Warnock rallies support at UGA 

An unfamiliar sight: an African American Georgia Senator standing in front of a larger-than-life American flag, practically preaching to his audience about who he is and what he stands for. 

At a campaign rally inside the University of Georgia’s Chapel on Oct. 20, U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock made this sight more familiar, speaking about his upbringing and how his parents impacted both his passion and work ethic.

REPRESENTING THE YOUTH: Warnock speaks at the Oct. 20 campaign rally. Warnock is known to represent more progressive policies like supporting abortion access and limiting gun control. “There is something about the idealism of youth. Old people can get senile, and you know when I say old people, I’m talking about old people like me,” Warnock said. Photo by Melanie Frick.

“My dad was a junk man and a preacher man. Literally,” Warnock said to the audience. “He picked up broken cars during the week and on Sunday morning, he preached to broken people. He convinced them of their value.”

SMILING SENATOR: Warnock smiles at the audience. As the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Warnock referenced Martin Luther King Jr. as a role model for his ideologies and success. “Long before I was the pastor for Ebenezer Baptist Church, long before I was a United States Senator, I was a kid growing up in public housing,” Warnock said. “I’m number 11 out of 12 (kids) and the first college graduate in my family.” Photo by Melanie Frick.

While talking about policies to support students who receive financial aid, Warnock recalled what he went through to obtain a degree. 

“Although I had a deep commitment to working hard, that alone does not put me on this stage as a United States Senator. Somebody gave me some Pell Grants and some low-interest student loans. I am so glad that someone left a ladder so I would have something to climb up,” Warnock said in his speech. “I haven’t forgotten how I made it, which is why I sponsor legislation to double the size of Pell Grants because I don’t think that a child’s outcome should be based on their parent’s income.”

NOT ENOUGH: A former law student at UGA, Georgia State Senator Jen Jordan spoke of the obstacles she had to overcome to get into politics, running for office in a Republican district. “In 2016, things felt different for me and a lot of women in this state. It wasn’t enough anymore to just work hard, do the right thing, volunteer, be a good mother. That’s when I decided to run for office,” Jordan said. Photo by Melanie Frick.

Additional speakers such as Chair of Athens-Clarke County Democrats and County Commissioner Tim Denson (District 5), Athens Mayor Kelly Girtz and State Senator and candidate for Georgia Attorney General Jen Jordan spoke in high regard for Warnock, emphasizing how important it is to vote in the upcoming election.

“We have got to wake up because democracy is not passive. What I tell my children is that ‘We all have rights, but as citizens we have responsibilities. You create, you elect the government that you want, and if you sit back and you let other people do it. Then you see what we get,’” Jordan said to the audience.

PROUD: Athens Mayor Kelly Girtz stands on stage for the Oct. 20 rally. Girtz feels that Warnock works to make every voice and concern heard, regardless of social or economic status. “When I tuck Noah into bed tonight and we talk about our day, I will be so proud to let him know that I stood here with a senator who is taking care of his classmates, working to support his grandparents, working to support the farmers who put food on our table, and working to support every Georgian,” Girtz said. Photo by Melanie Frick.

Girtz noted how impressed he is at Warnock’s ability to see the important aspects of what being a politician entails: not glazing over the work your citizens do and understanding their needs.

“In 2020, when then candidate Raphael Warnock made his campaign visit to Athens, I was really heartened that he didn’t want a photo opp on the City Hall steps or in front of the Arch. Rev. Warnock wanted to visit the Athens neighborhood health center,” Girtz said on stage. “He wanted to see in real terms, on the ground, what safety net healthcare practitioners were experiencing and how Washington could give them and most importantly their patients more support.”

SOMEONE TO LOOK UP TO: Rally attendants stand in line to take their photo with Warnock. Hannah Purdue, a sophomore at UGA, feels the impact of having politicians like Warnock. “I always am eager for the opportunity to just get involved, especially when it comes to hearing from people who are actually making a difference in the world,” Purdue said. “Having him come to campus was really inspiring. I’m an International Affairs major, so this is what I want to do. I want to be involved in politics.” Photo by Melanie Frick.

After Warnock closed out his final thoughts, those in attendance were invited to the front for a photo opportunity. Despite a section of the audience consisting of Warnock opponent Herschel Walker’s supporters, within seconds, the photo line nearly reached the door. Emma Moon, a volunteer with Dawgs for Warnock, stood in line to share her appreciation with Warnock for his visit.

SHARING THOUGHTS: Emma Moon briefly talks to Warnock while getting her photo taken. Moon feels the frustration of knowing that not everyone will use their ability to vote. “Every vote matters. I know people like to say it doesn’t, but in elections like this, where you have local and senate constituents, you need to get out there because they will decide what the people want,” Moon said. “If it’s not what you want, and you didn’t vote, you can’t say that you’re upset because you didn’t even help contribute or try to get through people to contribute.” Photo by Melanie Frick.

“It (the rally) means a lot to me because I think a lot of people are under the assumption that UGA is a red school, and I don’t think that’s true at all, especially institutionally. I have worked for the institution before and I think it’s a really good sign now that we have so many students coming out and coming to participate in causes that really matter,” Moon said.

REAL CHANGE: Girtz and Warnock embrace in a hug before Warnock makes his campaign speech. Girtz is impressed with Warnock’s commitment to lowering the costs of expensive prescription drugs. “He acted decisively. He acted to lower prescription costs for every American. And the bill passed both chambers of Congress and was signed by our President and will be in effect. He acted to lower the cost of insulin,” Girtz said. Photo by Melanie Frick.

Girtz remembers that it was not long after Warnock was elected that he was already hard at work supporting legislation that would decrease burdens for working Americans, like the healthcare practitioners he visited in Athens.

“He listened intently, and then in January when you elected him to the U.S. Senate, he brought that same deep spirit of concern and deep intellect to the halls of the U.S. Senate, and he acted,” Girtz said.

Voters will have the opportunity to vote between incumbent Democrat Warnock and former UGA football player and Heisman Trophy winner Republican Herschel Walker, on Nov. 8. 

“Having somebody come to campus that is actually doing things to help the people of Georgia and the people of the United States is really thought-provoking and inspiring, especially with such a contested election. I think that really helps students decide who to vote for,” Hannah Perdue, a sophomore at UGA and rally attendant, said.

Warnock points to the activism and voices of the younger generation as pivotal in securing success. 

“We need your impatience,” Warnock said. “People say, ‘Young folks can be so impatient.’ Well, I didn’t come today to discourage that impatience. I came to stir it up.”

Melanie Frick

Senior Melanie Frick is the Co-Editor-in-Chief during her fourth year with BluePrints. Having always been interested in nature, she is currently interested in pursuing a major in ecology or environmental science. Outside of school, she enjoys gardening, baking, swimming, and hiking. This year, Frick hopes to guide new students in learning the basics of journalism along with maintaining efficiency and professionalism with the entire staff. She hopes to cover topics that both embody her interests and are timely. She believes that journalism is one of the best ways to interact with and get to know students that aren't in her grade level and bonding with them through class and outside of it help ensure that BluePrints continues to be a tight-knit community.

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