In spite of the dark clouds of an attempted coup, a bright moment drew applause from political scholars, activists and educators Tuesday: Triumph for Democrats in the drive to control the White House and both chambers of the United States Congress.

“We know that the power in Washington, D.C., is changing by the day,” Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) and the Black Women’s Roundtable, said at a webinar.

She and the other Black activists who gathered virtually talked about how the Jan. 5 runoff election victories of Rev. Ralph Warnock and Jon Ossoff marked what Campbell called a “historical day” of political empowerment of those disenfranchised.

Both won Senate seats, defeating Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

“Rev. Raphael Warnock was elected by the people of Georgia to serve the state in the U.S. Senate and we also want you to know that Jon Ossoff, the son of Jewish immigrants, was also elected to serve the people of Georgia in the U.S. Senate,” Campbell said.

Warnock was elected to serve out the remaining two years of former Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who resigned at the end of 2019. But he has no plans to leave the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and last Sunday he was in the pulpit where Martin Luther King Jr. got his start.

“As a teenager growing up in Waycross, Ga., my mom used to pick somebody else’s cotton, but the other day she went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator,” said Warnock during his sermon Sunday. “That’s a glimpse of God’s glory. That’s a glimpse of God’s justice.”

Warnock’s celebration is the result of the work done by a legion of volunteers who said Tuesday that they were groomed by the late Rev. Joseph Lowery, the former head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Rev. James Orange and other civil rights veterans who are now deceased.

“This is what we have been working on for decades. I am just feeling that 4.4 million exercised their right to vote,” said Helen Butler, executive director of Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda. “I am elated that we showed up and our numbers help to make it happen.”

Deborah Scott, executive director of Georgia Stand-Up, said “what was special for us was to have the support from other Black women who said we will make calls for you, we have learned some things, we will teach a masters class on coalition politics and how we work together.”

Mary Pat Hector, state coordinator of Georgia Youth Vote, said many of the election protection monitors were college students who were part of a bond of love.

“Many of them said, ‘I didn’t know what an election protection monitor was, I didn’t know what ballot curing was,’” Hector said. “We allowed them opportunities to grow.”

Felecia Davis, convener of the Clayton County Georgia Black Women’s Roundtable, said, “When we put our sneakers up on Tuesday, Jan. 5, we had won. We knocked on doors, we made calls on the last day, we bumped into each other on the last day because we had got it done.”

Ariel Singleton, state coordinator of the Georgia Black Youth Vote, it was inspiring to see young leaders take their voice.

“I’m very excited that as a young woman to have multiple women not to hold our hands but to propel us forward to be ready for this power shift,” Singleton said.

Rev. Jarad Sawyer, 23, state coordinator of Georgia Black Youth Vote, called the victories “unbelievable and inspiring,”

“I feel like I was part of history,” Sawyer said. “I have two words: unbelief and inspiring. Many Black people as though they were part of history and we actually made history and it is going to create a momentum that will continue to drive Black people to the polls.”

Earlier Tuesday, Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick held a webinar on the future impact of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, in which several faculty members participated.

“It is not lost on me that Black women carried this carried this election,” said Frederick, adding that little girls will be inspired by Harris’ win for decades to come.

Jennifer Thomas, associate professor in the Cathy Hughes School of Journalism, said she is challenging her students to not just take the story they think they know at face value.

“I am challenging my students to dig deeper and don’t tell shallow stories,” she said.

Thomas, who is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, said it is important to make sure that Harris is given an honest assessment in the media.

“My hope is that we tell those stories that impact the community,” she added.

Frederick also said he hopes that with a new sense of power that the Democrats and those who serve will remember the least and disenfranchised in the community.

“We have to see the humanity in people at the end of the day,” he said.

Avatar photo

Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *