Warnock election a sign of progress, but obstacles remain for black candidates, scholars say

Warnock election a sign of progress, but obstacles remain for black candidates, scholars say

ORLANDO, Fla. — Lost in the chaos at the United States Capitol, Georgia made history this week with their runoff elections.

A Jewish man and a Black man both won their Senate races Tuesday.

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Reverend Raphael Warnock became only the second black Senator from a southern state since reconstruction.

Race scholars say his election is a sign of progress, but there’s still much farther to go.

Nearly 2,000 people have served in the U.S. Senate, and early Wednesday morning, Raphael Warnock became only the 11th Black American elected to the body.

The first was Hiram Revels, elected by the Mississippi State Senate more than 150 years ago.

Sociology Professor Jonathan Cox says there are a number of reasons that it’s taken so long to make such incremental progress. The first, he says is a history of voter suppression against Black Americans.

“Voter ID laws, voters being purged from rolls, gerrymandering, felony disenfranchisement…”

The second issue, Cox says, is racial discrimination against Black Americans trying to get into politics.

“We’re looking at large-scale, long-standing, systemic discrimination that exists,” Cox says.

As an example, Cox  names Representative Janelle Bynum of Oregon, who had police called on her while she was canvassing in her own district.

Florida Senator Randolph Bracy says he’s had to endure those challenges himself.

“I think it’s a real thing to deal with,” Sen. Bracy says. “I think the maps are gerrymandered, and so you have black candidates that primarily run in black districts.

Research from multiple institutions support Bracy’s claims of gerrymandering.

However, he says Rev. Warnock’s win in Georgia- and the Democratic organizing led by Stacey Abrams- show things could be different for statewide elections.

“So I think the formula is there for a person of color to win,” Bracy says. “I just think that a lot of things have to come together.