By C.C. Campbell-Rock

After accepting The Source Award in 1998, Andre 3000 of the Atlanta-based musical duo, Outkast, uttered prophet words. “The South has something to say,” he quipped about the growing number of southern based hip hop artists wending their way up the musical charts.  

Even before hip-hop, Georgia’s black community spoke out against injustice, structural racism, and voter suppression. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his father MLK, Sr. preached at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and MLK, Jr. gathered together those who would launch the modern Civil Rights Movement.

In 2020, the South has spoken loud and clear, again. Protesters in Atlanta and other parts of Georgia took to the streets to assert that Black Lives Matter in the wake of the senseless murder of Ahmaud Marquez Arbery. Unarmed, Aubrey was fatally shot while jogging near Brunswick, Georgia on February 23, 2020. Father and son white supremacists killed him.  Arbery was only 25 years old.

The subsequent police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor brought Georgia protesters back to the streets.

Black Voter Turnout Historic

On November 3, 2020, Georgia’s black voters turned out in massive numbers and chose former Vice-President Joe Biden and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris to become the next President and Vice-President of the United States. In doing so, they flipped the once reliably southern state blue. Black voters and other communities of color and progressive whites are credited with electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

The fate of the U.S. Senate and President-Elect Biden’s agenda is now in the hands of Georgia’s voters. On January 5, 2021, Georgia voters will decide which two candidates will represent them in the U.S. Senate.

On the January 5 ballot are Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock and Senator Kelly Loeffler(R-GA). Warnock is current pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. He recieved 32.9% of the vote so far (the recount is on in Georgia). Loeffler was appointed to the seat by Republican Governor Brian Kemp and received 25.9 percent.

Incumbent Senator David Perdue (R-GA) received 49.7 percent of the vote. Democrat Jon Ossoff was at 48.0 percent (Libertarian Shane Hazel took the remaining 2.3 percent.) They will also face off on January 5.

To say that the Georgia election results shocked the GOP into reality, is putting it mildly. Obviously, they are oblivious to the changing demographics in the United States.

Black voters made up 11% of the national electorate. 9 in 10 of them supported Biden, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of more than 110,000 voters nationwide.

“By overwhelmingly backing Biden and showing up in strong numbers, Black voters not only helped deliver familiar battleground states to the Democrat, but they also created a new one in the longtime GOP bastion of Georgia — potentially remaking presidential politics for years to come,” according to the Associated Press.

Shifting Demographics

In 2019, Georgia’s population was 57.8% White (51.8% Non-Hispanic White and 5.9% Hispanic White). 52.0 percent white (alone) 32.6% Black or African American. Hispanic or Latino, 4.4%, Asian, 3.0% Some Other Race, 0.4% Native American and Alaskan Native, 0.5%. Pacific Islander, 0.1%, and 2.2% from two or more races.

However, Georgia’s blue hue is the result of a 10-year long voting rights campaign. Former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is the driving force. She founded the voting rights organizations, Fair Fight and The New Georgia Project. They helped to register at least 800,000 Georgians and helped them to get to the polls.

Abrams said on ABC’s “The View” last Thursday that her work fighting voter suppression was key to getting Georgia to turn blue in the presidential race.

“That fight is what I think helped make the difference because voters who wanted to be heard had the ability this time to actually make it through the gauntlet, get to the ballot box and cast their votes,” she said. “But this work did not happen overnight.”

Abrams said of the Secretary of State’s recount, “We know that Joe Biden is going to be, not only the president of the United States, but the first president in 30 years from the Democratic party to carry Georgia.”

“We need to reconsider this election not as a past runoff for Georgia Senate, but as the Doug Jones of 2020, where we know that the essential nature of this election changes the future of our country, protects health care, protects access to jobs and protects access to justice,” Abrams said.

Jones narrowly won his 2017 Alabama bid to replace former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. However, the lone democratic senator from the Deep South lost his 2020 election to Republican Tommy Tuberville, the popular former Auburn University football coach, who was endorsed by Trump.

Loeffler and Perdue didn’t hesitate to eat their own, though, just as Tuberville did with Sessions, during the 2020 Republican primary, when Session lost in his bid to return to the Senate. They both pounced on Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, demanding that he resign while citing “mismanagement and lack of transparency” as the reason for their demand, but they did not produce evidence for either, according to CNBC. 

Blacks in Georgia are not very fond of Loeffler, a co-owner of an W.N.B.A. team, the Atlanta Dream. In July 2020, the W.N.B.A. announced that its season would be “dedicated to social justice with games honoring the Black Lives Matter Movement and the #SAYHERNAME campaign. Loeffler accused the BLM of harboring “anti-Semitic views” and promoting “violence and destruction across the country.”

Candidate Information

Natasha Cloud, a Washington Mystics player who opted out of the 2020 season to focus on issues of social justice, tweeted about Loffler, “Get her weak ass out of our league…For her to come out and say that we’re divisive and that the Black Lives Matter Movement is a divisive organization, I call her BS on that.”

Loeffler grew up on a farm in Illinois and is married to Jeffrey Sprecher, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. But her status as one of the richest senators in Washington and her ride or die loyalty to Donald J. Trump Sr. didn’t seem to impress a majority of Georgia voters. Loeffler denied knowing about Trump’s Access Hollywood tape and she recently donated to his recount fundraiser.

“She gleefully accepts the endorsement of a candidate who traffics in the QAnon conspiracy theory that is rife with hatred and bigotry,” said Warnock about his opponent. “It is shameful.”

Perdue and Ossoff

Candidates differences are dramatic

Ossoff is an investigative journalist and politician. The Atlanta native interned for Georgia Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis, while in high school. After college, Ossoff worked as a national security staffer and aide Congressman Hank Johnson (GA) for five years.

Perdue has served in the Senate since 2015. Before entering politics, he served as CEO of Reebok, Pillowtex, and Dollar General. However, black people will remember Perdue and his racist parody of Kamala Harris’s first name. “Kama-lama-lama, whatever her name is,” he said at a Trump rally.

During a debate, Ossoff took Republican Senator David Perdue to task for his failure to support The Heroes Act. “It’s that you’re attacking the health of the people that you represent.” Purdue opted out of their last scheduled debate, opting instead to attend a rally with Trump. However, the news media say Perdue cancelled after Ossoff’s  comments about him went viral. Ossoff slammed his opponent for attacking Ossoff’s Jewish heritage and called him a ‘crook’ who downplayed the coronavirus pandemic.

The fate of the nation is in the hands of Georgia’s voters. Will they defy current polls which have both Republicans in the lead? Will the U.S. Senate remain red? 

The South has something to say, indeed.

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