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What Stacey Abrams and Black Women Did for Georgia

And the whole country

Stacey Abrams wears a face mask reading "VOTE"

While the results aren’t officially final yet, something incredible happened in Georgia in the very early hours of Friday morning, when a new batch of voting results came in and gave Joe Biden a lead over Donald Trump. This is a state that hasn’t elected a Democratic president since 1992 and now not only is Biden in the lead but both Senate races will be heading to run-off elections in January rather than going outright to the Republican incumbents.

This is a huge deal and much of the credit for it is rightfully going to Stacey Abrams, who had the 2018 gubernatorial race stolen from her by a corrupt secretary of state who was somehow allowed to oversee the race in which he himself was a candidate. Voter suppression ran rampant in that election, from a massive purge of voters from the state’s voter rolls to voting machines that were mysteriously missing their power cords.

There was talk at the time that Abrams might refocus on running for president, as Beto O’Rourke and others who lost their 2018 elections were doing. Instead, Abrams turned her attention to what was so clearly an essential issue: voting rights. She founded the organization Fair Fight and helped register 800,000 new voters in Georgia, without which there is no way we’d be seeing these results right now.

Abrams recently told NPR that “of those numbers, what we are excited about is that 45% of those new voters are under the age of 30. Forty-nine percent are people of color. And all 800,000 came on the rolls after November ’18, which means these are voters who weren’t eligible to vote for me but are eligible to participate in this upcoming election. And we have been working assiduously to get them turned out.”

Fair Fight was far from Abrams’ first foray into voting rights issues. From that same NPR interview:

So I created an organization about six years ago called the New Georgia Project. That has focused exclusively on voter registration. And New Georgia Project is part of a consortium of organizations that have been working hard to register voters of color and voters who are unlikely voters. We also have had easier voting processes made possible because of the Motor Voter Act being really fully implemented in the state of Georgia. And so 800,000 new voters are an incredible number, but the credit should be shared.

Abrams was definitely the most high-profile voting rights advocate in this election but as she herself says, this is the work of numerous on-the-ground activists and organizers, the majority of whom are Black women.

Even in the face of these results, some Democratic leaders and pundits are still insisting that progressivism is a scary thing that will alienate voters. They’re still pushing the narrative that working-class white voters are the most important demographic in winning an election, no matter how many times Black and BIPOC voters—and specifically women—keep proving them wrong.

(image: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.