Just as we were trying to put on our celebration shoes, the ugly side of our story, our great and grand American story, began to emerge. We saw the crude and the angry and the disrespectful and the violent break their way into the people’s house. […] The violence in this world is real, don’t be dishonest about that, yet violence does not have the last word. God is still up to something in this world. So don’t give in to cynicism, don’t give in to fear. Don’t give in to hatred, don’t give in to bigotry, don’t give in to see the xenophobia because violence will never have the last word.
Jon Ossoff will be sworn in on a book of Hebrew scripture that was once owned by Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, a devoted civil rights activist who helped forge an alliance between Georgia’s Black and Jewish communities in the movement for racial justice. Rothschild led Atlanta’s historic synagogue, The Temple, where Ossoff earned his bar mitzvah. The Temple was fire-bombed by white supremacists in 1958. The Ossoff team released a statement this week remembering Ossoff’s political mentor, “civil rights legend Congressman John Lewis,” who “instilled in Ossoff the conviction to fight for justice and human rights, as well as a deep commitment to the historic bond between Jewish people and the Black community—an alliance symbolized and invigorated by the joint victories of Sens.-elect Ossoff and Warnock.”
Padilla’s statement following his appointment reflects the same humility. “My parents, Ernesto and Lupe Padilla, came to California in 1968 in search of a better life,” he wrote. “They met in Los Angeles, both recently arrived from Mexico. It was love at first sight and they got married and applied for green cards in that order.” He spoke of his father, who “never had a chance to finish elementary school” and worked as a short-order cook for for years, while his mother “worked tirelessly as a housekeeper. It seemed like she never had a day off.
“They taught us that no matter who you are or where you live you can be anything,” he said. “In fact, you can even change your community if you are willing to work hard enough.”