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Stacey Abrams Inspires Spelman Students in a Conversation About Leadership and Perseverance Share a Spelman College Press Release


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To kick off Black History Month, Spelman College welcomed politician, lawyer and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, C’95, back to campus for an engaging conversation on leadership and failure, the importance of voting and the future of democracy. 

Following a warm welcome, Dr. Cynthia Spence, C’78, associate professor of sociology and director of the Spelman Social Justice Fellows program, introduced the two Spelman students who would lead the conversation with Abrams: Social Justice Fellows Gabrielle Gregory, C’2026, and Mozn Shora, C’2025. Gregory and Shora both serve as co-presidents of the Spelman chapter of Fair Fight U, a collegiate extension of Fair Fight Action, the organization founded in 2018 by Stacey Abrams to address voter suppression in Georgia and across the United States. 

Abrams began with an inspiring recount of her journey, from her first tour of Spelman College to having her name grace the 2018 and 2022 ballots for Georgia governor. She urged students to "learn their lessons and not their losses," emphasizing that it’s more important to try and fail than to have never tried at all.
 
Gregory and Mora engaged Abrams in a Q&A that spoke to the historical importance of voting in the Black community and the geopolitical landscape impacting students across the globe. When Gregory asked “As a Black woman, what do you see as our most pressing concern for our future as leaders,” Abrams responded by expressing her fear for the state of democracy in the U.S. 

“When I was sitting in your seats, my fight was to get people to use the right to vote, it was not to protect the right to vote,” said Abrams, expressing frustration at the erosion of voting rights that has taken place since she was a Spelman student. “As a Black woman, what worries me is our loss of democracy, our loss of bodily autonomy.”
 
Students demonstrated their intellectual prowess and interest in the state of democracy by posing questions that engaged Abrams in a variety of topics, including the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and Abrams’ experience with systemic censorship within academia.
 
In response, Abrams gave reflective answers that spoke to the complexity of the respective situations. “I made sure I understood why the administration made the decisions it made,” said Abrams, addressing her experience with facing pushback from the Spelman administration when she was a student. “Sometimes, we see the consequences, but we don’t know what led to it. Once you know what it is, it’s a lot easier to dismantle systems you understand than to dismantle results you don’t.”

Abrams’ words of wisdom seemed to resonate with many of the students gathered in Sisters Chapel, who would often erupt into applause in response to her pieces of advice. 

“Her words undoubtedly inspired our students to exercise their civic duty and vote to actively shape our political landscape and fight for a better tomorrow, especially as Black people,” said Shora. 

“I sincerely hope that our discussion has fostered a sense of empowerment across Spelman’s campus and beyond Spelman’s gates, encouraging and reminding Black students that the future is in our hands – despite what the current climate suggests,” said Gregory.
 
Abrams continuously urged the students to use their power and vote for change, leaving students with much to ponder as the 2024 election approaches this November. She emphasized the power that students have and reminded them that it’s never too late to wield it.
 
“I led organizations and I spoke at the March on Washington, and all of those things began when I was sitting where you are,” said Abrams. “I’m here to tell you how extraordinary you already are and how remarkable you will become, because I’ve been where you are. I’ve seen where you are going, and I can’t wait for you to get there.”

To view video from Abrams' conversation, click here

 

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