The Black Voters Who Defended Democracy in Georgia

It was about three in the afternoon of the election at the Pittman Park Recreational Center in Pittsburgh, a historically black neighborhood south of downtown Atlanta.

Lawrence Miller walked out of the polling station after the vote and let out a “Whoop!” A DJ playing mostly Atlanta rappers like YFN Lucci added to the bright atmosphere. The weather – which someone said felt like November 3rd, with no rain, clouds, or wind – made it easier to stop and talk.

So Miller set about giving a British reporter an impromptu class on US elections. “I was born in the 1960s,” said the 59-year-old, referring to the civil rights movement. “Race is the cornerstone of all politics in America.”

Miller lamented the “disgusting Republican commercials” attacking Rev. Raphael Warnock in recent weeks that linked the Senate Democratic candidate to socialism and anti-Americanism, often based on out of context excerpts of his sermons from the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church . These attacks were in line with those once directed against Martin Luther King Jr. Clayborne Carson, Stanford University historian and administrator of King’s Archives.

“That was like a death sentence,” said Carson. “But it didn’t work this time.”

Miller had voted for Warnock and Jon Ossoff, both of whom have now been confirmed by the state as winners of their races. In addition to placing the balance of power in the Senate in democratic hands, Georgian voters made history twice by electing the state’s first black senator and the first Jewish senator.

When I left Pittman just after 5 ClockWith almost two hours of voting time, the district had already exceeded the November 3 total. The same result was observed across the state, not just in the greater Atlanta area but also in what is known as the Black belt, a largely rural area of ​​the state stretching from Augusta on the eastern border with South Carolina to Columbus on the western border with Alabama. The number of black voters in the weeks of early voting was higher than in the same period before November, inclusive 48,711 who did not vote in the general election.

The black and brown turnout in the runoff election – and the results – made Carson think of a conversation he had in 1984 with Ronald Walters, a political scientist and advisor to Rev. Jesse Jackson in his presidential campaign at the time. “He said the Democratic Party’s intention to trap millions of white voters who went to the GOP was a stupid strategy and an unfortunate fate -[because] you have to become more like the GOP. “

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