Longtime civil rights activist the Rev. Raphael Warnock was elected as Georgia’s first black senator, defeating Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in a closely contested runoff.
The race was called for the man who currently leads the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. both served as pastors, at around 2 a.m. Wednesday by the Associated Press after he built a statewide lead of more than 40,000 votes.
“I stand before you as a man who knows that the improbable journey that led me to this place in this historic moment in America could only happen here. We were told we couldn’t win this election, but tonight we proved that with hope, hard work and the people by our side, anything is possible,” said Warnock, who also served as pastor of the late Democratic Congressman John Lewis.
“I am so honored by the faith that you have shown in me, and I promise you this: I am going to the Senate to work for Georgia, all of Georgia, no matter who you cast your vote for in this election.”
The Morehouse College graduate also touted his roots as the son of a pastor and a mother who “used to pick somebody else’s cotton” in Waycross, Georgia.
“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,” said Warnock, who will be the 11th black person to serve in the U.S. Senate.
Warnock’s election has since sparked a flurry of excitement and criticism around the country. Here are five reactions to his win.