Who Is Stacey Abrams And Why Is She So Totally Cool?
Meet the woman who delivered Georgia.
Meet the woman who delivered Georgia.
Text: Sophie Lee
If you've been following the 2020 Presidential Election at all (which, duh, I'm sure you have), then you've probably heard the name Stacey Abrams thrown around following president-elect Joe Biden's win. So who is she, and why has she had such a large impact on a presidential race?
Stacey Abrams national recognition really began in 2018 when she ran for governor in Georgia. She was up against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Abrams received endorsements from many prominent political figures including Bernie Sanders and former President Barack Obama.
Despite a groundswell of enthusiasm for her campaign, Abrams ultimately lost to Kemp by a mere 55,000 votes. Even more disappointing was that the election was marred by voter suppression. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution actually said that it "may represent the largest mass disenfranchisement in US history." Over a million voters were purged from voter rolls in a process overseen by Kemp himself. 70% of canceled voters from 2017 were Black, despite only 32% of Georgia's demographic constituting Black individuals.
Following the election, Abrams got to work making sure that such a mockery of the Democratic system could not happen again. She launched Fair Fight, an organization that helps train voter protection teams across the country. It works alongside her already existing organization, New Georgia Project, to broaden the voter pool. The two groups are credited with registering 800,000 new voters in Georgia alone.
In 2019, Abrams became the first Black woman to deliver a response to the President's State of the Union address. She also became the first, and only, person not currently holding office to do so. She was also shortlisted to become Joe Biden's running mate in his presidential bid, before the role eventually went to vice president-elect Kamala Harris.
This is where we get into Abrams enormous influence on current elections. She is credited with helping turn not only her home state of Georgia over to Biden, but other key swing states as well. Ben Wikler, chair of the Democratic party in Wisconsin tweeted, "There's a lot of totally correct talk about how @StaceyAbrams was pivotal to winning Georgia. Folks: Stacey & her team were pivotal to flipping Wisconsin too. And every other battleground. They worked with us to build massive, supercharged voter protection teams—starting *early.*"
Black voters, whose vote has historically been suppressed, were key to Biden's win over Donald Trump. According to AP VoteCast, 9 out of 10 black voters, who make up 11% of the national electorate, supported Biden. In her speech, on Saturday, Harris said that Black women are the "backbone of our democracy." Biden, on the same night, recognized that "the African American community stood up again for [him]." He said, "You always had my back and I’ll have yours."
Without Abrams's tireless work to empower voters, particularly those who have long been held down in one covert way or another, it is not hard to imagine that the presidential election would have taken a different turn. Her impact is still being felt in the ongoing fight for Democrats to regain control of the Senate. Without a majority, Biden will have a difficult time sticking to the promises he made to voters.
Democrats need two more seats to turn the Senate, both of which could come from Georgia where Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are currently challenging Republican incumbents. Both races are set to head into a runoff election on Jan. 5. It remains to be seen whether Abrams will mobilize enough force to shift these elections as well, but her recent victories certainly bode well. And should we begin the new year with a democratic President, Senate, and Congress, it will be a great testament to what Black women can do given the chance.