The existence of such a writing career speaks to the duality that is Abrams’ existence. She’s a policy wonk who studied tax law because working in the mayor’s office showed her that if she wanted to be a public servant, she needed to understand how the entire system worked. And she’s also someone who watches, as she told Vogue, “an inordinate amount of television,” a pop culture junkie just as unafraid to debate the frivolous stuff as she is to tackle the fight to make the American system work to its fullest for all its citizens.
In 2002, at the age of 29, she was appointed Atlanta’s deputy city attorney by Mayor Shirley Franklin, the first woman to hold the job and first Black woman to be elected mayor of a major Southern city. Four years later, Abrams ran for and was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. By 2011, she’d become the Democratic Party minority leader.
Voting rights have become the bedrock of Abrams’ civic career. In 2013, she created the New Georgia Project, a voter registration nonprofit. But after her narrow loss in the 2018 race to be Georgia’s governor—a race that made her the first Black woman to earn such a nomination from either major party in any state—she doubled down. “I sat shiva for 10 days,” she told Vogue. “Then I started plotting.” Only, she didn’t make it about her.
Rather, she launched two more nonprofits: Fair Count, dedicated to ensuring minority and poor communities in Georgia were counted in the 2020 census, and Fair Fight Action, an organization that works to secure and protect the voting rights of everyone in the state.
“When I ran for governor, I did not run simply for me,” she told the crowd at Atlanta’s Paradigm Shift 2.0: Black Women Confronting HIV, Health and Social Justice earlier this year, as quoted by The Washington Post. “And the thing is, if I had fought back and said, ‘I am going to contest this election and make myself governor,’ then everyone who loved me and stood with me would have thought, ‘Well, this is about her fight.’ My responsibility was instead to focus on the right to vote and not my right to be governor. I had no right to be governor, but I have an obligation to do the work that I said I would do if I were governor.”
And it’s that work that has been widely credited with truly changing the game in Georgia.