government and the agenda of the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, because it moves the Senate one step closer to Democratic control. At AFRO press time, Jon Ossoff led in Georgia’s other Senate race over incumbent Sen. David Perdue with 2,213,099 votes (50.2%) to 2,195,532 votes (49.8%) for Perdue. The race has not been officially called for Ossoff yet. However, all indications are that it will be and when that happens the Senate will be evenly divided with 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats and two Independents (Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine) who both caucus with the Democrats. That leaves the tie-breaking vote in the hands of Vice President-elect Harris.
Larry S. Gibson, professor of law at the University of Maryland and a legendary political strategist worked arduously from Maryland to organize dozens of volunteers and raise money on behalf of the Warnock and Ossoff campaigns.
“We sent to Georgia thousands of lawn signs, dollars, prayers, e-mails, postcards and other messages,” said Gibson in a Facebook post on Jan. 3. Specifically, according to Gibson, volunteers organized by him and others in Maryland were responsible for putting up lawn signs in at least 110 counties in Georgia, an effort that led to victory for Warnock and most likely victory for Ossoff as well.
“Baltimore was blessed to be a part of the formative experience of Senator-elect Raphael Warnock,” said the Rev. Alvin Hathaway, senior pastor at historic Union Baptist Church in West Baltimore. Hathaway worked closely with Warnock on numerous occasions during his time in Baltimore.
“He (Warnock) became the pastor of Douglas Memorial Community Church when I was called to Union Baptist Church in 2004. He and I bonded as servants in the faith…We were all excited when he was called to Ebenezer Baptist, he is a worthy successor to that historic pulpit. The United States Senate will now experience the oratorical excellence of a trained Baptist preacher and the world will now understand the unique role of the Black church.”
Senator-elect Warnock goes to Washington at one of the most tumultuous times in the nation’s history and in the wake of four years of arguably the most corrupt presidential administrations in American history.
“Washington has a choice to make, in fact all of us have a choice to make,” Warnock said. “Will we continue to divide, distract and dishonor one another? Or will we love our neighbors as we love ourselves?”
In an earlier edition of this article, we mistakenly identified the Rev. Raphael Warnock as the first First Black Senator from the South. While Senator-elect, the Rev. Raphael Warnock is the first African American from Georgia to hold that office, he is preceded as a senator from the south by the Rev. Hiram Rhodes Revels, who, for one year, 1870 to 1871, represented Mississippi in the Senate.
The AFRO regrets this error.