When the Rev. Raphael Warnock decided to attend Morehouse College, he called it his “full faith scholarship.” As the 11th of 12 children in his family and the first to graduate from college, Warnock wasn’t sure how he would pay for his education. Ultimately, he received a Pell Grant and low interest student loan to be able to receive a college education.
“Student loans are on the ballot,” Warnock said in a call with student media outlets on Tuesday. Other college press in attendance included Emory University, Augusta University, Covenant College, University of West Georgia and Morehouse College.
Because of his experience, Warnock said he will work to fully fund Pell Grants and strengthen programs to forgive student loans to ensure that young graduates are able to pay student loans.
Warnock is running in Georgia’s jungle primary senate seat with a total of 21 candidates. This election will determine who fills the remaining two years of former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat.The top two candidates who receive the most votes will head to a runoff in January.
College students need to recognize the importance of their vote, Warnock said. He encouraged students to vote where they live and study because “Georgia needs the votes of young people,” Warnock said. One of his first two bills if elected to the U.S. Senate would be to pass the Voting Rights Act and work to “protect the integrity of our democracy.”
Warnock has been the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta for the past 15 years, the same church where Martin Luther King Jr. was co-pastor with his father. Warnock also officiated the funeral of Rep. John Lewis on July 30.
“I had this idea that my education ought to be used to make a difference in the world,” Warnock, who met Lewis for the first time while participating in a protest at Morehouse, said. “I embraced this idea of civil disobedience and activism as a student.”
Warnock is passionate about issues of racial equality, from criminal justice and police reform to the still-present educational and residential segregation in America.
If elected, Warnock would work to decriminalize marijuana fight for bail reform, he said. His congregation at Ebenezer Baptist often contributes offerings to bail poor people out of jail.
Warnock is also a proponent of requiring a uniform standard of force among all police officers, as well as mandating bias and racial sensitivity training.Warnock would like to see studies conducted on police shootings to obtain accurate data. He does not support defunding the police.
The coronavirus has taught leaders to “take the long view,” Warnock said.He compared the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change, explaining that older and younger generations are relying on each other to make the world a safer place.
“It reminds us that we’re all in this together,” Warnock said.
The pandemic has also emphasized the need for those with preexisting conditions to be able to have access to health care, Warnock said.
“We ought to make sure we're not wasting a crisis, but using the crisis moment as an opportunity to bring real change in our country,” Warnock said.