Stacey Abrams Defends Her Presence At A 1992 Confederate Flag Burning

Stacey Abrams Defends Her Presence At A 1992 Confederate Flag Burning

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Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate to be the next governor of Georgia, attended a peaceful and permitted protest during her college years where she was photographed while the state flag was burned in opposition to Confederate symbolism.

At the time in 1992, the Georgia flag contained the Confederate battle flag emblem, a prominent flag feature since its adoption in 1956, when the battle over desegregation was raging in the South, CNN reported. It would be 11 more years before the Confederate battle flag emblem was fully removed from the Georgia flag in 2003.

Abrams cannot be credited with singlehandedly removing that emblem of racism from the Georgia flag. She was part of a movement.

“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,” according to a statement from Abrams’s spokeswoman Abigail Collazo. “This conversation was sweeping across Georgia as numerous organizations, prominent leaders, and students engaged in the ultimately successful effort to change the flag.”


Abrams’ role in that flag-burning protest was revealed Monday in The New York Times, a day before her first debate against Republican opponent Brian Kemp. The Times cited a June 1992 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article.

Kemp, who is overseeing the election as Georgia’s secretary of state, has said the race is a battle for the very “soul” of Georgia, Associated Press reported. He has portrayed Abrams as “too extreme for Georgia.”

The Confederate battle flag was added to Georgia’s state flag in 1956 as a show of power against the growing civil rights movement. Many considered it a symbol of white supremacy. When Atlanta was named host of the 1996 Olympics, international attention helped bring political pressure on the state to remove the racist symbol from its flag, according to AP:  “Concerns that the symbol was harming Georgia’s business reputation led to its removal in 2001.”

The Confederate battle flag was designed a World War II veteran who supported segregation, according to the  New York Daily News. A 2000 report by the Georgia State legislature said that 1956 the Georgia General Assembly “was entirely devoted to passing legislation that would preserve segregation and white supremacy.” Former Rep. James Mackay said “there was only one reason for putting that flag on there. Like the gun rack in the back of a pickup truck, it telegraphs a message.”

If elected, Abrams will become the first Black female governor.

Abrams campaigned on increasing public for education, Medicaid expansion, protecting abortion rights, expanded gun regulation, and opposition to stricter voter ID laws, arguing that they disenfranchised minorities and the poor. She supports criminal justice reform and called for an end to cash bail for poor defendants, ending the death penalty, and decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Abrams’ made a mistake by not making that flag-burning protest “a proud part of her gubernatorial campaign instead of waiting for it to be leaked one day before a debate against her opponent,” wrote Linda Stasi in the New York Daily News:

“She wasn’t anti-American, she was showing just how pro-American she was in 1992 and how far ahead of her time she was and still is in 2018.”