Raphael Warnock's victory speech honors mother's "82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else's cotton"
Senator-elect Reverend Raphael Warnock was projected the winner against incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler early Wednesday morning, and will become Georgia's first Black senator. In his live-streamed victory speech, he honored his mother, who once picked cotton in the Jim Crow South.
"The other day, because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else's cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator," Warnock said in the heartfelt address. "The improbable journey that led to me to this place in this historic moment in America could only happen here."
CBS News projected early Wednesday that Warnock defeated Loeffler in the Senate runoff election. The other race, between incumbent GOP Senator David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff, was too close to call Wednesday morning.
Warnock, a reverend from Savannah, Georgia, became senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta in 2005. The late Rep. John Lewis had attended the church — the same one where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached.
Warnock said his "roots are planted deeply in Georgia." His father was a veteran, a small businessman and a preacher, and his mother spent summer picking tobacco and cotton while growing up in Waycross, Georgia. A graduate of Morehouse College, he is one of 12 children.
Only 10 African Americans have served in the U.S. Senate before Warnock. Exit polls show Warnock got strong support from Black voters, receiving 92% of their votes.
"I'm just so very grateful to the people of Georgia," Warnock said on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday. "They sent a strong and clear message last night when they sent a person who grew up in public housing, one of 12 children in my family, I'm the first college graduate. That I am serving in the United States Senate in a few days pushes against the grain of so many expectations. But this is America."
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