This Day in History

Jan. 5, 2021: Grassroots Organizing Shifts Balance of Power in Senate

Time Periods: 21st Century, 2001 - Present
Themes: Voting Rights, African American, Organizing

On January 5, 2021 two new Democratic lawmakers from Georgia were elected to the U.S. Senate — Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. Raphael Warnock is only the 11th African American senator in U.S. history.

The election took place in the face of widespread white supremacist voter suppression. The victory can be credited to the daily, smart, and creative organizing of voting rights activists, led by Black women like Stacey Abrams, Deborah Scott, Felicia Davis, Helen Butler, Nsé Ufot, and countless others in organizations such as the New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter, Fair Fight, Mijente, and more.

Source: Stephen Melkisethian via Flickr

Photo by Stephen Melkisethian via Flickr

To teach students about grassroots anti-racist organizing and the long struggle for voting rights, we recommend Teaching SNCC: The Organization at the Heart of the Civil Rights Revolution, a series of role plays that explore the history and evolution of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, including freedom rides and voter registration, and Who Gets to Vote? Teaching About the Struggle for Voting Rights in the United States, a unit with three lessons on voting rights, including the history of the struggle against voter suppression. Find these lessons and more below.