Stacey Yvonne Abrams was born in Madison, Wisconsin on December 9, 1973. She earned a BA in Political Science/Economics/Sociology from Spelman College in 1995, an MPA in Public Policy from the University of Texas in 1998, and a JD from Yale Law School in 1999.
After completing her formal education, Abrams worked as a Special Counsel for the Atlanta-based law firm of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan from 1999-2003. She then served as a Deputy City Attorney for the City of Atlanta Law Department from 2003-06; Chief Executive Officer of Sage Works, a legal consulting firm, from 2003-present; Chief Operating Officer of Insomnia Group, an investment and consulting firm, from 2007-10; Chief Operations Officer of Nourish, a beverage company with a focus on infants and toddlers, from 2007-present; and co-owner/Senior Vice President of the NOW Account Network Corporation, a financial services firm, from 2010-present.
Abrams launched a political career as a Democrat in 2006 when she was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, where she held a seat from January 2007 until August 2017.
In 2013, Abrams co-founded the New Georgia Project (NGP), a partisan voter-registration organization designed to register hundreds of thousands of new Democrat voters across the state. From 2017 through February 21, 2020, Raphael Warnock served as NGP’s Chief Executive Officer.
In 2018, Abrams ran against Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp in Georgia’s gubernatorial race. Her campaign was endorsed and supported by Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, George Soros, Democracy for America, MoveOn Political Action, the Working Families Party, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood, Emily’s List, and Our Revolution. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and California Senator Kamala Harris went to Georgia to campaign for her.
In October 2018, Abrams predicted that the upcoming midterm elections would see a “blue wave” of Democrat victories sweep across the country, and that “undocumented” aliens would be key contributors to it. “The thing of it is,” said Abrams, “the blue wave is African American. It’s white, it’s Latino, it’s Asian-Pacific Islander, it is disabled, it is differently-abled, it is LGBTQ, it is law enforcement, it is veterans. It is made up of those who’ve been told that they are not worthy of being here. It is comprised of those who are documented and undocumented.”
In October 2018, Abrams derided Brian Kemp’s use of an “exact match” system that had placed more than 50,000 Georgia voter registrations on hold because of discrepancies between different sets of government records, or because they were flagged as registrations of potential non-citizens. She charged that “the exact match system has a disproportionate effect on people of color and women,” causing many of them to be “disenfranchised.”
At an October 2018 town hall, Abrams said she was “sick and tired of hearing about the free market being the solution” to problems in the health care system, adding: “I’ve never seen the free market write a prescription in rural Georgia. I’ve never seen the free market show up to give someone Metformin, so they can have a little control over their diabetes before it turns into an amputation of their foot. I’ve never seen the free market say ‘I’m going to replace that stent in your heart next door and not make you go 200 miles to get it done.’ The problem with the free market is the free market needs to make a profit, and there is no profit in doing the right thing.”
A key focus of Abrams’ 2018 campaign was the Second Amendment and gun-ownership rights.
In early November 2018, media mogul Oprah Winfrey traveled to Georgia to campaign for Abrams, holding two town-hall events with her in DeKalb County and Cobb County, and then going door-to-door with her to urge residents to support Abrams at the ballot box. “I am honored to have Oprah join me for uplifting and honest conversations with voters about the clear choice before us in this election and the boundless potential of Georgians,” said Abrams. Winfrey, for her part, said at one campaign event: “I’m here today because of the men and because of the women who were lynched, who were humiliated, who were discriminated against, who were suppressed, who were repressed and oppressed. I refuse to let their sacrifices be in vain.”
Abrams lost the November 2018 gubernatorial election by approximately 50,000 votes, but she disputed the result. In her speech announcing the end of her campaign, she also announced the creation of Fair Fight Georgia, a voting-rights nonprofit organization that sued the Georgia Secretary of State and the Georgia State Election Board in federal court for “the gross mismanagement of this election.” On November 11, Abrams also filed a federal lawsuit that aimed to: (a) legally force a runoff election against Kemp; (b) block two counties from rejecting provisional and absentee ballots that contained errors; (c) require county officials to accept provisional ballots from voters who had relocated but had not updated their voter registrations to reflect their new addresses; and (d) extend the deadline by which the state of Georgia was required to certify the election results.
