Posted on January 7, 2021

Raphael Warnock Becomes Georgia’s First Black Senator

David Smith, The Guardian, January 6, 2021

The Ebenezer Baptist church in Atlanta has witnessed tides of history ebb and flow during its 134 years. Martin Luther King Jr, the civil rights leader, often preached here. Now its pastor, Raphael Warnock, has added a new chapter by becoming the first African American senator from Georgia.


Warnock, 51, defeated Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler, an ardent Trump supporter who boasted she was more conservative than Attila the Hun. In a speech to his supporters on Wednesday, Warnock paid tribute to his 82-year-old mother, Verlene Warnock, who as a young woman spent summers on a south Georgia farm picking cotton and tobacco.

Georgia, where about a third of the population is Black, voted Democratic at November’s presidential election for the first time since 1992 and is on the verge of delivering the Democrats control of the Senate. It has seen years of voter registration efforts, including to engage liberals from other states who moved to Atlanta for work.

It is a state, and a region, in cultural, demographic and political transition. Georgia was a linchpin of the Confederacy during the civil war and bears the scars of slavery, segregation and hundreds of lynchings. {snip}

It is now home to a booming TV and film industry dubbed the “Hollywood of the South”. Once famous for local author Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, the superhero movie Black Panther, which proved a huge hit with African American cinemagoers, is now a more fitting symbol.

After voting on a sunny but crisp Tuesday, Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff, who worked as an intern for Lewis, stood under a tree outside a community centre and told reporters: “I’m a John Lewis Democrat, I’m a civil rights Democrat and that’s the kind of Democrat that’s running in the south right now.

“Think about how far we’ve come in the American south that the Democratic standard bearers in these races are the young Jewish son of an immigrant and a Black pastor who holds Dr King’s pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist church. That is the new south.”