Last night all the Georgia gubernatorial candidates were invited to participate in a community forum at Atlanta Technical College. Of the nine candidates invited five confirmed their attendance yet only one candidate for the Governor of Georgia appeared before the packed audience – Representative Stacey Evans.
The event hosted by Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Zeta Phi Beta sorority, Omega Psi Phi fraternity, and the Greater Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill was moderated by news anchor Deidra Dukes and CBS 46 and WAOKs Rashad Richey. Richey posted a picture of the packed room on his Facebook page and said he will give detailed thoughts of the event on his daily show on WAOK – Real Talk with Rashad Richey. [Enter your Facebook/Marc Zuckerberg appearing before the Senate committee today joke HERE!]
The absence of the republican candidates is not surprising. Atlanta Technical College is inside of I-285 and the African American sororities, fraternities, and organizations that hosted this meeting are not the typical republican voters. Yet it is advised that they not confirm and then no-show – that is just tacky.
Which is why the absence of Stacey Abrams is pretty disheartening. Not only did she confirm her attendance, but it is likely that she was a front-runner with this predominantly African American crowd before the event started. It is as if Abrams is taking the African American vote for granted.
This is not the first event where the absence of Abrams was noted at a time when both candidates were expected to attend. Earlier this year at the Ebenezer Baptist Church annual Martin Luther King Jr. day celebration one democratic candidate appeared to honor Dr. King …. Evans. Abrams, running on the excitement of potentially being the first black governor, was not found at any MLK Day celebration anywhere in the state.
To highlight which of the two candidates cared enough to appear at the event, Evans put out a video on social media. Evans’ team stated the video was intended to make it clear Evans will not take the African American issues and votes for granted if elected Governor. The video was quickly spun by Abrams supporters and criticized as a tone-deaf misstep for Evans and her team.
Also this year, Abrams was a no-show for a Fulton County Democrats gala where Evans was the only candidate who took time to appear. Fulton County being one of the largest African American voting blocks in the state – it is beginning to seem that Abrams doesn’t think she needs to talk to black voters outside of Sunday morning sermons. It has been said when Abrams speaks on her church tour she energizes the room and turns churches of every denomination into a Baptist church celebration. Yet when it is time to talk policy and not rhetoric, when the candidates will have to stack their positions next to each other in open forums – one has been a no-show more times than not.
With the Atlanta Tech stage to herself, Evans was able to discuss how she spent much of her legislative career ensuring funding for technical schools like Atlanta Tech where the event was held. Evans was the lead sponsor for fully funding the HOPE Grant for technical students throughout the state. Atlanta Technical College’s student body is 95% African American. African Americans make up approximately 52% of enrollment in Georgia’s technical schools – making Evans’ work fundamental for African Americans in the state seeking the upward mobility education provides.
Hopefully Democrats will follow the lead of the organizers of this well attended event and attempt to educate themselves about the true positions of the candidates by hearing them out. The Staceys’ resumes and experience are too similar to rely on fanfare. Voters will need to listen closely to make a good decision. Shout out to these great historic organizations for bringing the politics to the people.
As a progressive, I must mention that either Stacey is far better than any of the Republican no-shows. Both women would be making HISTORY as the first woman governor of Georgia. Both women would be ready to lead day one. May, rather than November, is when Democrats have to do the hard work to choose between the two.