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Stacey Abrams embodies the spirit of Black History Month and a reason to celebrate. In the words of Marian Wright Edelman, “Be a good ancestor. Stand for something bigger than yourself. Add value to the Earth during your sojourn.”

African Americans have had a complicated relationship to citizenship. Every privilege that accompanies it, was fought for, and eventually won, over hundreds of years. Countless people fought for freedoms that were not guaranteed in their lifetime, but they fought to benefit future generations. Standing for something bigger than oneself, believing it adds value to the lives of millions to come, takes courage and hope. Stacey Abrams is working for that future.

The ability to vote, is arguably the most recent right of citizenship that was fought and won. Spearheaded by civil rights leaders like Coretta and Martin Luther King Jr., the Voting Rights Act of 1965 banned racially motivated barriers to voting on the state and local level, granting African Americans the right to vote in all fifty states. However, freedom is not a static state. Impediments to voting still exist, whether they are intentional or happen stance. Stacey Abrams, a name that has become synonymous with voting accessibility and turnout, is on a mission to eradicate such impediments.

Stacey Abrams’ parents were activists during the civil rights movement and raised her and her five siblings with an emphasis on education and civic engagement. Her parents, “wanted us to understand that no matter what their circumstances were, they still have the right as Americans to demand more through the act of voting.”[1] Abrams carried these lessons throughout her collegiate endeavors, and they became the foundation of her work. In 2006, Abrams was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, and in 2010, became the U.S. house minority leader – the first Black woman to do so in Georgia.

In 2018, Abrams rose to national prominence when she ran for governor of Georgia. If elected, Abrams stood to become the first Black governor in state history. She lost that race by 55,000 votes. There were a series of allegations of racially motivated voter suppression during that election. As a response to her loss, Abrams redirected herself and her work to empowering people to use their voice with their vote. She founded Fair Fight Action, a national voting rights advocacy organization, committed to promoting fair elections, educating voters about their voting rights, and getting eligible voters registered to vote. For Stacey Abrams, voting access is about inclusivity. She stated, “The process of voting should be nonpartisan, and it should be a patriotic belief that every eligible American citizen should have unimpeded access to the right to vote.”[2]

Credited with registering 800,000 new voters in Georgia between 2018-2020, Abrams said, “Fair Fight was born out of me not winning. Not because I wanted to redo the election. I have no right to a victory. But, as a citizen, I have a right to a voice.” By standing for something bigger than herself, ensuring millions of people today and in the future have their voices heard through their votes, Abrams is a good ancestor.

[1] https://www.american.edu/news/stacey-abrams-kpu-voting.cfm

[2] https://www.cpr.org/2021/10/12/stacey-abrams-voting-rights-activist-on-why-voting-should-be-accessible-for-all/

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