John Lewis knew Black equity couldn’t be obtained without the power to vote.
Something so precious must be important, right? Or else why would white folks continue to try to take it away? Because when portions of this country began restricting voting rights (again), black folks kind of all say to themselves, at the exact same time…
“Hmm, that’s odd.”
John Lewis, my parents, your grandmomma, they all tried to warn us. Our ancestors always warn us when trouble is afoot. They warn us because, clearly, they love us more than we love ourselves. And most of us listen, nod our head and say, “Ok.” Then we kind of stop thinking about it. We do our own thing. We make sure we are good with our registration, but then we just kind of leave it alone.
Stacey Abrams listened to the ancestors.
She peeped the same things we peeped back in 2008. The emergence of Voter ID laws. The constraints on same day registration and early voting. She saw white folks were making their subtle moves to suppress the voting rights our ancestors cared so much about. That’s why she founded The New Georgia Project in 2013, an initiative focused on registering minority voters in the state in an effort to broaden the electorate.
She started this project because she saw the writings on the wall. And she acted on it. She went to work for a party who don’t put in that same work for her. That’s what black women do. They always giving out more than they receive.
But she peeped Brian Kemp, then Georgia’s secretary of state, mass-canceled more than a million voter registrations between 2012 and 2018, which ultimately culminated in a tight gubernatorial race in 2018, which froze an estimated 53,000 registrations, a majority of them belonging to African American voters.
Abrams’ dream of being the Governor of Georgia was crushed by a 1.5% difference, and it was all due to the same voter suppression she fought so hard against.
Most would’ve packed it up and started making money. Maybe get a spot on CNN or MSNBC. Start or join a DC Consulting Firm which would allow her generate a hefty, well deserved salary, while flying private jets owned by some billionaire who claims he’s an environmentalist.
But she ain’t do that.
I guess she figured she still owed something to our ancestors, even if the ancestors would’ve told her, “Nah, you good. You did enough.” After her devastating loss, she stayed in Georgia and put in more work, working off the foundation she built during her 2018 run. In 2018, Abrams founded Fair Fight, a progressive group with a goal similar to the New Georgia Project of registering voters nationally and combating voter suppression in states like Georgia.
In only two years, the organization raised $32 million, much of which was directed to state Democratic parties to increase registration and grassroots organization. The group has also spearheaded lawsuits over the 2020 election and lobbied for state and federal legislation that would expand voting rights.
And now, for the first time since 1992, Georgia voted for the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. And now with the balance of the Senate at stake, election watchers expect that Georgia’s potential double-Senate runoff in January will also draw massive amounts of funding from both camps, including Democrats, on their knees, praying that a black woman saves them, AGAIN.
But, let’s chill on the present, for a second. What’s more important, here, is that Abrams built the playbook that not only turned Georgia blue, but will keep Georgia blue. She didn’t do this by luck or by accident or because this is some unprecedented time in history. Nah, she built a foundation with intelligence. She built a foundation with hard work. She built a foundation with perseverance. And more importantly, she built a foundation off the framework her ancestors constructed from their actual and literal blood, sweat and tears.
Voting and voting registration are so important to the ancestors. Besides selecting those who fit your representation, voting also means you are exercising your voice for or against paramount issues that affect marginalized communities like health-care access, affordable housing, school funding, fair sentencing, etc.
Voting allows us to decide on state and local ballot measures that could directly impact our way of life. Voting equates to resources. It always has, it always will. Democracies are usually set up that way, even if the democracy is draped in white supremacy. And without resources, Black equity can’t be achieved.
Our ancestors knew this. And racist white folks knew this.
And I thank god that Stacey Abrams knows this, too.
Leslie McLemore writes about a lot of different shit for Black With No Chaser. He is also the Takeaway Kang and is the father of two beautiful girls, one of which gets on every nerve he has. The other one is sweet. So, you know, balance.
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