Stacey Abrams is the walking embodiment of the power of voting.
The 47-year old Madison, Wisconsin native has helped shape the voice of future leaders since she was a 17-year-old speechwriter for a congressional campaign and later the only undergraduate student on the staff of Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first Black mayor, and someone who hired Abrams after she challenged him on television. Her voting rights activism began when she started a voter-registration drive at Spelman College at the age of 17 before she legally could even vote herself. That’s because Abrams’ voting efforts have never been self-serving, and after decades as Atlanta’s deputy city attorney and Georgia state representative, she began her most impactful voting rights activism in 2018, when she ran for Governor of Georgia, making her the first Black woman to earn a major party’s gubernatorial nomination in the United States.
Her bid for the governorship was rendered unsuccessful in the face of voter suppression allegations centered around her opponent, the office of incumbent governor Brian Kemp, closing more than 200 polling places in primarily poor and minority neighborhoods and purging hundreds of thousands of minority voters from the voting polls. Abrams didn’t concede to Kemp because “concession means to acknowledge an action is right, our, or proper,” as she said during her concession speech. As is true with voting itself, change doesn’t come from one victory, and progress isn’t extinguished with one vote, sentiments that would change the course of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.
Following voting irregularities in her gubernatorial race in 2018, Abrams set out to ensure that sort of voting suppression never happens again by founding the voter protection and education organization Fair Fight. Through the tireless work of Abrams and Fair Fight, the national voting rights organization was able to register at least 800,000 new voters in Georgia, helping make Joe Biden the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia, a state whose 16 electoral votes are widely viewed as pivotal to his eventual presidential win. “In Georgia that there was a sea change because we were able to push back against some of the most egregious voter suppression in the nation,” Abrams told PBS News Hour.
The fight for voting equality is not over as Georgia lawmakers passed an election bill into law that would limit bail-in ballots, shorten the early voting time, and more restrictive voting provisions. But, Stacey Abrams will undoubtedly work tirelessly to right this wrong as she has for most of her life as a voting rights champion.