WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an empty conference room inside the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Georgia Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock took a seat at a table and prepared to speak about what had been taking place the past three days.
The 52nd Annual Legislative Conference was taking place while Warnock, and honorary co-chair along with Representative Stacey E. Plaskett, were taking a moment to speak with The Atlanta Voice in between meetings and appointments.
“I think when the history of our country is written, historians will have to pause when covering this period and acknowledge that much of the progressive change that we have seen in this country has been advanced through the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC),” Warnock said. “This caucus has been the tip of the spear of substantive change in our country.”
A second-year member of the United States Senate, Warnock has already had a bill passed that capped the cost of insulin to $35, which has played a major part in bettering the health of Georgians. As a member of the CBC he has seen even more change take place throughout by way of the efforts from his fellow CBC members throughout the government.
“It has been the conscience of the Congress on everything from voting rights, to civil rights, to racial equity jobs and opportunity,” he said. “What I have seen in just two years in the Senate is that perspective matters. There have been many occasions that I have felt that my being in the room meant that certain questions were raised that would not have even been asked, let alone answered.”
Many questions have been asked and answered this week as both national and local topics were featured in panels. Warnock was among the first featured speakers during the annual town hall that took place Thursday morning. He gave his remarks early on because the Senate had to votes to cast. He said he wanted to be a part of that annual tradition because multiple voices matter.
“The only way to get the ideal of justice and equality right is to have diverse voices in the room,” Warnock said. “This is a launching pad for continuing work. This conference is not going to solve these problems in four days or even four years. It does act as a catalyst for change, because it brings not only legislatures to the table, but activists, policy makers, big thinkers, thought leaders and ordinary folks.”
Next door to where Warnock took this interview there was a press conference hosted by the Hip Hop Caucus and “Cop City” was the topic of discussion. Actors, actresses and religious leaders talked about how the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center can start a trickle down effect, both on the personal and climate front.
Warnock said while walking through the halls of the convention center he has been a part of conversations about topics that are not on the conference agenda, but are equally important.
Asked how important it is to continue having those conversations outside of the Senate, the United States Congress, and even the ALC, Warnock agreed that is in a big way.
“I really believe that change doesn’t happen so much from the top down, it happens from the bottom up,” he said. “I decided to get into politics because it provides another set of tools to advance the work that I’ve been trying to do for years.”
He has plans to get the cost of insulin capped for Georgians with health insurance as well. “In a state like Georgia where we have a million diabetics, this will make a huge difference,” he said. “I have been able to translate my years of agitation into legislation. My protests into public policy.”
Told that the ALC isn’t streamed live so that people can watch different panel discussions take place from their homes, Warnock, who has plans to preach at the 9 a.m. Sunday service at Kingdom Fellowship A.M.E .Church in Calverton, Maryland said, “Maybe that’s something we should think about.”