By Donnell Suggs
The Atlanta Voice publisher Janis Ware, Georgia Asian Times publisher Li Wong and Mundo Now publisher Rene Alegria all sat inside The Atlanta Voice studios on royal blue chairs with gold trim. The cameras were prepared to roll as the Chief Operating Officer Richard Dunn instructed the publishers on which cameras to look at when it was their turn to talk.
The three publishers and their respective publications represented millions of voters and readers that were interested in learning what that day’s special guest, Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock, wanted to say to some of the leaders in the ethnic press space days before the early voting period begins Monday.
The opportunity for Black and Brown publications to have exclusivity with a sitting United States Senator may not be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, but it is rare. “I’m excited because typically the ethnic media are the last ones to be called to press conferences or they are not called at all,” said Ware before the filming began. The meeting with Warnock was simultaneously aired via all three publications’ social media platforms.
“I felt that these conversations are important because we like to hear from [Warnock] on how he is going to address the ethnic communities we represent if he is re-elected,” said Wong.
Alegria, who came dressed similar to Warnock in a blazer, dress shirt and jeans said, “It’s about time we are able to engage in this way collectively. This collaborative is the first ever time we can engage like this for our communities.”
The Ethnic Media Collaborative, the coming together of all three publications for events like this one in order to have all three communities share information, has come together in the past, most recently interviewing gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in May of this year. Tuesday Warnock, who is scheduled to debate senatorial candidate Herschel Walker Friday at the Plant Riverside District in Savannah, dropped by The Atlanta Voice building in Mechanicsville to talk about “representing the 11 million people in the state of Georgia,” he said.
Warnock spoke of his humble beginnings in Savannah and how education and strong family values helped lead him and his family to a better place in life. “You’re hearing today from a United States Senator, but as I reflect on my own journey I think of myself as a kid that grew up in public housing, one of 12 children,” he said. “As I think about my journey, part of that is what my family poured into me. We were short on money, but long on love, long on faith.”
That journey he spoke of is familiar to the many Black, Asian and Hispanic voters that will begin casting their votes Monday. Those individuals and families have had to deal with a pandemic, school violence, high gas and food prices and wage disparities. Warnock was asked what he would like for potential voters to know what his reasons for wanting to continue representing Georgia in the Senate?
About voting he said, “It’s really important that people show up to vote. I often say that a vote is a kind of prayer for the world we desire for ourselves and for our children. Prayers are strongest when we pray together.”
Warnock said the work he has done in the Senate is based on his commitment to try and build a world that “embraces all of the children.” Some of those children will be voting in a major election for the
first time and he was asked what he would believe those first time voters should look for in a candidate. “That’s a great question and I believe a number of things matter,” he said. “I think character matters because you can’t be something you’re not just because you got elected. I have spent my whole life committed to service. That’s the lens through which I do my work.”
“I think a good sign of what someone would do when they are in office is what they were doing before they were in office,” said Warnock of dealing with the challenges of being in Washington. “I’m in Washington, I return to my pulpit every Sunday because here is what I know, the last thing I want to do is spend all of my time talking to politicians. I’m afraid I might become one.”
Warnock said the country has never had a great movement in the country that didn’t center young people. “We have never had real change and transformation in this country without young people,” he said. “We need your impatience, we need your sense of idealism, we need your energy, and we need to hear from them to get policy right.”
Li closed the half-hour session by asking Warnock what his definition of the American dream was. Warnock, who has two children, a daughter, 6, and a son, 4, said, “I think all of us at the end of the day want to pass on a country that’s better for our children than it was for us.” – The Atlanta Voice