By Chris B. Bennett
Whether or not you agree with Herschel Walker’s politics, the one thing that you should take into consideration is what his candidacy represents in terms of the political empowerment of Black folks in America.
No, I’m not talking about Herschel Walker being a polarizing or inspiring individual running a transformational campaign like Stacy Abrams or Barack Obama. I’m talking about the man who was hand-picked to run against incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock because the grand-selector of Republican candidates — Donald Trump — believes that the best way to unseat Warnock, who is Black, is to run a Black Republican against him instead of running a traditional Georgia Republican against him.
Remember, Warnock won his first election to the Senate by defeating then-incumbent Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler. A feat that many people still have to pinch themselves about and marvel at to this day.
For full disclosure, Warnock and I both attended Morehouse College in Atlanta and graduated one year apart. While I do have this connection with Warnock, who also spent some time in Seattle, this editorial is not in direct in support of his campaign, an endorsement of his candidacy, nor is not a referendum on the politics of either Walker or Warnock, so keep reading.
The truth of the matter is that we are witnessing something unimaginable five, 10, 15, and definitely not 20 years ago with a Black man running for re-election to the U.S. Senate in the bright red state of Georgia, and fighting to retain his seat against another Black man.
This is a testament to what a continued process of political organizing, voter education, and empowerment — when done properly — can do, even under the renewed pressure and constraints of what many, including myself, believe to be blatant voter suppression in the State of Georgia.
The hard work and unwavering keeping-their-eye-on-the-prize mentality of Stacy Abrams and so many other unsung heroes in the State of Georgia has set the stage, flipped a red state to a purple state, and more importantly shifted the political power, influence, and hopefully, over time, the resources to people who have been underserved in Georgia for far too long.
Now, let me be clear. Black folks in Georgia did not elect Warnock on their own, but they certainly can take credit for putting him over the top. Which means that Black folks in Georgia, regardless of their political affiliation, can and will be the deciding factor in all major elections moving forward.
The days of political parties, candidates, and influencers pandering to the Black community are quickly fading, and these people must begin to make political investments in the Black community, court the Black vote, and hold themselves accountable to Black voters in Georgia.
The beautiful thing about what they’ve done — and will hopefully continue to do in Georgia — is that it can be replicated in other states throughout the country. The roadmap and the blueprint are clear, and all that we need is for people to pick up the mantle and run with it in their local areas.
The tip of the spear has pierced the Achilles of the Bible Belt, and a tidal wave of political candidates — and a massive turnout of voters with a purpose — is on the brink of being unleashed.
The potential to overturn voter suppression and unjust laws — relieving politicos who lack compassion towards progress and the underserved communities that they are supposed to represent of their seats, and the continued progress towards making America a place of unlimited opportunities for all people, including the descendants of those who laid the foundation of this country without proper compensation — is just around the corner.
So, when we talk about what Herschel Walker’s campaign means to the political empowerment of Black folks in America, it really isn’t about Herschel at all. It’s about what he represents. His candidacy represents an acknowledgment by part of the political power structure in America that Black folks, regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum, have the ability to take over and influence the political landscape of America — and there is not much that anyone outside of our community can do about it when we come together with passion to organize, strategize, and execute a plan to empower voters in our community.
I encourage everyone to take a page from the political playbook of Georgia and use it as the foundation to empower voters and communities where you live. Over time, you will begin to see more candidates who support the same ideals that you do — that truly have the best interest of your community at heart.
Chris B. Bennett is CEO and Publisher of The Seattle Medium Newspaper Group.