Stacey Abrams – LIVES OF COMMITMENT 2019

Learn more about the 2019 Auburn Lives of Commitment Benefit Breakfast and Awards at auburnloc.org

By Paul Brandeis Raushenbush

At the heart of Stacey Abrams is a deep, abiding faith that has informed her way of life, love of people, and activism to create a better world. Abrams’ parents were Methodist ministers who taught her that the value of faith is to lift others up, as she explained:

I was raised to believe that my faith should never be a sword to strike down another community, it should always be a shield to protect.”

Early in life, Abrams learned that faith is supposed to reach out and bring people together. Growing up in Mississippi, Abrams’ father was committed to prison ministry and was dismayed to find that there was nowhere for the inmates to worship in prison. He went around the county seeking funds to build a worship space within the prison.

People responded, coming together because they shared her father’s faithful commitment to creating a space for everyone. This is the same faith and commitment that inspires Abrams in her own life and vocation:

The reason I consider myself a progressive is that my reading of the Bible says that Jesus was a progressive. The faith I practice believes in active service and active engagement.”

Abrams insists that every person is a child of God, deserving respect and the opportunity to fulfill their capacity in this world.

After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Spelman College, Abrams attended the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas and Yale Law School. She worked at Sutherland Law Firm before being appointed Deputy City Attorney for Atlanta at age 29. Abrams served in the Georgia General Assembly from 2007 to 2017, rising to the rank of Minority Leader before her run for Governor of Georgia in 2018.

During her time in public office, Abrams became painfully aware of the disenfranchisement of Black voters across the state of Georgia and the country. She founded the New Georgia Project in 2013, with the goal of registering 800,000 new voters of color within a decade. They understood that part of her own call was to make sure that the right to vote was both equitable and accessible.

Abrams made history in 2018 by becoming the first Black woman to represent a major party in Georgia’s Governor race. It was not her first attempt to enter the Governor’s mansion. When Abrams graduated from high school as valedictorian of her class, she and other valedictorians were invited to the Governor’s mansion. As Abrams recalls: “We arrived at the Governor’s mansion on public transit because my parents couldn’t afford to get us there any other way. This guard saw me, saw my parents, saw the bus, and told us we didn’t belong there.” Abrams spoke about this incident during her campaign: “I know what it feels like to be told you’re not enough, to be told you don’t belong, and the role that the Governor can play in Georgia and in America is to make certain every person believes they belong.”

Her opponent faced accusations of conflict of interest and voter suppression in his role as Secretary of State, acting as Georgia’s chief elections officer until he stepped down two days after the election. Abrams narrowly lost the election, and while she acknowledged that she was not the winner, she refused to concede. Instead, she re-committed herself to voting rights for all as a bedrock for American democracy, founding a new voter rights group called Fair Fight Action.

Voting rights are critical to America’s future. As Abrams stated in her response to the State of the Union address:

This is the next battle for our democracy, one where all eligible citizens can have their say about the vision we want for our country.”

Abrams has shown what faith-rooted commitment to justice can look like when it moves into electoral politics. Increasingly a political leader on the national stage, Abrams is said to be considering a run for the presidency. Abrams is one of thousands of Black women across the country who are helping to reimagine what America’s political leadership can look like. No matter where Abrams stands next, she will lead with integrity and a commitment to a future where, as her parents taught her, there is space for everyone to live together with dignity, in a nation and world where we all belong.

Learn more about the 2019 Auburn Lives of Commitment Benefit Breakfast and Awards at auburnloc.org

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