Stacey Abrams: Why Your Story—and Vote—Matter

May 14 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Trip Down Memory Lane

When I tell these stories here at On The Dot, I often mention the Woman to Watch’s upbringing. It dawned on me that though our childhood shapes us in immense ways, we don’t talk about it much. Brunch and board meetings are full of what happened last weekend, but they never address those big moments or even small details from our past.

So, instead of the usual water cooler banter, dig a little deeper today. Here are some ideas of what to ask a friend or colleague: What topics were big no-nos in your household? Did you eat meals together? What was your first home like? Was there ever a scandal at your school or in your city? How did you learn how to drive or ride a bike? Did you go to a church or volunteer?


I know for me, if I hear someone’s story—their struggles and triumphs—I soften toward them. (Even if it’s Janet from HR who is always counting her Weight Watchers points as I eat a slice of cake). One such struggle might be poverty or, as a kid, feeling consistent financial instability. That can lead to hunger, safety issues and even voting issues. For example, 34 states have voter identification laws, making it hard for minorities and low-income citizens to vote. Name changes are reason why a person might not have a correct ID, and hunting down an original birth certificate or hiring lawyers to go to court can cost hundreds.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Stacey Abrams, Founder & Chair of Fair Fight, & Former Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate

You know the name of today’s Woman to Watch, and I’ll venture a guess that you’ll see it on a presidential ballot some day, too. Stacey Abrams made national news following a wild political race full of incompetence and possible deceit. To say the race was contentious is an understatement. But, let me give you some context.

Before Stacey moved to Georgia, she called Mississippi home. Her parents moved their family of eight to Atlanta, where they’d go on to become Methodist ministers. Stacey’s first venture into politics occurred as a teenager. She worked as a typist for a congressional campaign and then, at the young age of 17, became a speechwriter.

Stacey has, throughout her life, proven herself. She’s the kind of woman who walks the walk, you know? That position of speechwriter is significant, because she earned it. While typing a speech, Stacey made a few key edits, ones that didn’t go unnoticed by savvy grownups on Capitol Hill.

Like her parents, Stacey pursued education. With a Master’s degree in Public Affairs and a law degree, Stacey was bound for great things. In 2010, she became the first African American to lead the House of Representatives. And then came 2018, when Stacey fought for the spot of governor of Georgia.

The state consists of about a third of African American citizens, and more than half of the state is female. Stacey conducted a bold campaign that spoke to many. Following many highs, though, she lost by a narrow margin. The results caused a wave of disbelief and investigation into how—and if—votes were counted.

Stacey has since called voter suppression a national emergency, and it’s become a source of debate for every election, both local and national. But the fight for every vote to count isn’t over. Stacey started the nonprofit Fair Fight Action, which is suing the state of Georgia in the name of voter’s rights.

It’s 2019 and voting isn’t perfect in the United States. It’s convoluted and corrupt. But, as Stacey demonstrates, just because something is hard doesn’t mean you give up.


Stacey Abrams said:

"Not everyone's ambitions will be world domination or Carnegie Hall, but we should be driven beyond what we know and feel safe doing."

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