Stacey Abrams, ‘Superhero’ for Democrats in Georgia

Atlanta, Jan 6 (AFP/APP): From Joe Biden’s presidential win to gains in the Senate, the same name is repeatedly touted as being the power behind Democratic victories in Georgia: Stacey Abrams.

The former lawmaker has been working for a decade to mobilize minority voters in the long conservative state still heavily marked by the wounds of slavery and segregation. On Wednesday, as Congress began certifying Joe Biden’s presidential win — in part due to his victory in Georgia — and two new Democrats appeared headed to the Senate, it seemed clear that the organizing and hard work had paid off.

The apparent Senate wins by Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff mean Democrats are poised to regain control of the upper house — handing Biden all the levers of legislative power. And thankful progressives on social media were not holding back in their praise for Abrams.

“STACEY ABRAMS IS A GODDESS,” the singer Cher tweeted, while Marvel actor Mark Ruffalo called her “a real superhero.” Soccer star Megan Rapinoe, in effusive all caps, meanwhile wanted to know “WHEN THE STATUE GOING UP!?”

Stoic in my outrage

Abrams, 47, a law graduate of prestigious Yale University and a former tax attorney, served as a member of the Georgia General Assembly for ten years. She led the state House of Representative’s Democratic caucus between 2011 and 2017 — the first woman to lead either party in the General Assembly and the first African American person leading a party in the lower house.

Abrams ran for governor of Georgia in 2018, becoming the first black woman candidate in the United States for the position. She was defeated by Republican rival Brian Kemp — but not without denouncing what she saw as the suppression of minority voters.

“I should be stoic in my outrage and silent in my rebuke. But stoicism is a luxury, and silence is a weapon for those who would quiet the voices of the people,” she said in a passionate speech that propelled her to the national stage. Abrams founded the Fair Fight organization in 2019, working to enable “free and fair” elections. Earlier she had launched the New Georgia Project, enabling the registration of tens of thousands of Georgia voters.

That grassroots work to mobilize black and minority voters, in alliance with other organizations such as Black Voters Matter, had a key impact on Biden’s razor-thin victory in Georgia in November — a first for a Democratic candidate since 1992 — and on the Senate gains. “This is a multiracial, multiethnic, multigenerational coalition,” she recently told the New York Times. What Abrams does next will be closely watched.

She was among those touted as a candidate first for the 2020 election, and then as Biden’s running mate. Twitter was divided between sending her on vacation and putting her in charge of the lumbering Covid-19 vaccine rollout. As for Abrams herself, it seems clear that whatever she does she will continue her fight to empower minorities.

“As a young black woman, growing up in Mississippi, I learned that if you don’t raise your hand, people won’t see you,” she told CNN in April last year. “But it’s not about attention for being the running mate, it is about making sure that my qualifications aren’t in question, because they’re not just speaking to me, they’re speaking to young black women, young women of color, young people of color, who wonder if they too can be seen.”

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