Stacey Abrams on Civil Rights

Democratic Gubernatorial Challenger (GA); 2020 Veepstakes contender


Add race, gender, and class to "Founding Fathers"

In the early history of the United States, political players pretty much looked alike. The moniker we use pretty much says it all: the Founding Fathers. If we add the modifier "white", then the description would be accurate.

The US Constitution reveals this original identity as the one to be protected at all costs. Social movements anchored by the identity began nearly as soon as the country did, between the abolitionists opposing slavery, women demanding suffrage and equality, and the poor of every race being exploited for their labor. The fight over slavery lead inexorably to the civil War, Reconstruction and Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights Movement. Women's suffrage became a multigenerational movement that culminated in the Equal Rights movement. Juxtaposed beside these fights over race and gender, Americans have long waged a political fight to use class and centrifugal force, and in several ways, class identity has had more success and a nearly parallel history.

Source: Our Time Is Now, by Stacey Abrams, p.150-1 , Jun 9, 2020

LGBTQ+ played identity politics for 150 years

The development of identity politics for the LGBTQ+ community has stretched over nearly150 years in America. Forced for most of American history into the shadows of daily life, the emergence of a social movement got it's initial start during World War 2, the first interrogation of "don't ask don't tell" led to members of LGBTQ+ community enlisting in armed forces, and a relaxation of social restraints permitted more open behaviors. The public demand for equality for the LGBTQ+ community coincided and intersected with the rise of the civil rights movement. The stonewall movement, which began with a raid of a gay club in 1969, launched a more sustained effort to gain equality in mental health treatment, healthcare, housing, employment, marriage, and adoption. What remains a tension in the LGTBQ+ movements are the conflicts that race ,class and gender expose when wrapped in the national debate on sexual orientation.
Source: Our Time Is Now, by Stacey Abrams, p.157 , Jun 9, 2020

Remove evil Confederate monuments, but not top priority

[At a press conference, a woman] asked about my position on Stone Mountain, the massive bas-relief of Confederate generals commissioned by the same men who restarted the KKK in Georgia. Specifically, she wanted me to justify my comments a year earlier about removing the carvings.

Patiently, I explained my deep animosity toward the Confederate generals' carvings. The men glorified in the etchings had fought to keep blacks as slaves, and they had been willing to terrorize a nation to achieve their ends. I had grown up in a town where visiting the last home of the president of the confederacy was a right of passage for someone, even though it meant tourist tromping around shacks where enslaved black men and women had lived in squalor and horror. Still, I explained, while I despised the monument to their evil, it's removal wasn't top of my to do list.

Source: Our Time Is Now, by Stacey Abrams, p.194-5 , Jun 9, 2020

Voter suppression is rigging the game

Q: Do you believe that elections are essentially rigged?

ABRAMS: What I mean by rigged is this: we have a right to vote that is afforded to eligible American citizens, but we have seen over the last 20 years a constriction on who has the right to use that right. We have seen it through voter ID laws. You can't get on the rolls. And if you get on the rolls you can't stay. You may not be able to cast your ballot, because they close your precinct or they change the rules, that's rigging the game. Q: It rarely comes up that people are worried about voter suppression. You feel this is more important than other issues?

ABRAMS: No. I think this is fundamental to tackling those other issues. The ability to vote is how you tackle climate change. We can't have climate change legislation simply by wishing it. We have to be able to vote into office our representatives.

Source: ABC This Week interview for 2020 Veepstakes , Aug 18, 2019

Voter suppression is an existential crisis in the US

voting rights are essential and fundamental to democracy. We are facing an existential crisis in the United States. When our democracy is shredded by a naked pursuit of power that allows states to suppress the right to vote, and handicaps or neuters our only federal response, which was the Voting Rights Act, we face a crippling challenge to our democracy.
Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2022 Georgia Governor race , May 10, 2019

Inspire running for office:You cannot be what you cannot see

Sometimes, we inadvertently constrict the aspirations of those who share our particular strain of otherness. We need to be in it for others like us.

The imperative of showing it can be done is only logical. When no one in a poor neighborhood owns a business, the idea of entrepreneurship scarcely takes root. Kids who have never met a college graduate tend not to pursue higher education. Groups like Emily's List and Higher Heights for America know how to convince women how to run an office, especially women of color, you must tell them about other women who have run for office in the past, even after they have actually won. The pithy saying goes, "You cannot be what you cannot see."

