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New Year, New Senate: Raphael Warnock’s Victory = Victory for the Black Community

On the evening of Jan. 5th, 2021, Raphael Warnock defeated Kelly Leoffler in a Special Election for the US Senate making him the first Georgia Democrat to be elected to the Senate in 20 years and the first Black US senator from Georgia. 

The nation paid close watch on his campaign against Leoffler and Jon Ossoff’s campaign against David Perdue because in the event that Warnock and Ossoff were successful, democrats would control the Senate, making it easier for President-Elect Joe Biden to push his agenda. 

While Warnock’s victory was a big win for democrats, it was also a win for Black Americans. 

“Brother Rev. Dr. Warnock’s victory was a huge accomplishment for the black community because it’s an indication that our political system is accepting of people occupying positions no matter their color or background. It also is important because our community is showing up at the polls and caring about our issues. It’s evident that our community of blacks alone isn’t in this fight. Our counterparts from other communities are hearing and seeing our struggles and supporting our representation in high government roles so we can be further seen and heard,” said Andy Nerestant a member of the Upsilon Theta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated at Florida Atlantic University. 

Raphael Warnock is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated which has deep ties to the Black community through their scholarship and service. 

“It feels amazing to see a fellow brother accomplish something so monumental. Since its inception, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated has been at the forefront of social change in America. Witnessing Brother Rev. Dr. Warnock become the first African American senator of Georgia just adds to the long resume of our illustrious fraternity. It also opens the doors for not only our brotherhood but our counterparts of Black men and women of the like. It’s important to open up those doors for our communities so we can strive for our fraternity’s mission statement,” said Nerestant. 

Warnock’s journey to the Senate is the epitome of the “American Dream”. Born and raised in Savannah, Ga., Warnock and his 11 siblings grew up in public housing, his mother was a sharecropper, and his father was a church pastor, World War 2 veteran, and a small business owner. In a campaign video, he explained his family’s financial struggles and admitted that his upbringing was unconventional.

“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,” Warnock said in a live-streamed address. “The improbable journey that led me to this place in this historic moment in America could only happen here.”

Warnock has been a political advocate in both his ministry and community. He’s worked on expanding the Affordable Care Act, protecting minority voting rights, opposing the death penalty, and supporting abortion rights and same-sex marriage. 

Rev. Warnock is a senior pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, the same church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. served as co-pastor. After years of leadership positions in Alabama, Maryland, and New York, Warnock became the youngest pastor of Ebenezer at 35. On Wednesday, he said that he will continue to preach on Sunday mornings at Ebenezer, “The last thing I want to do is become disconnected from the community and just spend all of my time talking to the politicians. I might accidentally become one,” Warnock told CNN on Wednesday.

He always admired Dr. King, another Georgia native, making that one of the reasons why he attended Morehouse College, a historically Black men’s college that MLK also attended. 

Following a year filled with racial turmoil, it has never been more clear that America needs more Black people in positions of power.

“It’s vital to have people of color in the government because representation in politics is something people of color don’t have enough of currently.  Having these individuals to represent minorities means that there are people who understand our struggles on a more personal level and can make decisions that benefit our community better,” said Nerestant. 

Raphael Warnock will officially take office no later than Jan. 22nd. With the House and the Senate being controlled by the Democratic Party, Georgians and fellow Americans are eager to see what Warnock accomplishes in his coveted position. 

“I hope to see action with his plan in Criminal Justice Reform. His platform focuses on ending mass incarceration and increasing accountability for police departments involved in senseless gun violence. With Democrats now having the majority in the house and senate, I would like to see him capitalize on prioritizing the needs of our communities that have been muted by leaders like Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump,” said Nerestant.