“We don’t like to talk about these things in church,” the Rev. Raphael Warnock cautioned the congregation at Atlanta’s storied Ebenezer Baptist Church in March 2010, but “I’m very convinced that if Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive today, he would be focused on the issue of HIV/AIDS.”
He then stepped back from the pulpit, sat down at a nearby table, and in front of the church’s 1,700 congregants, swabbed his gums to take a rapid OraQuick HIV test.
As Warnock campaigns in a historic U.S. Senate runoff amid the dark winter of the coronavirus pandemic, he has made addressing the virus—and its disproportionate effect on Georgia’s Black communities—a centerpiece of his run. But the 43-year-old Democrat has dedicated much of his life as a pastor and social justice activist to combatting another epidemic that has uniquely harmed Black Americans: HIV/AIDS.