On January 20, 2018, I took the train with my bike (as usual) to Atlanta’s West End MARTA station, exited on Lee Street and rode the mile or so down Murphy and Allene to a place adjacent to the Atlanta Beltline’s Westside Trail named The Bakery. I was there to bear witness as a street photographer to a protest titled Power to the Polls, and I locked my bike with others already lined against a chain-linked fence.
The headliner was a woman named Stacey Abrams, a Yale-graduated lawyer who had served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2007 to 2017 (as minority leader from 2011 to 2017). I knew nothing about her. That day in the winter sunshine, she gripped me so completely with her authenticity, passion, and sheer brilliance that when I came home I told my husband, “Wow. I heard a woman speak today named Stacey Abrams, and I gotta say, whatever she’s selling, I’m buying.” There is one story she told that day that will stick with me forever. Google the time high school valedictorians were invited to the Governor’s mansion, and what happened when Stacey Abrams and her parents arrived via bus. It is heartbreaking.
As kismet would have it (stories in the universe like to come full circle), Stacey Abrams ran for Governor of the State of Georgia in the fall of 2018. There was no doubt I would vote for her. However, the gates were locked in a different way this time, as she did not win. Voter suppression was claimed. Since then, she has made it her mission to upend the system and ensure that every vote is counted. I read a claim that she has registered 800,000 people to vote in the State of Georgia in these past two years.
And now, here we are. Counting every vote. Possibly flipping Georgia from red to blue. Maybe even electing a president.
If you’d like to see my photo album from that day, click here. If you doubt one person (such as you) can make a difference, think for a moment today about Stacey Abrams. And know that you are powerful and necessary— now, more than ever.
Related: My street photography from the Women’s March, Climate Protests, Families Belong Together March, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day March and Protest, the Airport Protest, and additional Signs of the Times (which I’ve turned into a poem, by the way — whoops, I just realized I made that last one private since I may include the photos in a new book of poems-at-the-speed-of-bike on which I’m working)