Who is Stacey Abrams?
US voting rights activist Stacey Abrams has just been nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. So, who is she? And what has she done that has earnt her global recognition?
Abrams is from Atlanta, Georgia, in the heart of the Deep South. Atlanta carries deep significance when it comes to voter rights, as it just so happens to be the birthplace of the US Civil Rights Movement and the hometown of Martin Luther King Jr.
So, a little bit of history. Abrams holds a Master of Public Policy and a Juris Doctor degree, and became the deputy city attorney for the City of Atlanta at the age of 29. In 2006, she moved from law to politics and ran for the 89th district in the Georgia House of Representatives. She was elected to office and held the position until her resignation in 2017. She then ran for Governor of Georgia as the first ever black female Democratic nominee, and was endorsed by both Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama.
Unfortunately, the Republican she was running against, Brian Kemp, didn’t play fair. Kemp was the Secretary of State from 2012 to 2017, and it was Kemp’s office that was responsible for elections and voter registration in the state of Georgia. During this period, Kemp cancelled over 1.2 million voter registrations, 700,000 of these being cancelled in 2017 alone. By October 2018, just before the midterm elections, more than 53,000 voter registration applications “had been put on hold” by Kemp's office, with more than 75 percent of these belonging to minorities. Of course, Kemp denied any wrongdoing, claiming that the cancellations were the result of general clean outs (legal action is still taking place). So, where does Abrams come into the picture?
Due to the mass disenfranchisement of voters in Georgia, the majority of which were minorities, Abrams did not win the election in 2018. She lost by a mere 50,000 votes. Although it was obvious that the election was not fair, Abrams accepted the result and decided to forge a new path.
In 2019, Abrams founded an organisation called the Fair Fight Action, which aimed to assist Democrats both financially and logistically with voter protection teams across a number of battleground states, particularly in the South and the Midwest. The organisation's other main purpose was to re-register voters across the country, particularly those from minority groups. The organisation has since joined forces with some other civil rights groups, including the Black Voters Matter Fund and the Georgia Coalition for People's Agenda. Throughout 2019 and 2020, an additional 800,000 voters in Georgia registered to vote.
And well, Abrams' hard work most certainly paid off by the time the 2020 Presidential Election came around. Georgia turned blue for the first time in almost 30 years, granting President Biden a crucial 16 electoral college votes.
Fair Fight Action was also able to raise over 6 million dollars for Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff (Democratic senate nominees) in the Georgia Senate runoff elections which were held earlier this year. As we know, both Warnock and Ossoff won their seats, giving the Democrats a slim majority in the senate.
Reflecting on what Abrams was able to achieve in such a small space of time, I think everyone can agree that Biden’s victory would not have been possible without her. Not only has Abrams and Fair Fight Action helped stamp out voter suppression, but a new generation of POC leaders are now walking in her footsteps. Abrams has shown the world what is possible with non-violent change through the ballet box.