Stacey Abrams, 1973

  • Stacey-Abrams-WWP

Woman Category: Activism & Feminism and Politics & LeadersWoman Tags: African-American Women, Atlanta Women, Author, Lawyer, and Nobel Prize

  • HerStory

    A Politician, lawyer, voting rights activist, and bestselling author. The first African-American woman to be a major party’s nominee for governor, the first African-American to lead in the House of Representatives of Georgia, and the first African-American woman and first Georgian to deliver a Response to the State of the Union.

    Stacey Abrams was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi, and then Atlanta, Georgia. Growing up, her parents had struggled to stay above the poverty line, and more than once there could not pay the water and electricity bills. After graduating high school valedictorian, she studied interdisciplinary studies at Spelman College, earning her Bachelor of Arts with magna cum laude. During that time, she worked in the youth services department in Atlanta’s mayor’s office and later interned at the US Environmental Protection Agency. She continued her education at the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs, earning a Master of Public Affairs degree, followed by a Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School.
    At the age of 26, Abrams worked as a tax attorney at a law firm in Atlanta, and at 29, she was appointed a deputy city attorney for the City of Atlanta. In 2006, the 33 years old Abrams won the election as the 89th district representative at the Georgia House of Representatives. In her 11 years in office, she served on various committees, including Ethics, Appropriations, Ways & Means, and Judiciary Non-Civil. She promoted pro-choice and gun control policies and opposed strict voter ID laws.
    In 2010, she was elected as the House minority leader, becoming the first woman to lead a major party in the Georgia General Assembly and the first African-American to lead the Georgia House of Representatives. In this role, Abrams co-administrated the bipartisan transportation bill to save the HOPE scholarship program, stopping the largest tax increase in the state’s history. She also co-wrote a criminal-justice reform to reduce prison costs without increasing crime. During that time, she co-founded the financial services firm NOW Corp and Nourish, Inc – a beverage company.
    In 2017, Abrams resigned office to focus on her 2018 gubernatorial campaign. When she won the Democratic nomination, Abrams became the first African-American woman to be elected as a major party’s nominee for governor. She lost the general elections by only 55,000 votes.
    During her career, Abrams founded several organizations advocating for voting rights. In 2014 she established the New Georgia Project, in which she worked for registering voters who are unlikely to vote, especially people of color. In 2020, she founded Fair Fight to promote fair elections, ensuring that every citizen has a voice in the election system and encouraging voter participation by educating about voting rights. Abrams has been nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for leading the nonviolent campaign for exercising voting rights.
    Abrams is serving on many boards and committees, including the Center for American Progress, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the Gateway Center for the Homeless, the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, and Let America Vote. She is also a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

    “We can use our words to fight back against oppression and hate. But we must also channel our words into action”

    “We can use our words to fight back against oppression and hate. But we must also channel our words into action”


    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • Both of her parents are Methodist ministers.
    • She was raised to follow three principles – go to school, go to church, and take care of each other.
    • While in high school, she worked as a typist for a congressional campaign and made edits while typing.
    • Her employers were so impressed by her job that at 17, they made her a speechwriter.
    • As a freshman, she participated in a protest at the Georgia Capitol and participated in burning the state flag, which, at the time, had incorporated the Confederate battle flag.
    • She is a bestselling award-winning author, published eight romantic suspense novels under the pseudonym Selena Montgomery, articles, and two political books under her name.
    • She wrote her first novel during her third year at Yale Law School.
    • She is featured in All In The Fight For Democracy, a documentary about voter suppression in the US.
    • She was never married and refused to talk about her love life in her campaign. She said, “The background of being someone who has worked hard to serve the people of Georgia for the last 11 years – should be a deciding factor.”
  • More About Her Legacy

    * The John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award from the Kennedy Library and Harvard University's Institute of Politics (2012)
    * The Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award (2014)
    * The Distinguished Public Service Award from the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs (2019)
    * Inducted into the Academy of Women Achievers by the YWCA of Metro Atlanta

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  • 3 questions to ask yourself about everything you do | Stacey Abrams

    Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized talk recommendations and more.

    How you respond to setbacks is what defines your character, says Stacey Abrams, the first black woman in the history of the United States to be nominated by a major party for governor. In an electrifying talk, she shares the lessons she learned from her campaign for governor of Georgia -- and some advice on how to change the world. “Be aggressive about your ambition,” Abrams says.

    The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. You're welcome to link to or embed these videos, forward them to others and share these ideas with people you know.

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  • Abrams in February 2012. Photo credit - Kerri Battles for LBJ School @ Wikipedia

  • Citations and Additional References:
    Official website.
    Fair Fight website.