The South had something to say on Tuesday night as results from the Georgia Senate runoffs rolled in and wins were later announced for two Democrats: Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
The senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta defeated Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), giving Georgia a Democratic Senate seat for the first time in over a decade. With the win, Warnock also became the first Black senator to represent the state and only the 11th Black senator ever elected. Ossoff also made history, becoming the youngest senator in 40 years and the first Jewish senator elected to a Southern state since the 1880s.
Warnock gave a powerful victory speech, evoking the racism his mother faced in the Jim Crow South.
“The other day, because this is America, 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,” he said.
Folks on Black Twitter, including newly elected Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), civil rights activist Bernice King and activist Brittany Packnett, were quick to point out that this victory was made possible by the Black organizers who mobilized Georgia voters and the Black women who consistently show up and use their political power.
Warnock’s and Ossoff’s victories give the Democrats control of the Senate, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker vote.
Former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Black Voters Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown and other prominent Black women organizers were especially praised for their consistent work on the ground to register and empower voters across the state.
Brown told HuffPost that despite the fact that many social media users were uplifting Black people — and Black women specifically — for “saving America,” their votes weren’t cast with the intention of saving this country.
“We’re not doing this work for you, we’re doing this work for us and what Black folks did last night wasn’t about saving the Democratic Party, it wasn’t about saving America, it was about saving us,” Brown said. “And to the extent that wherever Black people have actually won, it makes things better for all of us, all of America. And so part of what is embedded into our experience is that as we literally have been on the frontlines of fighting for democracy, it’s not only been good for us but it’s been good for all of America.”
In a statement from Nsé Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project, where Warnock previously served as chair, she said that America is realizing that Georgia is a battleground state, something local Black organizers knew for years.
“We are undoing a history of voter suppression and injustice in Black and Brown communities. The changes we are seeing now didn’t happen overnight, and we are not solving our challenges with just one vote. “Over the last couple of months, the New Georgia Project Action Fund has knocked on millions of doors, called, texted, and held in-depth conversations with voters across Georgia. Organizers showed up, and the voters decided. We know that our community is ready for change. We are ready to fight COVID-19 and to be represented in the halls of power by real leadership.”
Social media lavished praise on Abrams, who founded the voting rights advocacy group Fair Fight Action after her controversial gubernatorial loss in 2016, for her work battling voter suppression and engaging citizens.
Users also gave a special shoutout to historically Black colleges and universities, noting that alumni from Morehouse College, Spelman College and Howard University now have major political representation in Warnock, Abrams and Harris, respectively.
Ufot said she has faith in Warnock to continue to focus on civil rights as he assumes his new position.
“I call on Senator-elect Warnock to make voting rights and democracy a top priority as he enters his term in the U.S. Senate,” her statement read. “As long as voter suppression efforts continue, our people risk being silenced. It’s time to make our most basic American right permanent: the right to vote, and the right to choose our elected officials.”