By Karen Stokes
Earlier this week, the Pabst Theater hosted “A Conversation with Stacey Abrams,” a nationwide tour featuring former Georgia lawmaker and author Stacey Abrams on Wednesday, Sept. 22.
The nationwide tour kicked off in Texas. During the tour, Abrams shares her insights on voting rights and politics.
The hour-long conversation was moderated by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes to a full house.
“I am a democrat, an American and a person who cares about the lives of others,” Abrams said, kicking off the talk.
It’s her care for the lives of the others that inspired her to start Fair Fight, an organization which advocates for equal access to the ballot box and fights against voter suppression.
There were a great many Georgians who had never registered to vote. Thanks to Abrams and other grassroots organizations across Georgia, more than 800,000 new voters registered to vote. These efforts helped turn Georgia from a red state to a blue one.
“Stacey Abrams has transformed the South forever,” Barnes said.
“We as a nation whenever we spend our time and resources trying to restrain participation, we have lost in terms of resources, vitality and squandered what we could be,” explained Abrams.
In 2018, Abrams ran for governor of Georgia against Republican Brian Kemp. Abrams lost narrowly by fewer than 55,000 votes.
“I like politics, I don’t love politics,” Abrams said. “I ran for office to solve problems.”
Abrams explained that she is a better politician because she works with politicians with varying viewpoints.
“I have to ask, am I doing what’s right for me or am I doing what’s right for us,” Abrams said. “Trump was a symptom, he seems like a disease, but what he’s symptomatic of is the ‘church of me.’ We can lose sight of why we’re here. We have to believe in something larger than ourselves.”
Abrams was the first African American female major-party gubernatorial nominee in the United States.
“I appreciate being able to get things done but being ‘the first’ isn’t fun,” she said. “I look at being first, you have to make sure that you’re not the last. I want to open the door, take off the hinges and make it into a tabletop.”
The question on how Abrams finds the time to be an author, entrepreneur and activist can be found by looking at her unique perspective on work/life balance.
“Work and life balance is a lie,” Abrams said. “I do work/life jenga. When you play jenga you have all the things you want to do and you stack them and you pull out the pieces that you need, the pieces you need to accomplish and you pray every time you pull out a piece that the whole thing doesn’t collapse.”
Abrams continues, “The reality is that it’s going to fall even if you do your job well, it can collapse. You don’t collapse with it. If a piece collapses, it can be a hardship or a public humiliation, but it’s not fatal.”
“We have to believe that our democracy is resilient but vulnerable,” Abrams said. “Government is people who contribute their resources to a common pool with the understanding that what you put in you may not get out.”