- BBC World News
Senator Kamala Harris will make history when she takes office as the first vice president of the United States in January, but she is not the only black woman who has stood out in the vibrant electoral cycle that the country is experiencing.
In her first speech after the Democratic election victory, the first black woman of Asian descent to become vice president-elect of the United States recognized the work of one group in particular: minority women.
Senator Harris exclaimed, “I’m thinking of the generations of women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, freedom and justice for all, including black women who are often ignored, but also often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy“.
On the outskirts of Atlanta, the Georgia state capital, members of the Hunt family cried as they listened to Harris’s speech Saturday night.
“Georgia is blue now [por el color del Partido Demócrata], something that changes the life of the state and the residents, especially the black residents who live here, “Kristin Hunt, 27, told the BBC reporter in Atlanta Chelsea Bailey.
“This is because of Stacey Abrams and many other black women who are on the ground and working with grassroots organizations to register voters and show why our vote matters.”
The name Stacey Abrams comes up every time people talk about what happened in Georgia, a state that for more than two decades did not elect a Democratic candidate and is now on the verge of opting for Joe Biden, in the absence of the last votes being counted.
Politicians and celebrities, from the actress Viola Davis, the basketball player LeBron James or the former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, have recognized the importance of their work to mobilize the voters.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, representative of the most progressive wing of the Democratic Party, also spoke: “It is an example of how crucial it is to reach out to communities. This is the traditional way of doing politics, which is so often sacrificed to negotiations in the corridors. “
A crucial community
Joe Biden’s path to the White House has depended on the fundamental support of the African-American community.
The BBC journalist recalls that it was black voters who gave Biden the victory in the South Carolina primary, which gave him crucial momentum to win the party’s nomination.
The Democrat won Pennsylvania, and ultimately the election, thanks in large part to the overwhelming support of black voters in cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
But when you ask residents of these cities who really helped Biden win the election, many will give credit to black women in their communities.
Women like Kruzshander Scott, an activist in Jacksonville, Florida, who told the BBC that she received threats and had to rely on additional security in recent weeks for her work to mobilize voters in her historically black community.
In Georgia, praise for Stacey Abrams is virtually universal among Democrats.
The name of Abrams, one of the rising stars of the Democratic Party, was considered as a possible candidate for the vice presidency of the United States, a position that ultimately fell to Kamala Harris.
A fervent anti-suppression activist, the 46-year-old lawyer and politician grew up in Mississippi before moving with her family to Georgia.
There she graduated from high school with the highest grades in her class and was invited to the state governor’s house for her excellent performance in school.
Upon arriving at the mansion, the security guard initially did not allow him entry.
He was finally able to enter, but Abrams says that this incident was the trigger that drove and marked his political career.
Politician and activist
He was a minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives and founded the New Georgia Project, a nonprofit organization that registered about 100,000 new voters.
From there he went on to found Fair Fight Action, a group designed to combat the suppression of the vote.
Since then, its Atlanta-based network has grown exponentially and includes a SuperPAC, a Political Action Committee whose goal is to raise funds for a specific candidate’s campaign.
This SuperPAC raised more than US $ 33 million this electoral cycle, money it used to support the campaigns of Democratic politicians, also from other states, particularly in the South.
Donors to their organizations include unions and figures like the former mayor of New York. Mike Bloomberg, who also aspired to the Democratic nomination for these elections.
“It really put the spotlight on Georgia, it convinced people that they needed to be convinced that there was space here, that there were voters and that this place could be competitive if people put the time, money and effort into it,” said the Democratic senator state Jen Jordan.
A defeat that served as an impetus
Paradoxically, this activism and commitment to the right to vote was reinforced by a painful defeat.
In 2018, Abrams made history by becoming the first African-American woman to aspire in charge of governor in United States.
His Republican rival was then Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
During his six years in that position, Kemp canceled voter registration registrations for more than one million residents of the state due to “inactivity” or error.
What for his office was a simple maintenance of the electoral registers, for others, like Abrams, it was a tactic of deprivation of the right to vote.
Kemp won the gubernatorial election by just 50,000 votes.
In his speech after Kemp’s victory (whose triumph he did not acknowledge), Abrams announced the launch of a new operation aimed at countering voter purges that, in his opinion, cost him the election.
“We are a powerful nation because it’s in our nature to fix what’s broken“he said that night.
Two years later, heading into the 2020 elections, Abrams and a network of organizations managed to register more than 800,000 voters in Georgia alone.
In January, those voters could be crucial again as Georgia’s two Senate seats will then be resolved in a runoff and determine which party controls the Upper House.
“[En 2018] Abrams could have backed down and said, ‘Wow, I lost,’ “Kristin Hunt said in conversation with BBC journalist Chelsea Bailey.
“But she turned the loss into a victory and was fully involved, working and trying to make things better for herself and for our community.”
For Abrams, the origin of all these achievements dates back to that incident at the governor’s mansion as a teenager.
“I don’t remember meeting the governor of Georgia,” Abrams said in a TED talk.
“I don’t recall meeting the other talented students from 180 school districts,” he continued.
“The only clear memory I have of that day is of a man standing in front of the most powerful place in Georgia, looking at me and telling me that I did not belong there.”
“And so I decided, some 20 strange years later, to be the person who would open the doors“.
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