– Sen. Raphael Warnock
(D-Ga.) was elected the day before supporters of former President Donald Trump
stormed the U.S. Capitol to prevent Joe Biden
’s presidential victory from being certified.
's first Black senator, was born while his state was still represented by segregationists; he won in a runoff election
system created by racists during the Jim Crow era; and he is currently supporting voting rights
legislation that is being blocked by a Senate
procedure that has long been used to stymie civil rights
progress in the United States
On Friday, moments after Senate Republicans
used their first filibuster
of Biden's presidency to halt debate on a bill to create a bipartisan commission
to investigate the Jan. 6 attack
, Warnock stood in a Senate hallway not far from where a mob of Trump supporters
chased Capitol Police
Officer Eugene Goodman up the stairs after the attack, Warnock reflected on the moment.
“Sometimes we are in the midst of a defining historical moment, and we miss the magnitude of it all,” said Warnock, pastor of Atlanta
’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
grew up listening to his father preach.
“I think there were some people
who slept through the civil rights movement, quite frankly, who didn’t understand that in a real sense it was a fight to save the country. Not just the South, not just Black people, but the country,” Warnock said. “We are in a renewed, 21st-century fight to defend our democracy
so that we can leave a future worthy of all our children
According to Warnock, the country is in the midst of a “historic abandonment” of the “basic democratic framework” in statehouses across the country, as supporters of former President Trump move to pass restrictive voting laws as a result of his election lies. Jan. 6 was not only a violent physical
attack on the United States Capitol, but it was also “an attack on the votes
of the people of Georgia and people all over the country.”
“We are all here as representatives of a democracy that people on the other side have decided they are unwilling to defend. Some things should be bigger than politics
. This is about truth,” Warnock said.
“It’s ironic that this would happen [on Memorial Day
] weekend, because all of us will return to our home districts and celebrate great patriots who paid the ultimate price to defend our democracy on bloody battlefields, and we have politicians who aren’t even willing to stand up on the Senate floor for what is obviously right,” he added.
According to Warnock, January 6
was “an unabashed exercise in attempted disenfranchisement, and now we have seen that attack metastasize to state capitals all across the country” as Trump-supporting legislatures across the country pass legislation making it more difficult to vote because their supporters believe the former president’s lies about a stolen election.
“This is a watershed moment, and someone needs to stand up and defend our democracy,” Warnock said.
“The integrity of democracy is at stake,” Warnock said. “Let’s have arguments about the size of government, let’s have arguments about health care
, taxes, education
, but what has made this country work, with all of those challenges, is that we have a general framework in which those arguments take place, and what we are witnessing right now is a historic abandonment of that framework.”