I am Georgia. I am an example and an iteration of its history. Of its pain, and its promise, and the brutality and the possibility. But because this is America, because we always have a path to make our country greater against unspeakable odds, here we stand together — the Rev.Raphael Gamaliel Warnock, in the speech below, delivered shortly after the Associated Press declared him the winner in the campaign for United States Senator from the state of Georgia …for the fourth time.
Below, video and transcript
Wow. Hello everybody. Thank you Georgia. Thank you. I love you, too. All right, y’all settle down. I want to say thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And to God be the glory, for the great things that God has done. And after a hard-fought campaign — or should I say campaigns? –.it is my honor to utter the four most powerful words ever spoken in a democracy: The people have spoken.
I often say that a vote is a kind of prayer for the world we desire for ourselves and for our children. Voting is faith put into action. And Georgia, you have been praying with your lips and your legs, with your hands and your feet, your heads and your hearts. You have put in the hard work. And here we are standing together. I want to say thank you.
I want to say thank you to my mother who is here tonight. You will see her in a little while, but she grew up in the 1950’s in Waycross, Georgia picking somebody else’s cotton and somebody else’s tobacco. But tonight, she helped pick her younger son to be a United States Senator. My dad has long since passed into the night, but he is still very much with us. I watched my dad, a pastor and small businessman, take care of his family by working really hard with his hands. And using his brain. And he picked up old junk cars and loaded them on the back of a rig, the mechanisms of which he designed himself, one on top of the other. And that’s how he took care of his family. But on Sunday morning, the man who lifted broken cars lifted broken people, and convinced them of their value. I would not be here were it not for them.
I am a proud son of Savannah, Georgia, a city known for its town squares and cobblestone streets. Tall, majestic oak trees. dripping with spanish moss. My roots, like the roots of those oak trees, go deep down into the soil of Savannah and they stretch wide in the soil of Waycross, Georgia, and Burke County and Screven County. I am Georgia. I am an example and an iteration of its history. Of its pain, and its promise, and the brutality and the possibility. But because this is America, because we always have a path to make our country greater, against unspeakable odds, here we stand together.
Thank you, Georgia.
I want to thank my mother and my late father. I want to thank my siblings who are here, i am one of 12 in my family. Clearly, my folks read the Bible , be fruitful and multiply. My family was short on money but long on love and faith. And i want to thank my two darling children. Chloe and Caleb. Whose brilliance inspires me to work for all of our children.
Georgia, I don’t want you to miss what you have done in a moment when folks are trying to divide our country, and those forces are very much at work right now. Georgia did an amazing thing. In 2021, it sent its first African-American and Jewish senator to the United States Senate.
And you have done it again.
Thank you, Georgia.
Now there are those who look at the outcome of this race, and say that [someone yells out “we won”] yes, you are right, we won. But there are those who look at the outcome of this race and say there is no voter suppression in Georgia. Let me be clear, just because people endured long lines that wrapped around buildings, some blocks long. Just because they endured the rain and the cold, and all kinds of tricks in order to vote doesn’t mean that voter suppression does not exist. It simply means you the people have decided your voices will not be silenced.
Let us not forget that when we entered this runoff, a vestige of the ugly side of our complicated American story, state officials said we could not vote on Saturday. But we sued them and we won. And as the people once again rose up, a multiracial, multireligious coalition of conscience, you endured the rain, the long lines, and you voted. And you did it because you believe as I do, that democracy is the political enactment of a spiritual idea. The notion each of us has within the spark of the divine, that we were created in the image of God. And if you are not into that kind of religious language, that’s fine. Our tent is big. Let me put it this way: Each of us has value. And if we have value, we ought to have a voice. And the way to have a voice is to have a vote to determine the direction of your country, and your destiny within it.
We stand here tonight on broad shoulders. Our ballot is a bloodstained ballot. We are standing on the shoulders of the martyrs, Schwerner, Chaney & Goodman, two Jews and an African-American who lost their lives fighting for that great American right to vote. Viola Luizzo, James Reeb, a white sister and brother who also lost their lives. Fannie Lou Hamer, that indomitable Mississippi sharecropper. And my parishioner, God bless his memory, John Lewis, who one day crossed a bridge, knowing that there was danger on the other side. And yet he crossed that bridge while building a bridge for the future. And now it is on us, the latest generation of Americans and Georgians, to keep building that bridge. To keep walking that long walk. Pushing the nation towards our ideals.
And so Georgia, this is my promise to you. The work we must do is difficult. The issues are not simple, they are complex. But here’s my promise to you: I will walk with you even as I work for you. Because here is what I’ve learned as a pastor. You can’t lead the people unless you love the people. You can’t love the people unless you know the people, and you can’t know the people unless you walk among the people. You cannot serve me if you cannot see me. And so, during these difficult days, even as i work on specific public policy proposals, and work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get those bills passed. I just want you to know that I see you. I see you, parents, as you try to put your kids through college, and technical college. I see you, essential workers, fighting for a livable wage to participate in the prosperity you create for others. Farmers who are an answer to our most basic prayer, give us this day our daily bread. And yes, they struggle to hold onto the farm. Farmers, I see you, and I am here with you.
And together we can work through all these issues. I want all of Georgia to know, whether you voted for me or not..I want all of Georgia to know, whether you voted for me or not, that every single day I am going to keep working for you. I’m proud of the bipartisan work I have done, and I intend to do more, because i believe that at the end of the day, we are all Americans, and it is that covenant that drives me to work to lower costs . Lower the cost of prescription drugs. Create jobs all across our state. To address the issue of criminal justice reform. Because I believe you can have justice and safety at the same time. So thank you for this high honor. After a hard-fought campaign, you’ve got me for six more years.
Thank you. Let me quickly do a couple of things. [thanks staff et al] And I want to thank the amazing people of Ebenezer Baptist Church, who amidst the attacks, stuck with their pastor. Thank you, Ebenezer Church. So, let’s celebrate for a little while. Let’s dance on the mountain because we deserve this. But tomorrow we go back down into the valley to do the work. I know that the days are still difficult. The times are dark, but the light, the scripture says, shines in the darkness. And the darkness overcometh it no
Some of you have heard me tell the story many times of how my dad would wake me up every morning, 6am, no matter what time of year, no matter what day of the week, he’d say “Son, get dressed, put your shoes on.” Well Georgia, I’m up, I’m dressed, I’m ready and I’ve got my shoes on. And I am so honored that you have placed your confidence in me one more time.
From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU! God bless you.
Keep the faith! Keep looking up.