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We finally have a date for the Warnock vs. Walker debate

After weeks of negotiations, Georgia's two U.S. Senate candidates will take the debate stage in October. The stakes for Black Georgians couldn't be higher.


At long last, we finally have a date for the first (and potentially only) debate between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia and his right-wing challenger Herschel Walker

Warnock and Walker have been exchanging barbs via social media and the press in recent weeks, with Warnock primarily accusing Walker — a political neophyte with seemingly no grasp of policy — of ducking him.

Walker, who was mocked by fellow Republican candidates this year for refusing to debate in the GOP primary, was also mocked by yours truly over an excuse he offered recently for not debating Warnock. Back in July, I wrote that Walker’s tedious response spoke for itself when a Fox News host asked about why he hadn’t yet reached an agreement to debate the incumbent senator.

But according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the two will face off in a one-on-one debate on Oct. 14. 

In many ways, I see the Warnock-Walker race as a battle to define Blackness in Georgia — and not merely in figurative ways. Walker, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is a caricature of Black Georgia propped up by a ruling class of white Republicans who seem to find solace in Walker’s performance of Blackness: He’s simple-minded, folksy, athletic and intensely critical of Black liberation movements. Warnock, who formerly preached at the same church Martin Luther King Jr. helped make famous, embodies the Black Georgia right-wing conservatives have sought to suppress since King’s day and in centuries prior. 

But the results of their campaigns could very well have serious implications for the lived experiences of Black Georgians, as well. Walker formally launched his campaign in August 2021, as Trump and his allies continued to push baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in predominantly Black districts during the 2020 election. Depending on the Senate makeup in January, if Walker wins in November he could be a critical vote for the GOP to block voting rights legislation or any other anti-racist proposals.

A Warnock victory could, conversely, keep a Black progressive in power who’s amenable to voter enfranchisement laws, infrastructure spending and other measures necessary for marginalized people — including many Black people — to thrive.

The October debate will pit against each other two men who represent vastly different views on what role Black people ought to play in society: liberators or puppets of the white ruling class.