On November 18, 2018 on CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper asked Abrams if she believed that Brian Kemp was the “legitimate” Governor-elect of Georgia. She replied evasively: “The law, as it stands, says that he received an adequate number of votes to become the governor of Georgia, and I acknowledge the law as it stands. I am a lawyer by training and I have taken the Constitutional oath to uphold the law.” When Tapper reiterated his question, Abrams answered: “He is the person who won the adequate number of votes to become the governor.” At that point, Tapper said: “You’re not using the word legitimate. Is he the legitimate governor governor-elect of Georgia?” Abrams responded: “He is the legal governor of Georgia. Words have meaning. I spent my lifetime not only as an attorney but as a writer and I’m careful of the words I choose. When he takes the oath of office he will be the legal governor of the state of Georgia, the legal victor. What you are looking to me to say is that there was no compromise of our democracy and there should be some political compromise in the language I use and that’s not right. What’s not right is saying that something was done properly when it was not.”
At an April 2019 convention at Al Sharpton’s Nation Action Network, Abrams asserted that the 2018 gubernatorial election had been “stolen” by her Republican opponent Brian Kemp. “We won,” she said. “… I’m not saying they stole it from me — they stole it from the voters of Georgia.”
In a January 2019 interview on PBS’s Firing Line, host Margaret Hoover asked Abrams: “What is your view about some municipalities, like San Francisco, who have decided that it’s okay for some non-citizens to vote in local elections?” Abrams replied: “I think … the granularity of what cities decide is so specific, as to, I think, allow for people to be participants in the process without it somehow undermining our larger democratic ethic that says that you should be a citizen to be a part of the conversation.” Hoover then asked: “So, in some cases, you would be supportive of non-citizens voting?” Abrams answered: “I wouldn’t be — I wouldn’t oppose it.”
In April 2019, Abrams said that she saw a “credible [political] path” to the implementation of reparations for African Americans and Native Americans, “the groups that by law had been stripped of their autonomy and their participation in our society.” “I think that reparations make sense,” she added. “[W]e have to acknowledge that in the United States of America it wasn’t simply that we didn’t like a certain group, we’ve built — no. Not we, they. The government built systems designed to exclude and to diminish the capacity of communities to participate in their own economic survival.”
During a May 2019 Ideas Conference at the Center for American Progress, Abrams criticized Democrat presidential hopeful and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, for having cited identity politics as a chief cause of social conflict. Said Abrams: “The notion of identity politics has been peddled for the past 10 years and it’s been used as a dog whistle to say we shouldn’t pay too much attention to the voices coming into progress. I would argue that identity politics is exactly who we are and exactly how we won. When I hear Democratic candidates, progressive candidates, American candidates decrying the identity of their voters, I’m deeply worried for our democracy.”
In May 2019, Abrams told Scholastic News that the legal voting age should be lowered to 16 for school board elections, and perhaps for federal elections as well: “I think we should test it out for local elections. I do believe we need to investigate lowering the voting age for federal elections, but I’m not convinced yet. I remember being 16. I remember how involved and engaged I was. While there certainly is a difference between being 16 and 18, I don’t know that the difference is wide enough to say that you should not be able to participate in federal elections, so I’m willing to be convinced.”
In an August 2019 appearance on ABC’s This Week, Abrams disparaged President Donald Trump as a racist: “I have said many times he is racist. More importantly, he does not value Americans and he does not value humanity. That should be more disturbing to everyone than the title we subscribe [sic] to him.”
In August 2019, MSNBC host Chris Hayes asked Abrams if she was in favor of doing away with the Electoral College. She responded, “Absolutely. The Electoral College was not designed to make certain that people in small states weren’t subject to the tyranny of urban areas. That wasn’t the conversation at the time. It was because those in power did not believe that working people had the intellectual capacity to directly elect the leader of the free world. We have long passed that time, and it’s time for direct election and popular vote.”
During an April 1, 2020 appearance on MSNBC Live, Abrams said that in light of the health risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic, all voters should be permitted and encouraged to vote by mail in the 2020 presidential election: “Vote by mail is the safest way to vote. And right now, I would say almost every state has the capacity to vote by mail. The challenge is that in a lot of states you have to have an excuse.” In an April 21 interview, Abrams told MSNBC’s Morning Joe that President Donald Trump’s concern about possible fraud connected to mail-in voting was unfounded: “Voter fraud is, by and large, a myth.” In a podcast interview two days later with CNN analyst David Axelrod,” Abrams, asserting that President Trump was “illegitimate” and “should not hold office,” accused Mr. Trump of being “afraid” of vote-by-mail “despite the fact that there is no evidence of fraud” associated with it. In yet another interview, Abrams said that “voter fraud is nearly mythological,” adding that “you are more likely to be struck by lightning than for there to be an incident of voting fraud.”
