Stacey Abrams’ historic run for Georgia governor

Abrams is joined by OWN founder, Oprah Winfrey.
Photo submitted by Itoro Umontuen / The Atlanta Voice

It was not a complete loss for Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams who, as of The FAMUAN press time, was losing by more than 200,000 votes to Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Brian Kemp. Instead, Abrams still made history as the first African-American female to run for governor in Georgia.

Abrams says she has come from humble beginnings growing up in Gulfport, Miss. in a house with five siblings and parents who often struggled to make ends meet. It was there she learned the values of serving the community, having a strong faith in God and the importance of family.

Abrams’ parents the Rev. Carolyn Abrams and the Rev. Robert Abrams were regularly involved in serving the community. They have served the homeless, mentored troubled youth and have been committed to prison ministry.

Florida A&M University Program Director and alumnus Jon P. Perdue said he remembers hearing about Abrams when he was a student in the early 2000s.

“First off, she has been an activist all her life. I think she is five years older thanme and I’d heard about her in college,” said Perdue. “She has worked her way up through the state legislature. She has been all about the state of Georgia politics. So she has been a fixture.”

Abrams was not the traditional candidate. She is the author of several award-winning romantic suspense novels under the pen name Selena Montgomery. She is not married and she has been trans- parent about being in debt.

“She is real. The realest thing (she said) is yes I went to Yale, but I have been taking care of my family and I have debt,” said Perdue. “And maybe just maybe we need more people in office that have debt, significant amounts of debt to understandhow predatory our economic system has become.”

Abrams took an unorthodox approach to her campaign in Georgia. She decided she was going to give a voice to those who felt theirs did not matter. Abrams visited 159 counties in Georgia. She wanted to build a coalition that is welcoming to everyone. Abrams built relationships with party leaders and grassroots leaders.

Her journey to become governor has been anything but a walk in the park. Her opponent Brian Kemp, who she lovingly calls the “Architect of voter suppression,” was pulling out all the stops. He refused to recuse himself as Secretary of State.

“It is really unconscionable that the person heading elections for the state is running on the top of the ticket,” said FSU (Florida State University) professor of political science and expert on national and state politics, Carol Weissert. “There is aclear conflict of interest since he is makingit harder for African Americans to vote.”

According to the Associated Press, approximately 53,000 voter registrations were put on hold because of the exact match law Kemp created. About 70 percent of the registrations were from African-Americans.

The voter registrations were on hold by Kemp because of inconsistencies found with the application information and government records. Those inconsistencies could range from missing a hyphen in a name, missing a middle initial, or missing an accent mark.

The exact match law requires voter registration information to match precisely with their driver’s licenses, state ID cards or Social Security records according to a website about Georgia government, public policy and politics.

The issue some people had with the ex- act match law is that it could cause fewer people to vote because they do not have IDs, or they do not understand if they arequalified to vote on election day.

This was not Abrams’s and Kemp’s first rodeo. Abrams’ non-partisan organization The New Ga. Project (founded to register 800,000 minorities to vote within a decade) sued Kemp in 2014 and a federal judge found that he illegally canceled 34,000 registrations using the exact match system.

Despite all the ruckus caused by thedifferent forms of voter suppression Abrams remained positive, determined and focused.

Abrams received significant endorsements from Oprah, former president Barack Obama and former president and governor of Georgia Jimmy Carter.

“Stacey Abrams is paving the way for many black females such as myself tomake a difference in our community. Sheis one of the individuals who I aspire to be because she is a leader in our commu- nity,” said FAMU sociology student Ann Desir.