“I’m going to tell you something that some folks think I don’t recognize. I know I am not the governor of Georgia,” said Stacey Abrams.
Abrams, the former Georgia House Minority Leader, lost the governorship in a close race against now-Gov. Brian Kemp back in 2018. It was a race she did not concede.
She spoke at the 77th annual NAACP Georgia State Convention at the Atlanta Marriott Northwest at the Galleria in Cumberland, where the theme for this year’s convention is “When we fight, we win.”
Abrams told the crowd that while she is not living in the governor’s mansion, she counts the 2018 election as a big victory for her fellow Georgia Democrats.
She said her campaign helped turn out more voters than any other race in Georgia history, greatly increasing the participation rates of groups including young voters, Latinos and Asian Pacific Islanders, putting her progressive ideals in a strong position moving forward.
“I was running for an office that had the power to change lives, so my eyes were set on that big goal at the top, but luckily, I’ve been raised by good folks,” she said. “Many of those who are in this room will understand that sometimes success is just changing one mind, changing one idea, convincing people to believe that their voices are relevant, that maybe if they speak up, they will be heard.”
Abrams did not call out Kemp by name, but made her feelings about him clear.
“We transformed the conversation in the state of Georgia, we changed the narrative, but the thing of it is, sometimes victory has enemies, and I happened to be running against a cartoon villain,” she said.
Abrams accused Kemp of using his power as Secretary of State to keep people away from the ballot box.
“And so, on Nov. 16, I acknowledged the legal sufficiency of the Secretary of State’s victory,” she said. “But I also acknowledge this, that I will never concede, because the laws may have said he could do it, but that doesn’t mean the law was right. And that is why I’m here today, because you all understand that just because it’s written down as law doesn’t make it right.”
Since the election, Abrams has launched programs titled Fair Fight and Fair Count, which she says are dedicated to making sure all eligible voters are counted. She called on the NAACP members to help her in that task.
“This is an organization that has fought lynching, fought Jim Crow, fought against the evils that come with segregation and incarceration and the removal of our people and our dignity,” she said. “This organization is built on the premise that it may take a few years, may take a century, but we know that when we fight together, when we fight for each other, when we fight, we will win.”
Abram’s comments drew cheers from the convention crowd, which included members from across the state.
This weekend’s convention marked the third time Cobb has hosted the convention, said Jeriene Grimes, the president of the Cobb NAACP.
“It has been a phenomenal convention, we’ve had about 200-plus delegates between our youth and our adult branches, so Georgia is well-represented at this convention in Cobb County,” she said.
Grimes also said she was moved by Abrams’ words.
“She’s never a disappointment,” Grimes said. “She speaks truth to power. She’s phenomenal.”