LISTEN: Savannah's city government held a dedication ceremony for “Raphael Warnock Way,” welcoming the U.S. Senator back to his childhood street. GPB's Benjamin Payne reports.

Sen. Raphael Warnock stands in front of the newly unveiled street sign for ‘Raphael Warnock Way’ in Savannah.

Sen. Raphael Warnock stands in front of the newly unveiled street sign for ‘Raphael Warnock Way’ in Savannah.

Credit: Benjamin Payne / GPB News

For Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, Thursday morning marked a homecoming — complete with a marching band and cheerleaders from his alma mater of Sol C. Johnson High School in Savannah, Ga.

“S! C! J!” the cheerleaders chanted. “Get up, get up! G! E! T! U! P! Hey, hey, get up out your seat, and don't stop rocking the beat!”

They were performing for a large crowd of fellow Savannahians who had gathered on Cape Street, where the future reverend and Democratic lawmaker grew up in public housing during the 1980s — “a time of high-top fades,” Warnock told the crowd. “Believe it or not, I had one.”

Although the popularity of certain hairstyles has faded since the senator's childhood, the road where he grew up is still here: Cape Street now bears its new honorary name, Raphael Warnock Way.

“The street might be named for me, but this is for you,” said Sen. Warnock, addressing the several dozen children in attendance.

“Every time you look at that [street] sign, know that from here, you can go anywhere,” he said. “Know that your outcome is not based on your parents' income. Know that in America, anything is possible…Know that God is an equal opportunity employer who raises up genius on both sides of the track, in every income, in every zip code. Know that with God and with family, all things are possible. So go forth from this place. Tap into the hero inside of you.”

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson — who together with city council members voted unanimously in August to assign the honorary street name — introduced Warnock as “greatness from Georgia's mother city” who rose from humble beginnings at Kayton Homes.

“We wanted these young people here today because we want to show them what they can be,” Johnson said. “That they don't limit their goals and aspirations to their address. That they can go from Kayton Homes to the United States Senate. So, ladies and gentlemen, we have to be careful about how we treat our young people…because they might grow up one day to be a United States senator.”

Starting from the very spot on which Sen. Warnock said he used to play 'four corners' with his friends (“That was our version of tennis”), the lawmaker marched alongside city officials, members of his family, and a phalanx of supporters to the corner of Cape and Brewer for an official street sign unveiling.

After the pomp and circumstance of the ceremony, Ricky Temple — a pastor who has known Warnock “since he was a young fella” — remembered him as “always studious, always diligent, always interested in church and striving to advance himself.”

“I like the fact that he worked toward his goals,” Temple added. “I call it working the pieces. Success comes in pieces. And that's what he's done. I've watched him work the pieces all his life.”

After the event, Sen. Warnock was asked during a gaggle with reporters about the latest reports of his Republican opponent Herschel Walker — who has denied an allegation that he paid an ex-girlfriend to have an abortion.

Warnock declined to comment, saying, “I am focused on this wonderful day, when we're standing on Cape Street.”

Sen. Warnock's focus is soon set to shift to Oct. 14, when he and Walker are scheduled to debate in Savannah.