ActivismPolitics

trust black women: “why i’m voting for stacey abrams”

November 5, 2018
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Remember this in the darkest moments, when the work doesn’t seem worth it, and change seems just out of reach: out of our willingness to push through comes a tremendous power… Use it.” —Stacey Abrams

On June 3, 2017 Stacey Abrams announced that she was running for Governor of Georgia. On November 6, 2018, I am asking you to trust Black women in positions of power. If elected, Abrams will not only become the first Black woman elected as that state’s Governor, she will be the first Black woman elected as Governor in the history of the United States of America.

Since her days at Spelman College, Abrams has been a force to be reckoned with. In 1993, at the 30th anniversary of the March on Washington, she addressed thousands of people on issues she seeks to address as Governor. Her vision includes strengthening pathways to debt-free graduation for college students and advanced criminal justice reform, including the elimination of cash bail, fines instead of jail time for small amounts of marijuana, and increased diversion and re-entry programs. As I evaluate the current political climate, many people of color across the country will be acute with nostalgia as we reminisce on Obama’s election if Abrams is elected. Talk about Black girl magic!

In 2007, Stacey Abrams was first elected State Representative for the 89th House District. In 2010, she became the first woman to lead either party in the Georgia General Assembly, and the first African-American to lead a party in the House of Representatives. In 2014, Abrams spearheaded the New Georgia Project, an organizations that was created to increase voter engagement amongst people of color. Abrams realized that people of color made up 62% of the voting-age population in Georgia, but only 53% of them were registered voters. That is why between 2014-2016 her organization registered between 200,000 eligible voters. Abrams is clearly not only the candidate Georgia needs, but the candidate America needs.

Efforts to suppress the vote and depress voter turnout are alive and well in Georgia.” — Stacey Abrams

Brian Kemp, Abrams’ opponent, currently serves as Georgia’s Secretary of State. So, you’re asking yourself, “what does her opponent have to do with Black Georgia voters?” As Secretary of State, Kemp oversees all Georgia elections. It is because of her opponent that 850,000 voters were removed off of the Georgia voter rolls because they didn’t vote in two general-election cycles. Using the “exact match” system, Kemp has suspended or cancelled more than 35,000 voter registrations. Kemp’s efforts to suppress the Black vote move beyond voter registration, to physical access to the voting booth itself. One-third of Georgia’s counties have fewer voting precincts today than they did in 2012. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Of the counties that have closed voting locations, 39 have poverty rates that are higher than the state average. Thirty have significant African-American populations, making up at least 25 percent of residents.”

We will all, at some point, encounter hurdles to gaining access and entry, moving up and conquering self-doubt; but on the other side is the capacity to own opportunity and tell our own story.” — Stacey Abrams

Historically, our people lacked access politically, but for the sake of time I will pay attention to the 1890’s around the time of Ida B. Wells Anti-Lynching Campaign, when Southern states enacted literacy tests, poll taxes, violence, and complicated registration systems to make it almost impossible to become a registered voter. It wasn’t until 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, that a law aimed to overcome state and local barriers that prevented African-Americans from exercising their right to vote as guaranteed under the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution come into existence. When you think about the sacrifice our ancestors made just to register to vote, how could you not be moved? Especially when people like Brian Kemp seek to take us back? He is a candidate backed by the Trump administration, who proudly voices his hatred for marginalized people of this country.

This week in Georgia, early voting has passed the 1.5 million voter participation mark, and I am proud to say I was a part of that 1.5 million. In the spirit of Fannie Lou Hammer, Mary McLeod Bethune, Dorthy Height, and Shirley Chisholm, I support Stacey Abrams and I encourage you to do the same. Black women have carried our movements despite their work going unnoticed, whether during feminism’s first wave, or during the civil rights movement. As we move closer to November 6th, I echo to all Georgians: TRUST BLACK WOMEN in positions of power, and vote for my Spelman sister, Stacey Abrams.

Mary-Pat Hector is a junior at Spelman College. In 2017, she became the youngest woman and person of color to run for office in the state of Georgia. Mary-Pat is the National Youth Director for National Action Network, one of the largest Civil Rights organizations in the U.S.;  founder of the Think Twice anti-gun violence campaign, and Youth Leader for Usher’s New Look Foundation.

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