Source: Lead from the Outside, by Stacey Abrams, p. 77 , Mar 26, 2019

Entered politics in 1992 with Rodney King riots

I can easily trace my goal of becoming mayor to my freshman year of college. In that spring of 1992, America exploded when the Rodney King verdict was announced. In downtown Atlanta, where I attended school, young black men and women smashed windows, overturned cars, and ransacked the city. For my part, I joined with fellow students in a silent march.

Yet, although I helped lead the peaceful protest, I understood what drove those angry young people to hurl bottles and shout epithets.

Source: Lead from the Outside, by Stacey Abrams, p. 15-17 , Mar 26, 2019

Call racism what it is: wrong

America has stumbled time and again on its quest towards justice and equality; but with each generation, we have revisited our fundamental truths, and where we falter, we make amends.

We fought Jim Crow with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, yet we continue to confront racism from our past and in our present--which is why we must hold everyone from the very highest offices to our own families accountable for racist words and deeds--and call racism what it is. Wrong.

Source: Democratic response to 2019 State of the Union speech , Feb 5, 2019

Takes a strong stand against voter suppression efforts

Abrams ran a progressive campaign advocating Medicare expansion and public education reform. After the votes came in, she refused to concede defeat, accusing now-Gov. Brian Kemp (R) of efforts to disenfranchise black voters in the state. (Kemp, who refused to recuse himself as secretary of State during the election, has denied the charge.) She has doubled down on the cause, starting Fair Fight Georgia, an anti-voter-suppression organization.
Source: Christian Science Monitor on 2020 Democratic primary , Feb 5, 2019

Those who paid debt to society should be re-enfranchised

What I want to point out is that Florida had the most egregious laws when it came to felony voter re-enfranchisement. I do believe that anyone in America who is an American citizen, who's a taxpayer, who has paid their debt to society, should be re-enfranchised, and it should not be an obstacle course. I'm proud of the state of Florida for taking the step to make that re-enfranchisement possible.
Source: Democracy Now on 2020 Georgia Gubernatorial race , Jan 31, 2019

Upholding military transgender ban is an abomination

Q: Supreme Court voted to temporarily uphold the trans ban in the military. Your thoughts?

ABRAMS: I think it's an abomination. These are men and women who have protected our country for the last few years, since President Obama opened up the military. What the conservative bloc of the Supreme Court has done is said that they are willing to put us in harm's way to suborn discrimination and bigotry coming from the White House. There is no rational purpose for this. There is no rational need.

Source: Democracy Now on 2020 Georgia Gubernatorial race , Jan 31, 2019

Basic fairness: we must ensure that every vote is counted

Georgians on all sides of the aisle are deeply concerned about the integrity of our election system. As a matter of basic fairness, we must ensure that every eligible Georgian's vote is counted, and pledge to prevent the widespread irregularities faced by Georgia voters in this election cycle from happening ever again. Our democracy--and our people--deserve no less.
Source: Medium e-zine on 2018 Georgia Governor race , Nov 12, 2018

Leaders should show that differences needn't be barriers

Part of the job of leaders is to show why difference doesn't have to be a barrier. My colleague Simone Bell held the distinction of being the first openly African American lesbian elected to a state legislature. Simone joined a Southern legislature that had awkwardly grappled with its first white lesbian ten years before, but mixing stereotypes of gender and sexual orientation with race proved too much for some veterans in the House. One member, a Democratic ally, urged me to tell Simone not to mention her status so often. It was making members uncomfortable. But for Simone, not only was her sexual orientation essential to her identity, it was central to her reasoning for running for office. She won her seat not because of her sexual orientation but because of what it signaled to an economically depressed, largely black community. Here is a woman who understood hardship and had fought against the very oppressions that seemed to seethe unchecked in their communities.
Source: Minority Leader, by Stacey Abrams, p.46 , Apr 24, 2018

For women & people of color, double standards are a constant

Regardless of how we get in the door or up the ladder, we can never forget that the expectations for us are not the same. For women and people of color, the notion of a double standard is constant. For women of color triple standards abound. Getting inside obliges us to increase our efforts even when we are tempted to coast on our success. Opportunity places even the most successful minorities between a rock and a hard place-trying to manifest the traits to signal we are qualified and have a right to be present while also holding fast to the qualities that got us inside in the first place.

Holding opportunity means learning how to position ourselves to constantly refute the soft prejudices held against us. No matter how else they do it, we are always required to be credentialed. Whether the bona fides come in the form of advanced education, respected training courses, or job titles, be prepared to show your credentials.

