Spotlight: Stacey Yvonne Abrams



Stacey Yvonne Abrams is a politician, lawyer, and activist who advocates for voting rights in the U.S. She was born in December 1973 in Madison, Wisconsin, and raised in Gulfport, Mississippi. Later, her family relocated to Georgia, where she attended Avondale High School and graduated as a valedictorian. Her interest in American politics was fueled at an early age when she was employed as a typist for a congressional campaign, and her stellar performance in this role led to her promotion as a speechwriter while still in secondary school.


In 1995, Abrams graduated with a B.A. degree in interdisciplinary studies from Spelman College. As a student, Abrams worked in the youth services department in Atlanta's mayor's office. She demonstrated her interest in justice and activism in 1992 when she participated in a peaceful protest at the Georgia Capitol. In this protest, she was advocating for the removal of the Confederate symbol from the Georgia State Flag, thereby promoting an end to the racial divisiveness that this symbol represented (Kemp, 2018). Abrams earned a Master of Public Affairs degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1998, and thereafter, obtained a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Yale Law School in 1999.


At 29 years old, Abrams was appointed as the Deputy City Attorney in Atlanta (McFarland, 2019). In 2006, Abrams was elected as a House Representative in Georgia, and in 2010 she was selected to be the successor of minority leader, DuBose Porter. As minority leader, Abrams reformed the HOPE Scholarship program, a merit-based award available to Georgia students who have demonstrated academic achievement, and co-sponsored legislation in 2011 that rejuvenated the program by funding a low-interest loan for recipients. As part of her political legacy, Abrams stopped the most extensive tax increase in Georgia’s history and made significant contributions to Georgia's criminal justice system. Her policies demonstrated that reducing expenditure for state prisons and incarceration does not result in an increase in the crime rate, which was a matter of debate in the state for years (McFarland, 2019).


In her 2018 run for the gubernatorial seat, Abrams was endorsed by high-profile individuals, such as former U.S. President Barack Obama, and became the first black woman in the U.S. to receive a major party nomination for governor. However, Abrams lost the election. Though Abrams alleged that the polls were conducted unfairly and that there were incidents of voter suppression, she did not challenge the election results (Abrams et al., 2020). Instead, she founded Fair Fight Action in 2020, an organization that focuses on promoting free and fair elections for Georgians and citizens across the U.S., especially for voters of color and young voters. Fair Fight Action supports voter protection groups in 20 states and raises public awareness on election reform and engages in voter education and communication programs. Abrams’ relentless fight for civil rights was evident during the 2020 Presidential Election; she spearheaded the “Get Out the Vote” initiative, which is recognized for boosting President Biden's votes in Georgia with almost 800,000 new voter registrations (McFarland, 2019).


Achievements

Throughout her career, Stacey Abrams has received many awards and accolades for her activism. In 2012, she won the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award from Harvard University, an award given to honor elected officials under the age of 40 whose work portrays the impact of public service as a means to addressing community issues. Abrams was also recognized and published in magazines: in 2014, the Governing Magazine listed her as the “Public Official of the Year”, which is given to recognize state or local officials for their unique achievements, and from 2012 to 2017, Abrams was ranked among the “Top 100 Most Influential Individuals in Georgia” by the Georgia Trend Magazine. She received the inaugural “Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award” in 2014, which marked her achievement and success as a politician and activist. She was then selected for the Aspen Rodel Fellowship, a program that supports and inspires high ethical standards and civil bipartisan dialogue to help elected officials throughout America achieve their full potential as public servants. In 2014, she was ranked the eleventh “Most Influential Young African American” by The Root, an online African American publication. By 2019, Abrams’ outstanding work afforded her the top position on this list (McFarland, 2019). As of February 2021, Abrams’ campaign to promote social change through voting reform has earned her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.


Stacey Abrams’ relentless efforts to combat voter suppression have catalyzed a new wave of political advocacy and engagement throughout the United States. At Equanimity Foundation (EQF), we celebrate Stacey Abram's achievements and activism. We support her fight against voter suppression and wish her and Fair Fight Action the best for years to come.



References

Abrams, S., Anderson, C., Kruse, K. M., Richardson, H. C., & Thompson, H. A. (2020). Voter Suppression in US Elections. University of Georgia Press. Retrieved from:

https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=NX_rDwAAQBAJ&lpg=PP1&ots=htNiqWPJ8h&dq=stacey%20abrams&lr&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=stacey%20abrams&f=false.

Kemp, B. (2018). Stacey Abrams Retrieved from: https://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/inkwell .

McFarland, G. (2019). Stacey Abrams: never conquered. Always black. Retrieved from: https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/handle/123456789/49753.


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