— Kelly Dunford (@Kellylyndunford) April 26, 2019
Stacey Abrams first set the goal of running for the presidency 25 years ago.
After breaking up with a boyfriend, Abrams, who acknowledges she is “bad at dating,” says she created a spreadsheet laying out her goals, including being Atlanta mayor — the ceiling for black people, she thought at the time — a millionaire, and an author.
In about 1994, one of her friends, a white Republican man from South Carolina who she worked in the Clinton White House through a fellowship asked her the shocking question: “Stacey, when are you running for president?”
“President of what?” she recounted asking in response.
He reassured her that she could do it.
“What shames me to this day is that I did not believe him,” Abrams said at a sold-out Town Hall Seattle event Thursday night at Capitol Hill’s Temple De Hirsch Sinai.
“This moment where this person who was becoming my friend saw possibility in me, I immediately rejected it because there had never been a black man, a black woman, a woman ever to be a viable candidate.”
After that conversation, she went home and updated the spreadsheet to say that she would run for president of the United States.
— WhiteNonsenseRoundup (@nowhitenonsense) April 26, 2019
“Now, for anyone from POLITICO who’s listening, this is not an announcement,” she said, referring to the Washington D.C. news outlet. “It is a setup because the reality is, so often our ambitions are bounded by what we’ve seen. They’re also bounded by what people believe we’re capable of.”
Later in the evening, during the lengthy question and answer portion of the nearly two-hour long event, when a woman from the audience assumed that she was not running for president in 2020, Abrams, who gave the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s 2019 State of the Union, responded with further intrigue.
“I didn’t say I wouldn’t run, I just said I wasn’t announcing anything,” she said, a statement met with sustained applause.
Abrams, the failed 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate from Georgia and former state legislative leader, came to Seattle Thursday to share her personal brand of inspiration and talk about the struggles of being in politics given her status as an African American woman in the deep South as she promotes “Lead From the Outside,” an updated version of her 2018 book called “Minority Leader.”
“Daring to want more,” she said, is the hardest part of leadership. “So many of us have been taught that we are not supposed to be ambitious; that the things we want are not for us; that the people we want to be cannot be us. And we are also told ‘you cannot be what you cannot see.’ If that’s the truth, then so many of us are just out of the game to begin with.”
Word that Abrams was appearing in Seattle was inspiring to many in the city and tickets for the event were snapped up so quickly that one group perhaps most empowered by her messages was at danger of being left out. “This was typical. This is Seattle. It’s typical that probably the people who need to hear [the message] the most are probably not going to have that space. It’s how it usually goes with events like this,” Ishea Brown told KING TV about the disappointment that turned to excitement when Town Hall Seattle and co-sponsor Northwest African American Museum made 50 tickets available for Black women who had missed out on the initial rush.
Abrams spoke Thursday on the liberal enthusiasm in Seattle.
“For you guys, I’m probably a centrist cause y’all are different,“ joked Abrams, who says she has been here three times in the past two years. “I’m like hyper-progressive for the South. I’m normal progressive for the Midwest. I’m probably a Republican here.”
Introducing Abrams, Gov. Jay Inslee, who is running a longshot campaign for president in his own right after being chair of the Democratic Governors Association, said the 45-year-old, who is now leading a voting rights campaign, is unparalleled both in the way she inspires people and in her effectiveness in advocating for the values held by Washingtonians.
The event came on the same day Joe Biden announced his candidacy for the presidency, a person whom she was floated to be a possible early running mate for, and as she mulls a possible run for the U.S. Senate in Georgia as she figures out her next steps in fixing problems she sees in the current system.
— Jamal Raad (@jamalraad) April 26, 2019
“I am angry at oppression; I am angry at racism; I am angry at the misogyny and the black misogyny that is directed at me because my blackness terrifies them almost as much as my womanhood; I am angry that they are then allowed to strip me of my humanity and try to take my vote and my voice, and my anger is going to make me act out in ways they are not prepared for,” Abrams said.
“I’m going to run for office again and again until I can change everything I need to change.”
The event can be watched in full on Town Hall Seattle’s Youtube channel:
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