Blackity Black History Month: ATL Icon Raphael Warnock

Blackity Black History Month: ATL Icon Raphael Warnock

“He created a lot of trouble for himself in the process. Telling the truth will get you in trouble, yet there can be no transformation without truth. We cannot and we will not change until we confront or are confronted by the sickness of our own situation. That applies to individuals, that applies to institutions, that applies to nations."

— Senator Raphael Warnock, preaching about John the Baptist in his first online sermon since being elected to the U.S. Senate

Reverend Raphael Warnock (born July 23, 1969) was elected as the junior United States senator from Georgia in a hotly contested runoff election early this year. The Democrat and Atlanta icon assumed office on January 20, 2021.

He grew up in public housing as the eleventh of twelve children born to Verlene and Jonathan Warnock, both Pentecostal pastors. Warnock was the senior pastor of Douglas Memorial Community Church until 2005, when he became senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta — Martin Luther King Jr.'s former church. He came to prominence in Georgia politics as a leading activist in the campaign to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Warnock defeated Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler in the runoff, and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff won the runoff for Georgia's other Senate seat against Republican David Perdue on the same day, giving Democrats control of the U.S. Senate. With 50 senators from each party, Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaking vote, giving Democrats the edge.

Warnock and Ossoff are the first Democrats elected to the U.S. Senate from Georgia since Zell Miller in 2000. Warnock is the first African American to represent Georgia in the Senate and the first African-American Democrat elected to a Senate seat by a former state of the Confederacy.


Each day this month, we'll be sharing wise words from Black Atlanta icons — some who are household names and some who you may not know. Atlanta history IS Black history, and this is our way of sharing it.