Source: Minority Leader, by Stacey Abrams, p.74-75 , Apr 24, 2018

No discrimination, including against LGBTQ

We must demand that our workplaces never discriminate based on a person's race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, disability, or immigration status. A proud LGBTQ* ally, Stacey co-sponsored civil rights legislation in Georgia, fought against "religious freedom" legislation, and co-signed bills to prohibit employer termination of LGBTQ* Georgians based on their status.
Source: 2018 Georgia Gubernatorial website StaceyAbrams.com , Sep 1, 2017

No discrimination, including against LGBTQ

We must demand that our workplaces never discriminate based on a person's race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, disability, or immigration status. A proud LGBTQ* ally, Stacey co-sponsored civil rights legislation in Georgia, fought against "religious freedom" legislation, and co-signed bills to prohibit employer termination of LGBTQ* Georgians based on their status.
Source: 2018 Georgia Governor website StaceyAbrams.com , Aug 17, 2017

Reflect on terrible Confederacy in museums, not monuments

Rep. Abrams on Twitter: "The removal of the bas relief [sculptures] of Confederates from Stone Mountain has been a constant debate since the state bought the property in 1958. Paid for by founders of the 2nd KKK, the monument had no purpose other than celebration of racism, terror & division when carved in 1915. We must never celebrate those who defended slavery and tried to destroy the Union. Confederate monuments belong in museums where we can study and reflect on that terrible history, not in places of honor across our state. The managers of Stone Mountain have taken steps to educate with a powerful audio tour to return the listener to the horrors of slavery. But the visible image of Stone Mountain's edifice remains a blight on our state and should be removed. State leg led by the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus have pushed for action for decades. I supported action then & I renew calls now."
Source: WABE on Twitter post for 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race , Aug 16, 2017

Welcome everyone, instead of "religious liberty"

Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed the "religious liberty" bill that triggered a wave of criticism from gay rights groups and business leaders. In a press conference at the state Capitol, Deal said House Bill 757 doesn't reflect Georgia's welcoming image as a state full of "warm, friendly and loving people"--and warned critics that he doesn't respond well to threats of payback for rejecting the measure.

The governor's veto infuriated religious conservatives who considered the measure, House Bill 757, their top priority. Last year's Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex weddings galvanized their efforts. In stark terms, the governor said earlier this year that he would reject any measure that "allows discrimination in our state in order to protect people of faith." Rooting his critique in biblical language, he urged fellow Republicans to "recognize that the world is changing."

Rep. Abrams voted NO; passed Senate 37-18-1 Mar.16; passed House 104-65-11 Mar.16

Source: AJC on Georgia legislative voting records: HB 757 , Apr 9, 2016

Other governors on Civil Rights: Stacey Abrams on other issues:
GA Gubernatorial:
Andrew Hunt
Brian Kemp
Casey Cagle
David Perdue
Hunter Hill
Jason Carter
Kandiss Taylor
Keisha Lance Bottoms
Nathan Deal
Shane Hazel
Vernon Jones
GA Senatorial:
Allen Buckley
David Perdue
Derrick Grayson
Doug Collins
Ed Tarver
Jason Carter
Jim Barksdale
John Barrow
Johnny Isakson
Jon Ossoff
Kelly Loeffler
Matt Lieberman
Raphael Warnock
Shane Hazel
Ted Terry
Teresa Tomlinson
Tom Price
Valencia Stovall
Gubernatorial Debates 2021:
CA Recall:
S.D.Mayor Kevin_Faulconer(R)
vs.Former Gov. nominee John Cox(R)
vs.Former U.S.Rep Doug Ose(R)
vs.Laura Smith(R)
vs.Former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner(R)
vs.Radio Host Larry Elder(R)
vs.Kevin Paffrath(D)
vs.Gavin Newsom(D)
NJ: Incumbent Phil Murphy(D)
vs.State Rep. Jack Ciattarelli(R)
vs.Candidate Hirsh Singh(R)
vs.GOP Chair Doug Steinhardt(R)
VA: Incumbent Ralph Northam(D,term-limited)
vs.Former Governor Terry McAuliffe(D)
vs.CEO Glenn Youngkin(R)
vs.A.G. Mark Herring(D)
vs.State Sen. Amanda Chase(I)
vs.Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax(D)
vs.State Rep. Jennifer Carroll Foy(D)
vs.State Rep. Lee Carter(D)
vs.State Sen. Jennifer McClellan(D)
vs.State Rep. Kirk Cox(R)
vs.CEO Pete Snyder(R)

