Day One of The Root Institute kicked off in a major way with Stacey Abrams discussing her road to governor during an intimate conversation with the public. Abrams held nothing back as the Root questioned her about her status in the current Georgia race and how we can address voter suppression that’s happening in Republican-controlled houses throughout the country.
“It begins with being exercised about it,” Abrams said. “We saw that in the 2018 election there was an outrage that was palpable and led to conversations going into 2020 [about voting rights]. This narrative has developed that voter suppression existed but we dealt with it in 2020. In Brian Kemp’s first 4 years as governor, he passed laws that tried to satisfy some of the complaints we raised.
“But when it was effective and amplified voter participation, he said that the laws in Georgia changed and it was not due to any issue with voter integrity but that he was frustrated by the result. That is the textbook definition of voter suppression.”
Abrams also explained that action will always be the best way to change things. “We live in an ecosystem of injustice and every injustice we are concerned about can be addressed at the federal level. We sleep on voter suppression but voter suppression hasn’t gone to sleep. The very short answer to this is [to] vote.”
Abrams shared with everyone that in Georgia, 48 percent of the population is people of color. Under the next governor, it will become majority-minority and the only state where the majority of the state will be Black for the first time since Reconstruction. The race is close, she stated, but will never be portrayed that way.
“Polling is a snapshot but not a predictor,” she said. “Winning will only happen if people understand the urgency of the issue.”
She also shared how Kemp has stripped women of the right to choose, allowed six hospitals to close under his watch and that quite frankly, he has not “been a friend to Black folks.”
“People know what a president does and they know what a mayor does but they don’t necessarily know what a governor does. We’ve been so focused on this national narrative but ignoring local peril. We cannot ignore what preceded and what will follow. We have raised more money than any gubernatorial candidate in the history of Georgia. But elections work when you are building an electorate that is not usually considered part of change.”
As Abrams previously stated, she wants to ensure the Black male vote. However, her plan is aimed to help this vulnerable population.
“I’m polling in tandem with Raphael Warnock for Black voters but you’re not going to hear that,” she said. “Black men are disproportionately disenfranchised and incarcerated, they are denied access to jobs and contracts.” She wants fully funded schools, making technical college free again and an incarceration entrepreneurs program.
Toward the end of her talk, Abrams advised Black folks to go after exactly what they deserve.
“We are exhausted and we are numb,” she said. “Voting is not magic—magic changes everything. It’s fantastical and it feels great...but it’s not real. Voting is medicine and it is the only way to tackle the ills. Democracy is about what voting can deliver. What we do is borrow power but we deserve to hold power. Democracy dies when we forget that it is ours to hold.”