Rev. Raphael Warnock makes history in another show of strength from Black voters in Georgia
Warnock defeated incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler in one of two vital Senate runoffs in the Peach State for Democrats.
Shortly after 4 a.m. on the morning of Jan 6, Rev. Raphael Warnock was declared the victor by Associated Press in his Senate runoff race in Georgia against incumbent, Kell Loeffler.
As counting continued, he had 50.6% of the vote and a lead of about 53,000 over Loeffler.
Once again, Georgia has proven itself to be quite the game changer this election season.
In November, President-elect Joe Biden became the first Democrat to win the state since 1992. Now, Rev. Raphael Warnock will become the first Black senator from Georgia, and secures another vital blue seat for his party in the Senate.
Before the AP declared his race, Warnock expressed gratitude towards his supporters in a speech delivered via a video link.
“We were told that we couldn’t win this election. But tonight we proved that with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible,” he said.
Warnock is also the first Georgia Democrat to be elected to the Senate in 20 years, and his success can certainly be attributed to the years of voter registration drives conducted by former state House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, and other grassroots activists.
When most people think of the rural south, white Republicans typically come to mind.
But in reality, the south has a dense Black population, and for too long, their voices have been suppressed. Georgia has the fourth largest Black population in the United States, making up 34% of the state total, according to the 2017 Census Bureau.
Over the last few months, Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project, which was founded by Stacey Abrams, knocked on millions of doors, called, texted and held in-depth conversations with voters across the state.
On Jan. 6, Ufot posted a celebration of the win on Twitter.
“The nation is realizing what we have known all along: Georgia is a battleground state. Thanks to the relentless work done toward investing in and turning out voters of color,” she wrote.
Beyond the organizers, many took to Twitter to reflect on the crucial and powerful the Black vote.
Co-founder of the organization Black Voters Matter, LaTosha Brown, was interviewed on live TV this morning, wrote “My 86 year old Aunt just called me and said that she saw me on CNN and she wanted to share with me that this is the first time in her life that she feels like her vote actually matters. She said, “Tosha you make me feel like Black people can win.”
In addition to harnessing the power of the Black vote, women of color activists were also working tirelessly in their communities in attempts to flip the Senate blue.
Esther Lim, civic engagement director of Asian-Americans Advancing Justice in Atlanta, doubled down on making voter information more accessible to immigrant communities through the use of ethnically-specific social media platforms like WeChat and KakaoTalk.
The group also translated information into their native languages and pushed out ads in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and South Asian newspapers.
Tania Unzueta Carrasco, the political director of the Latino organization, Mijente, was also able to reach out to Georgia’s Latino population through similar strategies — eliminating language barriers and pushing out ads through Spanish-language newspapers and radio stations.
“We’re micro-targeting, meaning we’re trying to figure out what messages work better with certain segments of the community, whether it’s young people, women, folks of Puerto Rican or Mexican descent,” she told Refinery 29.
From Gen-Z to BIPOC citizens, the work of activists and the enthusiastic spirit of voters, Georgia has proved that democracy is alive and well.