Stacey Abrams agrees that, from a certain point of view, she has reason to be pessimistic about the future of politics. When she ran for Georgia governor last year, she had to ignore people who told her an African-American woman couldn’t succeed, fight documented efforts to suppress votes and, ultimately, identify her opponent as the winner.
But in a conversation with Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos at Vanderbilt University on Tuesday, an ebullient Abrams insisted that young Americans need optimism about our democracy and, with that attitude, can evoke change. She joined him onstage before a capacity crowd at Langford Auditorium for a Chancellor’s Lecture Series appearance.
Chancellor Zeppos and keynote speaker, Stacey Abrams (Vanderbilt/Susan Urmy)Zeppos recalled the intense 10-day period between Election Day and Nov. 16, during which Abrams insisted all votes hadn’t been counted and unsuccessfully challenged the results. Less than two months later, she delivered a rousing Democratic response to the 2019 State of the Union address.
“Let’s talk about your resiliency, particularly after Nov. 16,” Zeppos said. “What gives you that asset? Tell us where you look to find your strength.”
Abrams described situations she saw personally on Election Day and heard about in the days and weeks after that convinced her to launch Fair Fight Action, an advocacy group to fight against election fraud and the systems that enable it.
“My parents taught me that my first responsibility is to others,” said Abrams, the minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017. “In that moment of despondency – and it was soul-crushing – I remembered that my first responsibility was to ensure that people didn’t feel irrelevant because all of our efforts didn’t work.”
The two discussed Abrams’ strategy of visiting all Georgia counties and speaking to every group who would hear her, even those unlikely to vote for …