In the previous Power of Words blog post I celebrated Dolores Ibarruri, a heroine from the past. This time I want to shine a light on a living legend: Stacey Abrams.
The African American political powerhouse
Kamala Harris made US history when she became the first black and Asian-American woman to be elected Vice-President in January. But did you know that another awesome African American woman played a significant role in helping her and Joe Biden win the White House? Stacey Abrams’ 2018 campaign for governor of Georgia turned more voters than any Democrat in the state’s history – including former President Barack Obama. She was the first African American woman to receive a major party’s nomination for governor but ultimately lost to Republican Secretary of State, Brian Kemp. Mismanagement of the election led Stacey to launch her Fair Fight campaign to ensure that everyone, especially the black community, registered to vote. A wave of support from black voters ultimately paved the way for Biden to enter the White House.
From defeat to victory
No one would have blamed Stacey for sitting back, licking her wounds and counting the cost of her failed election bid - for which she borrowed and donated $50,000 to her campaign. But this super-smart, witty and resilient woman turned the experience into a win by pushing forward and trying to do better for herself and her community. By getting out and encouraging people to register to vote, she changed the way the black community viewed their power and showed the nation that their voices matter.
A pivotal moment
Born in 1973 to a low-income family of six children, Stacey was raised in Mississippi but later moved to Georgia so her parents could study to become Methodist ministers. A high achiever, she became her high school’s valedictorian (the student who gives a closing speech at the graduation ceremony) and was invited to a reception at the governor’s mansion. After travelling by bus to the event with her parents, they were stopped at the gate and told to leave by a guard. The mistake was eventually corrected but the experience stuck with her. In her must-watch Ted Talk, she said: “I don’t remember meeting the Governor or my fellow valedictorians. All I remember that day was a man at a gate, telling me I don’t belong.” Twenty-odd years later, Stacey decided she wanted to be the person who got to open the gate for everyone. She’s now one of the most prominent African American female politicians in the US and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in February.
Never give up
I’m so inspired by Stacey’s resilience and how deeply she cares that every voice is heard. I love that she wants women to be aggressive about our ambitions, to follow our passions – our why – and not allow setbacks like finances, fear or fatigue to hold us back. She wants us to keep moving forward every single day. And that’s what I want for us too.
Some of you know that I have stood in numerous elections since 2017 - at local and national level - and I've lost every single one. But I will keep on going. Not because I'm a glutton for punishment, but because if other women see me demonstrating resilience they'll feel that they can do the same.
I stand because I believe we deserve a better world. And I'll keep trying. Look at that photo of me above. The only woman of 5 candidates. The only person under 50 (I was 35). The only person with school age children. I want to make sure we are represented!
Women have to take the power because no one is going to give it to us.
Watch Stacey’s brilliant Ted Talk here and fire up your passions!
Don't forget that I'm doing a FREE workshop in October - "Tell Your Story". Your story matters!!