A proud HBCU graduate of Morehouse College, Senator Reverend Warnock addressed over 80 HBCU faculty and staff and led the group in prayer at the 7th Annual HBCU Fly-In hosted by Senator Tim Scott
Senator Reverend Warnock is only current U.S. Senator who graduated from an HBCU
To date, Senator Reverend Warnock has secured more than $267 million for Georgia HBCUs
Senator Reverend Warnock: “I wouldn’t be here standing as a United States Senator if it were not for what was poured into me at Morehouse College, a place that focuses not only on training the head, but tuning the heart and readying the hands for service. Schools that know how to see the talent and possibility among us.”
Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), a proud HBCU graduate of Morehouse College, addressed HBCU faculty and staff and led the group in prayer at the 7th Annual HBCU Fly-In hosted by Senator Tim Scott (R-SC). Senator Warnock was part of a bipartisan cohort that spoke to the more than 80 HBCU Presidents, Chancellors, Vice Presidents and leaders from across the country in attendance, including the Presidents of Savannah State University, Kimberly Ballard-Washington, and Fort Valley State University, Paul Jones. This bipartisan event is convened to celebrate America’s more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The theme of this year’s program was “HBCU’s Leading the Way: How HBCUs Create Opportunity, Foster Entrepreneurship, and Strengthen America’s Workforce”.
“When HBCUs thrive, the nation thrives. All of us do well,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “We are all invested in the future of the schools that have to do so much of our leadership in so many areas. I wouldn’t be here standing as a United States Senator if it were not for what was poured into me at Morehouse College, a place that focuses not only on training the head, but tuning the heart and readying the hands for service. Schools that know how to see the talent and possibility among us; sometimes we just needed to be polished up a little bit. And here I am in the Senate.”
An HBCU graduate who understands firsthand the benefit of a good education, Senator Warnock has been a steadfast champion of HBCUs since entering the Senate. To date, he has secured more than $267 million for Georgia HBCUs through Congressionally-directed spending funds, Programmatic Requests, and the American Rescue Plan. He has partnered with Senator Scott to co-lead the bipartisan effort in the government funding process to make sure HBCUs get the funding they need. Senator Warnock was a leading voice in speaking out against the bomb threats of more than 50 colleges across the nation, including Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, Fort Valley State University, and Albany State University. And recently, he co-led the push to fund 1890 Land-Grant colleges and universities in the 2024 budget.
See below to for a transcript of Senator Warnock’s remarks:
“Well, hello, everybody. Thank you so very much. It’s wonderful to be here, and it’s always great to be with so many fellow HBCU grads and supporters. I am a proud graduate of Morehouse College. I promise I won’t start a food fight with the Howard University graduates in the house. It’s always a friendly rivalry.
“But I want to thank Senator Scott, for convening this important gathering, and for bringing us together in this way, and thank you for working with me, and with him, for a big push in the halls of Congress to champion our historically black colleges and universities. HBCUs have been doing so much for so many, for so long, with so very little that people expect these institutions to continue to make bricks without struggling— to do the darn near impossible. Our schools in the country will always punch way above their weight— and I’m proud of that— but the tacit assumption that they should just keep doing that without getting their share of support is wrongheaded. And it is detrimental not only to the schools, but to our economy.
“Put in positive terms, when HBCUs thrive, the nation thrives. All of us do well. We are all invested in the future of the schools that have to do so much of our leadership in so many areas. I wouldn’t be here standing as a United States Senator if it were not for what was poured into me at Morehouse College, a place that focuses not only on training the head, but tuning the heart and readying the hands for service. Schools that know how to see the talent and possibility among us; sometimes we just needed to be polished up a little bit. And here I am in the Senate. We got a vice president. And the list goes on and on.
“And when I remember my parents dropping me off as a freshman at Morehouse College— there are twelve of us in my family. I’m number 11, the first college grad, but I was determined I was going to Morehouse. My parents’ income was equal to the tuition, room, and board but I was going to Morehouse. I was going where Dr. King went!
“And folks, we’re short on money but long on faith. I got two Pentecostal preachers as parents, my late dad, and my mother. They were always preaching. They poured a lot of faith in us. Even when they weren’t quoting the scriptures it sounded like scriptures, I’m telling you. I promise. “I smite thee with my rod and staff. Even the Lord God Almighty can’t save you from the bad.” They’ve always told me the Scripture.
“So when I arrived at Morehouse, I had no money for the first semester. You all encounter students like that. Students who didn’t finish or can’t finish because they don’t have enough. I didn’t have enough money for the first semester, so I went to Morehouse on a full faith scholarship. And when I arrived there, there were guys there who would come from middle class families— some of them already driving fancy cars, dressed up in a nice suit, Morehouse men, they look like they’re working on Wall Street and the first class.
“I looked at my dad, you know, looking to get some support, some money. I had a very generous father, but he had a lot of kids. And I’m looking at him you know, trying to get just a few dollars, hook a brother up, my first investment. My dad looked at me and spoke to me in King James English, “silver and gold have I none such as I have given unto thee the grace of the Lord, Jesus Christ.”
“He gave me a great big hug. My mother gave me a great big hug, and they got in the car and drove off the ride, but left me standing there. Four years later, some of those guys were driving those cars past the stage I was standing on— the graduation stage, getting my degree, cum laude, thank you Lord.
“When you see me stand up fighting for student debt relief, particularly for students who are Pell Grant eligible, that’s not just some theoretical policy argument. I know what it takes to give children a chance. And so I’ll keep pushing. I will not give in to the sirens and the distractions of those who create fissures where there are none. We can support people at our four year institutions and our community colleges and our two year technical schools.
“Understanding folks in this building, who have had no problem providing debt relief to major corporations— and some of them took some of it themselves— and then it came time to help students. To help people like the young couple I ran into on a plane who just asked me, “Can you help? I’m burdened down with all of this debt, paying on time, and I still owe more than I did when I started. And I feel like I’m in a government debt trap.” So I’ll continue to push on this.
“I’m proud that in the last Congress, I was able to secure more $267 million for Georgia’s HBCUs, and more than $1 billion in total for HBCU campuses that have too long thrived on too little. So we’ll continue to do this work. I’m glad that we were able to get some language and revisions in the CHIPS and Science Act to support our HBCUs, and I will continue to look for ways to be of help.
“So thank you so much for being here. And we need your voice and need your perspective. And know that my office is always open and we stand ready to help in any way that we can. Will you bow your heads with me? They asked me to bless the food, but I think y’all have already eaten.
“God, we give you praise and thanks for food and fellowship. Some have food with no friends. Some have friends but not enough food. You blessed us with both. Give us now bread, and grant it through our gifts. We might help to create a world where all God’s children can eat. Their stomachs might be filled and their heads and hearts inspired by literature and music. That we might be strengthened by the use of science. Grant it to all of your children. Amen.”