The candidates in the 2018 midterm elections were among the most diverse set to run in the history of the United States and included a number of African-American candidates in local, state, and national elections. Among those candidates was Stacey Abrams, who ran to become the nation’s first African-American female governor. Despite a narrow defeat in the Georgia race, Abrams and her campaign launched a new national conversation about the importance of voting rights by shining a light on voter suppression efforts in Georgia. As a result, there is a new focus on ending what Abrams called “systematic disenfranchisement” of African-American voters and other voters of color in America. Abrams also delivered the Democratic response to the president’s 2019 State of the Union address.
On February 15, as part of the Brookings Institution’s celebration of Black History Month, Abrams discussed the increasing political power of African-Americans after the 2018 elections and the tensions that may arise as the African-American electorate and candidates claim more political space. She was joined in conversation by The New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb. Following their discussion, both speakers answered questions from the audience.