Hundreds of hard-working civic volunteers walked into Savannah Station – a historic train depot – to answer Stacey Abrams’ invitation to join her in a “Fair Fight Action” campaign to change Georgia’s electorate system.
Abrams delivered the battle cry on Thursday to her supporters to retain an inclusive voter poll in the political landscape during 2020. Abrams will decide next month if or when she will run for another elected position in Georgia.
She received 1,923, 685 votes in the gubernatorial race in the 2018, and her Savannah area supporters screamed and clapped. They expressed their beliefs that Abrams was Georgia’s best choice for governor.
“We won,” Abrams cheered.
Though Abrams came close to being Georgia’s first African-American female governor, she faced Brian Kemp, the 2018 secretary of state and Republican governor opponent. The federal court has said Kemp’s policies and the state law allowed him to reject thousands of voters opportunities to cast their votes. The state claimed thousand names on registration voter applications did not exactly match their state identification cards. Thousands other registrars were unable to vote in the 2018 contest because they did not vote regularly and Kemp’s administration erased them from the rolls. He received 1,978,408 votes and he became the governor.
Abrams said those facts reflect an unfair contest and the law must change. The state of Georgia doesn’t allow a remedy within these constraints, Abrams said during an interview with The Savannah Tribune.
She pledged to be a “persistent” political watch captain to ensure voters can cast their votes. “When you have a purpose, you feel the pain. What I can do is to be persistent.” She is now on the national stage and people are watching her next moves.
Asked how she recovered from the outcome of Georgia’s gubernatorial race in 2018, Abrams relied upon her mother’s sage advice. “You don’t get over it, but you get past it.”
Abrams’ found victories in the Southeast corner of Georgia canvassing for the Democratic ballot. Abrams felt a shift in the political landscape when more than 60,000 voters in the Savannah area voted for her. “I didn’t take it for granted,’’ she said.
“It was a phenomenal vote,” said Akeem McMichael, who describes himself as a young Savannah educator. “I didn’t feel it was a loss.”
LaToya Brannon, 41, needed to see her in Savannah and to be reminded about the hard work in Chatham County. Her spirited speech gave her a civic boost. “I was down. Now, I’m up. I’m encouraged by what is coming next.”
Some of her campaign supporters felt the pain in other ways.
Ann Smith-Wilson, 69, of Clyo, who says she felt threatened while she canvassed alone in Effingham County about 30 minutes from Savannah. A man driving a pickup truck trailed her as she walked door to door wearing an Abrams’ t-shirt. “I was scared.”
But the experience didn’t stop Smith-Wilson for supporting the Democrats. As for Abrams she said, “She’s real and very charismatic.”
If she stays on the course, she must reach the people who stayed home and didn’t vote, said Smith-Wilson, the Democratic secretary in Clyo, a majority Republican county. “Too many aren’t engaged and people don’t believe their votes will make differences.”
Two days before Abrams rallied in Savannah, she rose to the podium as one of the best Democratic orators. She responded to President Donald J. Trump’s State of the Union by addressing the country during a nationally televised speech at the request of the U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Abrams told her family’s story of working hard and giving to others. She articulated her challenge to the country that the state of Georgia will be a battleground for 2020, fighting for a fair playing field and ending voter suppression nationwide.
C.T. Harris, 70, of Richmond Hill, was pleased with Abrams comments. “I thought it was a right on, powerful. She talked about giving back…. I’m 100 percent for her. I think she’s a smart person,” said Harris, an advocate for the Affordable Care Act.
Her speeches inspired 15-year-old Sahdiyah Simpson, the freshman student president of South Effingham High School. “She is a motivational speaker. I see myself in her as an African American female. She wasn’t argumentative and the people responded to real people.”
Tina A. Brown, M.F.A., is an author, independent journalist and a part-time adult education instructor at Savannah Technical College.