I didn’t expect the thrill or tears of seeing it on the screen: For Governor – Stacey Abrams.
I pressed an X to cast my vote. So many people had offered their time, their peace, their families and their bodies for us to vote. And in the year 2018, these United States of America, where Black women have been denied a right to vote both as women and for our melanin, we finally had a Black woman on the ballot for a major party to lead a state as governor.
And not just any state: Georgia, one of the country’s places most steeped in Republican politics and its confederate heritage. A state that made history in 1912 when white people in Forsyth County drove out its 1,098 Black residents and stayed white-only until the 1980s, History.com reports.
That history of white supremacy has been on full display in the election as the Secretary of State and Republican nominee Brian Kemp has gone to great lengths to attack Abrams and suppress voters, while referring a race while also running.
And still she rises.
Abrams has played chess with her masterpiece strategy to serve. Before ever entering the historic race, she first set out to engage voters and started a non-partisan nonprofit, The New Georgia Project, which registered more than 250,000 voters.
And this year she has raised our eyebrows and hope as she set out to do what many would think was impossible: lead a southern state that has only had white, male governors.
I like many tried not to get my hopes too high when Abrams first announced – I still had memories of me in a pantsuit on the last election. I started asking Google if she really had a shot. I also became enthralled with this beautiful, unforgettable trailblazer who happened to be a robust Black woman. After she spoke at ESSENCE Festival, I got to meet her in person.
Of course she was Valedictorian of Avondale High School (shout out to Atlanta’s eastside)
Of course she went to Spelman and has a law degree from Yale.
Of course she opens her book Minority Leader: How to Lead from the Outside and Make Real Change with her interview to be a Rhodes Scholar.
Of course she also wrote romance novels in her free time under the name Selena Montgomery (I bought them all off Amazon, yes you can borrow)
And her believe in possibility became contagious. Like Oprah Winfrey, I was motivated for the first time to go knock on doors, and canvassed while home in Atlanta.
Two weeks before the election I participated in a phone bank to voters hosted by Higher Heights in Brooklyn. Three of my calls went to Black Georgia voters over 70. I was humbled to talk to those who had been alive during the Civil Rights movement. They all admitted their joy and surprise of a Black woman on the ballot – and had all voted early. When I asked Otis, 70, if he was planning to vote for Abrams he replied ,”You bet your Bvds.” Ask your grandma if you need that translated.
The excitement is electric for Abrams who offers a real plan to make Georgia a better state for residents. From President Barack Obama to Trevor Noah and Will Ferrell, she has caught our attention and restored our hope.
For brown girls from Georgia and beyond, she was a breath of fresh air we didn’t now we needed. As she receives historic votes in this election and we await the outcome, one thing is clear: Abrams only needed one vote – her own – to make history.
Charreah K. Jackson is a proud Georgia native, serves as ESSENCE Senior Editor, Lifestyle and is the author of Boss Bride: The Powerful Woman’s Playbook for Love & Success.