In a tight race to be Georgia’s next governor, an apparent Republican attempt to shame Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams for participating in the burning of Georgia’s racist flag back in college has backfired. Abrams, who would become the nation’s first Black woman governor if elected, defended her actions. An image from a 1992 Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper clip of the demonstration suddenly surfaced on social media on Monday night — the eve of Abrams’ first debate against her GOP rival Brian Kemp — the New York Times reported. The picture shows Abrams, during the end of her freshman year at Spelman College, burning the flag alongside two other African-American demonstrators. Abrams’ campaign confirmed to the Times that she indeed participated in the protest against the Confederate symbol on the flag. “During Stacey Abrams’ college years, Georgia was at a crossroads, struggling with how to overcome racially divisive issues, including symbols of the Confederacy, the sharpest of which was the inclusion of the Confederate emblem in the Georgia state flag,” a statement from the campaign read. “This conversation was sweeping across Georgia as numerous organizations, prominent leaders, and students engaged in the ultimately successful effort to change the flag.” Georgia changed its state flag in order to emblazon it with the Confederate flag after Brown v. Board in order to send a message to its black citizens about what white leadership felt about their rights. Black Atlanta mayors refused to fly it. The demonstration happened when then-governor Zell Miller made his first unsuccessful bid to remove the controversial Confederate symbol from the state flag, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Georgia’s last Democratic governor, Roy Barnes, successfully authorized a redesign of the flag in 2001—a move that contributed to his political defeat in 2002. Abrams’ opposition to Confederate symbols will likely become a debate topic on Tuesday night. Kemp has vowed to protect Confederate monuments.
By Hazel Trice Edney (TriceEdneyWire.com)– The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has filed suit against Georgia Secretary of State and Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp over the state’s “discriminatory and unlawful ‘exact match’ voter suppression scheme.” The suit alleges that Georgia’s “‘no match, no vote’ voter registration scheme violates the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act, and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution,” according to a statement from the organization. The alleged scheme appears to intentionally deter Black voters who intend to vote for Kemp’s opponent, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacie Abrams, who would become the nation’s first Black woman governor. Meanwhile, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond has written a scathing letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions strongly objecting to what appears to be his “abdication of his complete abdication of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) voting rights oversight responsibilities” in the Georgia controversy. And NAACP President Derrick Johnson has announced that the historic civil rights organization is also monitoring the situation in Georgia, which he describes as “a stain on our system of democracy when less than a month before an election which could produce the first African-American female governor in our nation’s history, we are seeing this type of voter suppression scheme attempted by a state official whose candidacy for the governorship produces an irremediable conflict of interest.” The war for votes in the Nov. 6 election is on. And civil rights leaders across the country are fighting vigorously for each one. Despite the contention for political control of the U. S. House of Representatives, the historic gubernatorial election in Georgia is the ground zero of sorts as it tests fair elections after the 2013 Shelby v. Holder U. S. Supreme Court decision that outlawed the Section 5 “Pre-clearance Clause”, which once mandated Georgia and a list of other states to seek permission from the Justice Department before changing voting laws. “Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has been a driving force behind multiple voter suppression efforts throughout the years in Georgia,” says Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee. “If there is one person in Georgia who knows that the ‘Exact Match’ scheme has a discriminatory impact on minority voters, it’s Brian Kemp because we successfully sued him over a mirror policy in 2016.” In a nutshell, Kemp’s “exact match” policy has placed more than 53,000 voter registration applications on “pending” status a month before the midterm election. They are on hold because of simple typos or for not exactly matching the registrants’ official identification for any reason. Though Kemp contends the 53,000 can still vote, lawyers contend that just the implication that the vote may not count or that they may be question at the polls could cause Black voters to become skittish and stay at home. There exists a stark parallel between the voter suppression schemes levied by states around the country prior to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the insidious tactics used by Secretary Kemp to capitalize on the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County to gut the Act and its protections for African Americans and other people of color that came with it. No less than 70 percent of people impacted by ‘Exact Match’ are African-American. We will continue fighting voter suppression to ensure a level playing field for voters across Georgia this election cycle.” In his letter to Attorney General Sessions, CBC Chairman Richmond says Georgia is just a tip of the iceberg for voter suppression antics going on around the country. “The current state of election integrity across the nation is in a tenuous position thanks to your intentionally lax approach to enforcement of voting rights laws. Bad actors in governments in various states have been deliberately compromising fair elections with impunity,” Richmond wrote. The NAACP’s Johnson says the organization will continue to monitor Georgia closely after a major win against voter suppression in the state just two months ago. In August the NAACP Georgia State Conference successfully fought against the closing of 7 of 9 polls in the nearly all Black area of Randolph County. The Associated Press has reported that Kemp has “cancelled over 1.4 million voter registrations since 2012. Nearly 670,000 registrations were cancelled in 2017 alone.”