Earlier this month, Georgia garnered national attention when the traditionally red state swung blue for the first time in 28 years. CNN recently reported that Joe Biden is projected to win Georgia, the first Democratic nominee to do so since Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential election.
Voting rights activist and former minority leader for the Georgia House of Representatives, Stacey Abrams, has received credit for this electoral success in Georgia.
Abrams spent years planning for this moment. Last year, Abrams and her former campaign manager, Lauren Groh-Wargo created a memo that outlined strategies on how to achieve Democratic victory in Georgia and at the national level for the 2020 presidential election.
"Stacey has tirelessly worked to get Joe Biden and the Democratic National Convention to pay attention to Georgia, spending years organizing and strategizing to make sure Georgians have their voices heard at the polls.We wouldn't be in the position we are in today without her leadership."
— Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project, according to CNN.
She was not alone in her work, a network of Black women voting rights activists and community organizers worked alongside Abrams to transform Georgia's electorate by increasing voter turnout and protecting voting rights in communities of color in Georgia and other states.
Winning Georgia was not one person's effort. It took hard work - particularly by women of color - for a decade to o… https://t.co/6bIajcyGPj— Stacey Abrams (@Stacey Abrams)1605214277.0
These women include Nse Utof, CEO of the New Georgia Project; Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda; Tamieka Atkins, executive director of ProGeorgia; Deborah Scott, the executive director of Georgia Stand-Up; and LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter.
Together, they are all part of a legacy of Black women organizers who have been at the forefront of voting rights activism, a history that is often disregarded.
In a recent tweet, vice president-elect Kamala Harris recognized Black women's critical role in this year's presidential election:
I want to speak directly to the Black women in our country. Thank you. You are too often overlooked, and yet are as… https://t.co/qfYWnaBYX5— Kamala Harris (@Kamala Harris)1604953921.0
Abrams initially founded the New Georgia Project which works to increase voter registration among people of color in Georgia. Between 2014 and 2016, the organization says it registered more than 200,000 voters. As of last year, the organization says it registered almost half a million people in Georgia across all 159 counties.
Abrams became the first Black woman to be a major party's nominee for governor in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election. She ran against then-Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, but lost in part due to voter restrictions caused by policies and purges executed by Kemp's office that disproportionately affect Black and minority voters.
Fueled by this loss, Abrams established Fair Fight Action to combat voter suppression in Georgia and nationally. The organization works to promote fair elections, increase voter participation, educate voters on elections and their rights, and advocate for election reforms.
"Georgia's 2018 elections shone a bright light on the issue with elections that were rife with mismanagement, irregularities, unbelievably long lines and more, exposing both recent and also decades-long actions and inactions by the state to thwart the right to vote."
— Fair Fight Action, "Our Story,"
Since 2018, Fair Fight says it has added more than 800,000 new voters to Georgia's electorate. The majority of these voters are young people and people of color, a growing demographic in Georgia who make up a large portion of the voting-age population but only 53 percent of registered voters.
Similar to Abrams, LaTosha Brown formed Black Voters Matter after an election loss due to voter suppression as well. In 1998, Brown lost a race for the State Board of Education in Alabama. After the election, she received a call from the state Democratic Party that 800 uncounted ballots were found locked in a sheriff's safe in Wilcox County where she had a lot of support.
Black Voters Matter works to increase voter registration and turnout, and advocates for policies to expand voting rights and access. The organization completes work in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee to ensure that Black communities are registered to vote and understand the power of their vote.
"Black Voters Matter's goal is to increase power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities. Effective voting allows a community to determine its own destiny."
— Black Voters Matter, "Our Purpose," https://blackvotersmatterfund.org/our-purpose/.
The work in Georgia is far from over, Abrams is continuing to fight for Democratic victory in Georgia for the January 5 Senate runoff elections. So far, Abrams and Fair Fight Action have raised $6 million to help Democratic candidates pull a win and take control of the Senate.
UPDATE: We have raised $6 million (!) so far to help jumpstart the Jan 5 Senate runoff elections. Help keep up the… https://t.co/OKqmNs6OGp— Stacey Abrams (@Stacey Abrams)1604930432.0
Biden's lead in Georgia would not have been possible without the efforts of Abrams and her coalition. They worked tirelessly to increase and protect the voting power of marginalized groups which helped flip Georgia to blue. It is important to acknowledge that Black women have always been and continue to be a mobilizing force in getting out the vote.