Gubernatorial Debates 2023:
KY: Incumbent Andy Beshear(D)
vs.Former Gov. Matt Bevin(? R)

vs.Senator Rand Paul(? R)
vs.State Auditor Mike Harmon(R)
LA: Incumbent John Bel Edwards(D,term-limited)
vs.Biden Adviser Cedric Richmond(? D)
vs.Senator John Neely Kennedy(? R)
MS: Incumbent Tate Reeves(R)
vs.Bill Waller(R)

Gubernatorial Debates 2022:
AK: Incumbent Mike Dunleavy(R)
vs.Bill Walker(I)
vs.Les Gara(D)
vs.Billy Toien(L)
vs.State Rep. Chris Kurka(R)
AL: Incumbent Kay Ivey(R)
vs.Chris Countryman(D)
vs.Stacy Lee George(R)
vs.Ambassador Lynda Blanchard(R)
vs.State Sen. Malika Sanders-Fortier(D)
vs.Challenger Tim James(R)
AR: Incumbent Asa Hutchinson(R,term-limited)
vs.Trump Adviser Sarah Huckabee Sanders(R)
vs.A.G. Leslie Rutledge(R,withdrew Nov.2021)
vs.Ricky Dale Harrington(L)
vs.Anthony Bland(D)
AZ: Incumbent Doug Ducey(R,term-limited)
Mayor Marco Lopez(D)
vs.Former news anchor Kari Lake(R)
vs.Secretary of State Katie Hobbs(D)
vs.State Treasurer Kimberly Yee(R)
vs.U.S.Rep.Matt Salmon(R)
vs.Steve Gaynor(R)
vs.State Rep.Aaron Lieberman(D)
vs.Jorge Rivas(R)
vs.Karrin Taylor Robson(R)
CA: Incumbent Gavin Newsom(D)
vs.S.D.Mayor Kevin_Faulconer(R)
vs.Former Gov. nominee John Cox(R)
vs.Kevin Paffrath(D)
vs.State Sen. Brian Dahle(R)
CO: Incumbent Jared Polis(D)
vs.Mayor Greg Lopez(R)
vs.Heidi Ganahl(R)
CT: Incumbent Ned Lamont(D)
vs.Bob Stefanowski(? R)
FL: Incumbent Ron DeSantis(R)
vs.Former Gov.Charlie Crist(D)
vs.Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried(D)
vs.Annette Taddeo(D)
vs.Brian Moore(G)
GA: Incumbent Brian Kemp(R)
vs.Minority Leader Stacey Abrams(D)
vs.Senate candidate Shane Hazel(L)
vs.State Rep.Vernon Jones(R)
vs.2020 candidate Kandiss Taylor(R)
vs.Senator David Perdue(R)
HI: Incumbent David Ige(D,term-limited)
vs.Marissa Kerns(R)
vs.Lt.Gov.Josh Green(D)
vs.Vicky Cayetano(D)
vs.Paul Morgan(R)
vs.State Rep.Kirk Caldwell(D)
vs.U.S.Rep.Kai Kahele(D)
IA: Incumbent Kim Reynolds(R)
vs.Deidre DeJear(D)
vs.State Rep.Ras Smith(D)
ID: Incumbent Brad Little(R)
vs.Stephen Heidt(D)
vs.Raul Labrador(R)
vs.Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin(R)
vs.Ammon Bundy(R)
vs.Ed Humphreys(R)
IL: Incumbent J.B. Pritzker(D)
vs.State Sen.Darren Bailey(R)
vs.Paul Schimpf(R)
vs.Jesse Sullivan(R)
KS: Incumbent Laura Kelly(D)
vs.Jeff Colyer(R)
vs.State Sen.Derek Schmidt(R)
vs.Chase LaPorte(R)
Gubernatorial Debates 2022 (continued):
MA: Incumbent Charlie Baker(R)
vs.Lt.Gov.Karyn Polito(R)
vs.State Rep. Geoff Diehl(R)
vs.Harvard Professor Danielle Allen(D)
vs.State Sen.Ben Downing(D)
vs.State Sen.Sonia Chang-Diaz(D)
vs.Shiva Ayyadurai(I)
vs.A.G. Maura Healey(D)
MD: Incumbent Larry Hogan(R,term-limited)
vs.State Del.Robin Ficker(R) vs.State Del.Peter Franchot(D) vs.State Del.Kelly M. Schulz(R) vs.Secretary John B. King(D) vs.Ashwani Jain(D) vs.State A.G. Doug Gansler(D) vs.County Exec. Rushern Baker(D) vs.Secretary Thomas Perez(D) vs.Wes Moore(D) vs.Dan Cox(R)
