By Tyra Wilkes
Many African Americans and Democrats rallied around Stacey Abrams as she took on Brian Kemp in the 2018 run for governorship in the state of Georgia. After a 10-day standoff, Abrams lost to Kemp, and chose to use her voice and reach to support causes that have greatly affected our communities for decades; voter suppression and the improper counting of Americans in the census. Her advocacy and leadership led her to serve as the speaker for the Democratic counter State of the Union address in 2019.
Abrams—with her usual bright smile and vivacious energy—sat alongside legendary Washington Post Reporter, Dorothy Gilliam, to discuss these very issues and dialogue about her call-to-action and how the public can play a role in carrying out this mission.
As a political innovator who was inspired by her own challenge with flawed voting practices, Abrams formed Fair Fight to serve as the epicenter for organizing and executing her goal of ensuring that every American vote is counted. “Americans deserve fair elections,” Abrams told Gilliam and attendees who gathered in the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church. She followed with the story of a 92-year-old woman who went to the polls to vote for Abrams because for the first time since 1968, she was able to check the box next to the name of Black woman.
Voter suppression has been present for decades and discussed in whispered conversations and news stories that quickly get buried. However, the effects were brought to a national platform during Abrams 2018 election. “We have to participate as if our lives depend on it, because they do,” Abrams told listeners. There are systemic policies in place to prevent our voices from being heard. There are Native Americans living on reservations without addresses, who have been told that they’re unable to vote without an address. The Supreme Court voted that this was fair. Cases like this happen all over the country, and through Fair Fight, you can volunteer to conquer this issue in your immediate community.
She emphasized that is imperative that we each take action, however we can and use our voices for a shared purpose. “He is beatable. Our outrage has to be more than social media hits and funny memes,” she said. “We keep waiting for people to save us instead of telling candidates what we want,” the former Georgia Representative told the packed pews of the Metropolitan A.M.E Church. “Participate as if your lives depend on it, because they do.”
According to Abrams, here are strategies we can implement ahead of the 2020 Presidential Election to guarantee our preparedness and knowledge of candidates who will truly serve us:
Go out and see candidates. Ask them questions and require answers.
Make certain that you’re talking to your friends and family who aren’t into politics. Ask them why they don’t vote. Ask them what they need and lead them to candidates with those ideologies.
Don’t give up when it doesn’t go your way. Politicians are people, too. They make mistakes. Rather than turn your back on them, ask questions and tell them what you want.
Fair Fight needs all hands-on deck to fund and train voter protection teams on-the-ground in battleground states across the country. To learn how you can help end voter suppression, visit FairFight.com.
This article originally appeared in The Afro.