Why Stacey Abrams got the First Standing Ovation in #UpfrontSummit History

This post is by Mark Suster from Both Sides of the Table - Medium

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Stacey Abrams Interviewed by Lisa Borders, CEO of TimesUp

This past week Stacey Abrams spoke at The Upfront Summit in a 25-minute talk followed by a breakout town hall discussion. You may know that later today she will deliver the response to The State of the Union speech by the president.

She was interviewed by Lisa Borders, CEO of TimesUp (who spoke separately, video will be released soon). At the end of their respective talks they received a standing ovation — the first time that’s happened in 7 years of doing this. Why? Well, you can watch the full video on the YouTube embed below or clicking here: but some highlights.

You likely know that Stacey Abrams recently ran for the governor of Georgia and in doing so was the first African American women to be the nominee of any major party in the history of the United States. She looked poised to win but her opponent was the sitting Secretary of State of Georgia so while he was running against her he was “the reference, the score keeper and the contestant.”

As a result of the inequities of the race she has launched Fair Fight Action, a bipartisan organization to make sure voter suppression of either party doesn’t occur in America. You can read about Fair Fight Action by clicking the link.

What were some of the positive results of Stacey’s run for governor?

Stacey was most proud that she brought voices to the table who had never been involved in politics. Specifically

  • Tripled the number of Latinos who voted in the state of Georgia.
  • Tripled the number of Asian-Pacific Islanders who voted
  • Increased youth participation rates by 139%
  • In 2014 1.1 million Democrats voted, in 2018 1.2 million African Americans
  • She received the highest percentage of the white vote in Georgia since Bill Clinton

“I didn’t get to be the governor, but we won. We changed the electorate”

What were some of the setbacks?

Stacey outlined several issues she believed helped tilt the election in favor of the existing Secretary of State who refused to recuse himself from the role of election oversight.

  • African Americans had a 40% higher wait time than anywhere else in the country including 4-hour wait times in some places.
  • More naturalized citizens who had their ballots rejected because of flaws in how absentee ballots are processed.
  • Widespread voter suppression as outlined below:

1. Registration access limiting who gets to register to vote. In Georgia — 53,000 ballot applications were held up, 90% people of color

2. Ballot access — Georgia shut down 214 out of 3,000 and separately people applied for absentee ballots that never show up.

3. Not counting the votes —She cited cases where absentee ballots were simply rejected

Who is Stacey Abrams?

I’m sure there’s a very long, well-researched answer the the things she and Lisa highlighted in their talk …

First, she is the author of, “Minority Leader,” which I look forward to reading.

She was the 2nd of 6 children born in Mississippi. Her parents claimed they were the “genteel poor” … they watched PBS and read books but didn’t always have enough money for running water or electricity.

She eloquently quoted her father,

“Having nothing is not an excuse for doing nothing.”

He believed you didn’t “serve” you “solved problems.” He taught Stacey that you didn’t get to complain about something unless you had answers of how you would fix it. Her father a young activist and was arrested at 15 in Mississippi for registering people to vote. Her mom was a librarian and her dad shipyard worker. They were active but not particularly good at making money. Stacey wanted to be both.

She studied at Yale Law School and University of Texas. She became a tax attorney but also wrote romance novels. There are great stories in the video about how & why she did both.

Why Stacey Abrams got the First Standing Ovation in #UpfrontSummit History was originally published in Both Sides of the Table on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.