ME: Incumbent Janet Mills(D)
vs.Former Gov. Paul LePage(R)
MI: Incumbent Gretchen Whitmer(D)
vs.Chief James Craig(R)
vs.Police Chief Tudor Dixon(R)
vs.Garrett Soldano(R)
vs.John E. James(? R)
MN: Incumbent Tim Walz(DFL)
vs.Mayor Mike Murphy(R)
vs.State Sen.Scott Jensen(R)
vs.Michelle Benson(R)
vs.Paul Gazelka(R)
NE: Incumbent Pete Ricketts(R,term-limited)
vs.U.S.Senator Bob Krist(R)
vs.Chuck Herbster(R)
vs.Jim Pillen(R)
vs.Brett Lindstrom(R)
vs.Carol Blood(D)
vs.State Sen. Theresa Thibodeau(R)
NH: Incumbent Chris Sununu(R)
vs.Dan Feltes(D)
vs.Karen Testerman(R)
NM: Incumbent Michelle Lujan Grisham(D)
vs.Commissioner Jay Block(R)
vs.State Rep.Rebecca Dow(R)
vs.Mark Ronchetti(R)
NV: Incumbent Steve Sisolak(D)
vs.A.G.Adam Laxalt(R)
vs.North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee(R)
vs.Dean Heller(R)
vs.Joe Lombardo(R)
vs.Mayor Michele Fiore(R)
NY: Incumbent Andrew Cuomo(D,resigned)
vs.Acting Gov.Kathy Hochul(D)
vs.Rob Astorino(R)
vs.Andrew Giuliani(R)
vs.US.Rep.Lee Zeldin(R)
vs.Tom Suozzi(D)
vs.Attorney General Letitia James(D)
OH: Incumbent Mike DeWine(R)
vs.Former Rep.Jim Renacci(R)
vs.Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley(D)
vs.Mayor John Cranley(D)
OK: Incumbent Kevin Stitt(R)
vs.State Sen. Ervin Yen(R)
vs.Connie Johnson(D)
vs.Joy Hofmeister(D)
vs.Natalie Bruno(L)
OR: Incumbent Kate Brown(D,term-limited)
vs.Gov. nominee Bud Pierce(R)
vs.Paul Romero(R)
vs.Casey Kulla(D)
vs.Kerry McQuisten(R)
vs.Tina Kotek(D)
vs.Nicholas Kristof(D)
vs.Tobias Read(D)
vs.State Rep. Christine Drazan(R)
PA: Incumbent Tom Wolf(D,term-limited)
vs.U.S.Rep. Lou Barletta(R)
vs.Commissioner Joe Gale(R)
vs.A.G.Josh Shapiro(D)
vs.William McSwain(R)
vs.U.S.Rep.Melissa Hart(R)
vs.State Sen.Scott Martin(R)
vs.State Sen. Scott Martin(R)
vs.State Sen. Doug Mastriano(R)
RI: Incumbent Gina Raimondo(D,to Cabinet)
vs.Gov. Dan McKee(D)
vs.Secy.Matt Brown(D)
vs.Mayor Allan Fung(R ?)
vs.Luis-Daniel Munoz(D)
vs.RI Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea(D)
vs.Seth Magainer(D)
vs.Helena Foulkes(D)
SC: Incumbent Henry McMaster(R)
vs.US.Rep.Joe Cunningham(D)
vs.State senator Mia McLeod(D)
SD: Incumbent Kristi Noem(R)
vs.State Rep. Billie Sutton(? D)
vs.Speaker Steven Haugaard(R)
TN: Incumbent Bill Lee(R)
vs.Carnita Atwater(D)
vs.J B Smiley(D)
TX: Incumbent Greg Abbott(R)
vs.Beto O`Rourke(D)
vs.Chad Prather(R)
vs.State Sen.Don Huffines(R)
vs.U.S.Rep. Allen West(R)
vs.Deidre Gilbert(D)
VT: Incumbent Phil Scott(R)
(no prospective opponents yet)
WI: Incumbent Tony Evers(D)
vs.CEO Jonathan Wichmann(R)
vs.Rebecca Kleefisch(R)
vs.State Rep. Timothy Ramthun(R)
WY: Incumbent Mark Gordon(R)
vs.Rex Rammell(R)
vs.Minority Leader Chris Rothfuss(? D)
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Page last updated: May 19, 2022