Savannah reacts to Warnock victory
Warnock wins Georgia, Loeffler does not concede
Democrat Raphael Warnock won one of two Georgia Senate polls on Wednesday, becoming the first black senator in his state’s history. He beat Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, who did not concede Wednesday morning. (January 6)
Raphael Warnock, a born and raised son of Savannah, was elected to the United States Senate on Tuesday, the first black man to hold the post in Georgian history.
It is a historic moment. Warnock is also Savannah’s first Senator since John M. Berrien was elected for his third term in 1847.
Warnock is the 11th of 12 children, all raised by devout Christian parents in Savannah. His father was a junkman who preached on Sundays; her mother, also a pastor, still lives in Savannah. They lived in social housing – Kayton Homes on West Gwinnett.
He graduated from Sol C. Johnson High School, then Morehouse College – earning his bachelor’s degree with Pell scholarships and low-interest student loans – before earning his doctorate at Union Theological Seminary of New York.
Warnock served as a pastor in churches in Manhattan and Baltimore before becoming the fifth senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2005, preaching from the chair of Martin Luther King Jr.
In campaign speeches, Warnock called his family dynamic “lack of money but long love”.
And that love sank on Wednesday. Warnock’s friends and family were overjoyed to learn that he had defeated Kelly Loeffler in a hotly contested second round of the Senate.
When Georgia State Senator Lester Jackson woke up Wednesday morning he had received 63 texts – all of the people asking for Warnock’s number, hoping to call him and congratulate him.
Jackson and Warnock have known each other for a while. Jackson’s mother taught at Johnson High School and had Warnock as a student when he was younger.
Jackson said that whenever he met Warnock in Atlanta they weren’t called “Senator Jackson” and “Reverend Warnock”, they called each other “the boy at home.”
“I’m just happy to say my homeboy is in the United States Senate,” Jackson said with a laugh.
Warnock understands the needs of coastal Georgia, Jackson said, and he understands the struggles of working-class Americans and those who live on paychecks.
“[Warnock’s election] says we bring new, young and fresh ideas to the United States Senate. Not only that, we bring in a person who understands coastal Georgia. He is not only from this region, but he is from this region – raised in public schools, raised in public housing, clearly coming from a working class community.
Jackson, who historically attended Black Paine College in Augusta, said having a graduate from an HBCU service in the Senate was invaluable. Warnock attended Morehouse College in Atlanta.
“It means a lot to someone from a historically black college and university to be in the United States Senate. It says a lot for someone to speak on behalf of historically black colleges and universities,” said Jackson. “Reverend Warnock’s message resonates throughout Georgia, with people of different backgrounds and cultures. And I’m just happy that I can call him my friend.”
As Warnock’s victory early Wednesday morning reverberated through black communities in Georgia, the news stirred emotions among other Morehouse men such as Nelson A. Henry, a 41-year-old Detroit native and graduate of the institution in 2001.
“We are all proud, but more than just proud and seated and spectators. When you’ve had this camaraderie of people knocking on doors, attending rallies, donating money, making sure we tag and post on social media and use our platform, it’s not just because it’s Brother Morehouse, ”Henry mentioned. “But let’s look at the light and the references of this brother. It has been serving from the start. It’s just another platform for him to serve.
For Henry, Warnock’s victory historically puts black colleges and universities in the spotlight for black leadership: “Not only are the HBCUs preparing us for the real world, but we’re really ready to rule the world.
Warnock is part of a pioneering fraternity for black men – think former President Barack Obama and his compatriot Morehouse and late Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson – which Nelson says puts him in new territory.
“There is no leader, it’s you. You are the pioneer. You have to bear the brunt of everything else, ”he said. “But I think he will stand up for Georgian citizens.”
For Shawn Walton, an Atlanta native and Morehouse alum, Warnock’s victory inspired him to complete his seminary education.
“I’ve always wanted to make a change,” said Walton, 35, who owns a nonprofit food organization in Atlanta. “Moral leaders are needed.
In many ways, Walton sees himself in Warnock: a man of honor who was raised by a single mother in an impoverished community.
Morehouse alum David Price, 45, said Warnock’s victory story could speak to black men in similar situations.
“We have black leaders, but sometimes they may not be relatable in terms of the reality of going into the trenches where we’ve been. I think it brings a different level of relativity, ”Price said. “And you know, he’s a pastor. It obviously brings another level of good and bad for black men, because sometimes we’ve had a contempt for the church. I think maybe that’s another chance. for maybe even the church to give a different voice that may not be heard regularly.
Calm, then chaos
The morning of Warnock’s victory began calmly, but by the afternoon countless residents across the United States watched the United States Capitol being stormed by a crowd as Congress debated certification of the general election count.
The scene was distressing for Michael Tyler, 66. What gave him hope was believing that the newly elected Warnock would play a role in healing the nation.
“I am worried about our democracy,” Tyler said. “I watch CNN as we speak and see unprecedented footage, but it truly is a weird day of jubilation after Senator-elect Warnock won. But at the same time, just seeing this act of insurgency fomented by the president is very disturbing.
Tyler sees the unrest as an opportunity to unite a country divided by political and racial unrest and a deadly pandemic.
“Warnock is precisely the kind of leader that is desperately needed right now, to call the country for a restoration of morality and a greater commitment to the common good and the principles of justice and equality,” said Tyler. “Given his life’s work, as pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, the plea that he has always articulated from the pulpit, to seek greater societal justice, I think he will essentially become the pastor of the nation from the pulpit of the Senate chamber. “
While Tyler is proud of Warnock’s victory, he also sees it as significant as he plays a role in ensuring that the new Biden administration gets its agenda items passed, especially the pandemic items.
“What I want to see reverberate is very effective COVID relief in terms of a much larger and comprehensive rollout of vaccines, I want to see economic relief from the economic impact of the pandemic, and I see Reverend Warnock be able to help achieve it.
‘Hard work pays off’
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson was tired. He stayed up until 4 a.m. when Tuesday evening turned into Wednesday morning. He watched the results arrive, responding to calls from Chatham County poll workers returning home before all the votes were counted.
Johnson was one of 16 Democratic voters in Georgia who voted for Biden, and he said he was proud of the “evolution and awakening of Georgia” manifested nationally in recent months.
“It shows that Savannah and Coastal Georgia have featured prominently in this process and we will no longer be forgotten, ignored or ignored,” Johnson said. “By anyone.”
Johnson said that Warnock’s rise from social housing to the seat of the US Senate is not just a point of pride, but something the younger generation can learn from – an example of the promise that “hard work bearing fruit”.
“Public housing is for our less fortunate citizens,” Johnson said. “For those less fortunate to see that this young man can grow up, earn a doctorate, be recognized around the world, assume the Dr. King chair and now become Georgia’s first African-American senator, that’s a story. inspiring to all Savannahians – that nothing is impossible.
Will Peebles is the corporate reporter for Savannah Morning News. He can be reached at [email protected] and @willpeeblessmn on Twitter.
Raisa Habersham is the Watchdog and Investigative Journalist for Savannah Morning News. She can be reached at [email protected]