Abrams also advocated the use of ballot harvesting, a process that involves the gathering and submitting of completed absentee or mail-in voter ballots by third-party individuals, as opposed to requiring voters themselves to submit their ballots directly to official collection sites.
In an April 2020 appearance on ABC’s The View, Abrams said that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden should select an African-American woman as his running mate “because women of color, particularly black women, are the strongest part of the Democratic Party, the most loyal.”
In June 2020, Abrams was a guest speaker at Oprah Winfrey’s two-night town hall on racism in America, an event that aired on Winfrey’s cable channel OWN, as well as on the Discovery Channel, TLC, HGTV, and the Science Channel. Other featured speakers included filmmaker Ava DuVernay, New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones (who founded “The 1619 Project”), Selma actor David Oyelowo, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, New York Times columnist Charles Blow, and racism scholar Ibram X. Kendi.
In June 2020, Abrams was deeply angered by a police shooting in Atlanta that killed Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man who had a long history of criminal violence dating back 13 years. Shortly after 10:40 PM on June 12, Atlanta officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan responded to a complaint stating that Brooks was asleep in a car which was blocking a Wendy’s restaurant drive-through lane. They administered a sobriety test to Brooks and found him to have an alcohol level higher than the legal limit. When the officers tried to arrest him, Brooks instigated a violent fight during which he wrestled Brosnan’s taser away from him, fought his way free, punched Rolfe, and then began to flee on foot. Officer Rolfe at that moment fired his taser at Brooks, but it failed to bring him down. Rolfe then proceeded to chase Brooks, who at one point turned and fired the stolen taser in the officer’s general direction. Rolfe drew his handgun and shot Brooks twice in the back as the suspect turned to run. (Click here for video of the altercation.) Brooks was then rushed to a nearby hospital, where he died after undergoing surgery.
After the incident, Abrams said:
In June 2020 as well, Abrams denounced Republican Senator Tom Cotton’s recent assertion that slavery was, “the Founding Fathers said,… the necessary evil upon which the union was built.” Cotton’s point was that the Southern states would never have agreed to join the union if the institution of slavery were to have been abolished outright. But Abrams said: “There is no such thing as a necessary evil. Evil is evil, and slavery is one of the ultimate evils. If Tom Cotton is sincere in his desire to understand history then he should be celebrating the 1619 Project. He should be celebrating The Voting Rights Act renewal. He should be celebrating Black Lives Matter because the continuity of evil in our country has led us to this moment. We can only extinguish evil by acknowledging that it exists and doing everything in our power to defeat it, not to celebrate it, not to excuse it, and certainly not to use it as a polemic way to justify the racism that runs through the party that is lifting up Tom Cotton and his language as something that’s legitimate as part of the argument about what our children should learn about this country.”
In the fall of 2020, Abrams led an effort to help two Democrats — Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff — win their upcoming runoff elections for U.S. Senate seats in Georgia. Toward that end, Abrams collaborated with a group of Hollywood entertainers to organize “Rock the Runoff,” a “get-out-the-vote” online concert/fundraiser. Among the performers who participated were John Legend, Common, Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab For Cutie), Earthgang, and the Indigo Girls. During the concert, Abrams told viewers that her goal was to use the runoff elections to “change America.”
In a March 14, 2021 interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Abrams characterized Republican efforts to ensure voter integrity in political elections as tactics rooted in racism. Said Tapper: “So Republican state lawmakers in your home state, Georgia, have introduced almost two dozen bills to make it more difficult to vote. They are going to end no-excuse mail-in voting, which has been there since 2005. They will reduce voting on Sundays, ask for stricter ID requirements, take away drop boxes. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in D.C. — he called this effort by Georgia Republicans ‘racist plain and simple.’ Do you agree, and is there any way for Democrats to stop these efforts?”
Abrams replied: “Well, first of all, I do absolutely agree that it’s racist. It is a redux of Jim Crow, in a suit and tie. We know the only thing that precipitated these charges — it’s not that there was a question of security — in fact, the secretary of state and the governor went to great pains to ensure America that Georgia elections were secure. So the only connection that we can find is that more people of color voted, and it changed the outcome of elections in a direction that Republicans do not like.” According to Abrams, Republicans were “using this false predicate of fraud” in order to promote reforms that would effectively “eliminate access to voting” for nonwhites.