Apr 3, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Stacy Abrams calls Georgia’s GOP governor an “architect of voter suppression”

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams said Wednesday that she had not conceded to Gov. Brian Kemp, who she also called an "architect of voter suppression," at civil rights leader Al Sharpton's 2019 National Action Network convention.

Details: Abrams honed in on a variety of topics from mass incarceration to the 2020 census.

What she's saying:

  • "Voter suppression is as old as America. It is baked into our DNA, but so is our ability to fight back."
  • "If your children are in overcrowded schools it's because they didn’t count your children," Abrams said in reference to the importance of the 2020 census.
  • Abrams also linked the 2020 Census to voter suppression, economic deprivation and gerrymandering
  • "[Abram's grandmother] did not live to see me take an oath of office, but I don’t know which oath is coming up next."

Abrams' speech:

"We transformed the electorate because we let everyone know that they were seen and they were heard and they showed up. But I’m [going] to tell y’all a secret. I am not the governor of Georgia. Remember I told you about my opponent. You, see not only was he Secretary of State but he was also an architect of voter suppression. Because we can work as hard as we want, we can fight right, but if you are fighting against a system designed to oppress you, sometimes you’ve got to fight a little bit longer than you planned. So on November 6, I said at the podium we were not going to declare anything till every vote was counted. And on November 16, I decided to acknowledge the states of the election but I refused to concede. Because here’s the thing, concession means to say something is right and true and proper. I am a good lawyer, and I understand that the law of the land said that Brian Kemp became the governor that day. And I acknowledge that, but you can’t trick me into saying it was right. And you can’t shame me into saying what happened should’ve happened because in the state of Georgia black people faced hours long lines of up to four hours waiting to cast their ballots. 53,000 people were held hostage by a system that a federal judge said was racially discriminatory. 53,000 people. 90% of whom were people of color and 70% of whom were black. I live in a state where 1.5 million people got purged including 600,000 right before my opponent threw his name into the ring. They closed 214 polling places. They rejected absentee ballots at an unheard of rate. They said if your signature didn’t match then your vote doesn’t count. Well my signature doesn’t match from Kroger to CVS, but my citizenship doesn’t change. And so in response to what I believe was a stolen election, and I’m not saying they stole it from me. They stole it from the voters of Georgia. I cannot prove empirically that I would’ve won, but we will never know. And so what I demanded on November 16 was a fair fight because you see voter suppression is as old as America. It is baked into our DNA, but so is our ability to fight back. That is also who we are. We are a nation constructed of people who understand our rights have to be fought for every generation and sometimes when we fight we think we won. We just got a pause, and we’ve got to come back efforts redoubled because those that who want us to be silenced won’t stop till we shut so we have to shout louder and longer and stronger than they’ve ever expected. But we can do that when we have a fair fight so on November 16 I launched Fair Fight Action. Here’s the thing, voter suppression didn’t just happen in Georgia. We know in Indiana they moved a polling place to the outskirts of town because nobody had a car. We know in Texas they told students at Prairie Valley and A&M that they couldn’t vote on their campus early vote like all the other folks. And we know when we fight we win because Prairie got their polling places and Indiana got some polling places, but they’re not going to stop. They won’t stop so we can’t stop. We have to fight harder this year than we ever have before because they see us coming. We know we are on our way and so do they. They will not stop so we cannot stop but we have to understand that we are in this together. I may have run to be the governor of Georgia but I am one of you. I am an American, and my citizenship is just as real as anyone else’s. My humanity is just as strong. And my commitment to our democracy will not be eroded by a stolen election because I believe in our country. You see I am the granddaughter of a veteran. I am the daughter of civil rights fighters. A father who went to jail at the age of 16 for registering people to vote in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. My mom was doing the same work she was just smart enough not to get caught. I am the sister of doctors and lawyers and judges and a young man who struggles with drug addiction and incarceration. And if I believe we can solve our problems, I cannot rest until they are solved. So I am asking you to join me in two efforts. First is we have to demand a fair fight in the United States beginning in the state of Georgia Not only did I launch Fair Fight Action, I’ve also launched Fair Count. Because in 2010, not only did they not count all of Georgia. In fact they undercounted so severely that they were able to draw a supermajority in the Senate and they tried it in the House. We stopped it, but we can stop it from happening if we get counted in the census. And let’s be clear about this. The census, it’s true if they don’t count you, you don’t count. If your children are in overcrowded schools, its because they didn’t count your children. If your roads aren’t paved or they don’t pick up your trash, its because they don’t know you live there or they don’t have to care. If you don’t get the resources you need, it’s because they haven’t paid attention. We aren’t talking about a little bit of money. We are talking about $800 billion a year. I want my money. You should want your money. You should want your taxes dollar spent in your communities, and that requires the census. So we have launched Fair Count because there will be a Fair Count in the state of Georgia, so help me God. See, y’all aren’t clapping for the right things. We gotta get excited about the census because they are working hard to stop us. Because when we yolk together, voter suppression and the census, that’s the recipe for victory. Because when we are registered and we should up and we get the resources we need, that is when violence end in our communities. That’s when women can control their bodies because we can elect people who see us as full human. That’s when mass incarceration ends, and that’s when opportunity begins but we have to be in control of our own destiny. So Reverend Al Sharpton, thank you for this opportunity to address this convening, but I will say this the road is long and we are going to get tired a lot. I’m 45 years old and I thought I was doing something but I just buried my grandmother, who was 92. She lived thought the days when she couldn’t cast a vote. She lived to see her daughter to become the first African American woman nominated for governor. She did not live to see me take an oath of office. Now, I don’t know oath is coming up next but I know that my grandmother Bill and my grandfather Jim are looking down on me. I know my parents Reverend Robert and Reverend Carolyn Abrams are looking out for me. And I know that if we stand together as a nation united willing to take action, networking our opportunities and our dreams and our ambitions, that we will transform this nation and they will never ever ever make us stop. Thank you so much."

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