We are roughly two months away from the gubernatorial election of our lifetimes. For nearly two years, Stacey Abrams has been building a bold, progressive, people-powered campaign focused on uplifting the voices of those who have been disillusioned by both state and federal politics. At large, the citizens of Georgia have the unique opportunity to elect a measured and intelligent leader who will be ready to govern on day one, but there is a voter bloc that can show why all communities are worth investing in and how progressive coalitions can be built in the South. That group is Black Millennial Voters.
For months, the political pundits have asked repeatedly “how ready” Georgia is to elect a progressive Democratic woman as governor of Georgia: the truth is, our “readiness” has been building (maybe even simmering) for the past two decades. As criminal justice reform becomes more mainstream in political rhetoric (demonstrated by Governor Deal’s efforts in this arena); as the need for social justice reform becomes less and less avoidable (demonstrated by the attention being paid to recent examples of the mistreatment of POC by police, etc.); as the need for healthcare reform reaches a fever-pitch in rural America; and as economic parity bubbles to the surface of contemporary discussions of what it means to be an American: the time is ripe, the energy is high and we’re damn ready to elect a progressive female Democrat in the state of Georgia.
Georgia has the largest population of black millennials in the country. This is due to one major factor: slavery. The American South has historically claimed the largest share of black citizens as a result of former slaves remaining in the South, and putting down roots on the very lands they were brought here to work against their will. In addition to the group of African Americans who remained in the South in the wake of the Civil War, there were millions of black citizens who fled the Jim Crow South to cities like St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Detroit, who have (over the last 25 years or so) been returning to the South in a movement known as “The Reverse Migration.” This momentum for returning to the South was spurred by economic development in southern states, the (relative) end of segregation, the acquisition of black political power, and the opportunity for black entrance into the middle and upper class becoming a reality for millions.
With millennials fast becoming the nation’s largest voting bloc, weighing in at approximately 79 million in the United States, the responsibility to move the country forward is incumbent upon us, and the only way forward is through the vote.
In a state as racially polarized as Georgia when it comes to voting habits, it is especially important for black millennials to make their voices heard at the ballot box. 1 in 3 Georgians are black, making this state nearly three times as black as the nation at large. Black voters, and millennials especially, hold more power in the state of Georgia than they do in the majority of other states in our union.
I’m not proposing that we, as black millennials, support Stacey Abrams because she is black. I’m proposing that we harness the weight of our generation’s power to support a candidate who has risen from poverty, someone who puts family over her own financial wellbeing, someone who is so damn brilliant that while the rest of the politicians in the room are playing checkers: she’s playing chess. She also happens to be black.
While the other side continue to pass draconian laws that criminalize poverty and ignores the enormous wealth gap between white and non-white citizens, Stacey Abrams wants to eradicate poverty among all Georgians, whether you are a poor white farmer in Rabun County or a black woman working two jobs in Albany. Equity is equality.
We are at a crossroads as a country. We have a president who encourages anxiety and division, and a white male gubernatorial candidate who has used his office as Secretary of State to take real actions to keep black residents from voting. Black millennials can no longer remain on the sidelines. We have the power to stop this madness in its tracks. We have the power to say ENOUGH.
We need to vote for equity. We need to vote for equality. We need to vote for quality of life for all. We need to vote for Stacey Abrams, and we need to bring every millennial we know to the poll with us.
This is a call to action.