In a tight race to be Georgia’s next governor, an apparent Republican attempt to shame Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams for participating in the burning of Georgia’s racist flag back in college has backfired. Abrams, who would become the nation’s first Black woman governor if elected, defended her actions.
An image from a 1992 Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper clip of the demonstration suddenly surfaced on social media on Monday night — the eve of Abrams’ first debate against her GOP rival Brian Kemp — the New York Times reported.
The picture shows Abrams, during the end of her freshman year at Spelman College, burning the flag alongside two other African-American demonstrators. Abrams’ campaign confirmed to the Times that she indeed participated in the protest against the Confederate symbol on the flag.
“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,” a statement from the campaign read. “This conversation was sweeping across Georgia as numerous organizations, prominent leaders, and students engaged in the ultimately successful effort to change the flag.”
The demonstration happened when then-governor Zell Miller made his first unsuccessful bid to remove the controversial Confederate symbol from the state flag, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Georgia’s last Democratic governor, Roy Barnes, successfully authorized a redesign of the flag in 2001—a move that contributed to his political defeat in 2002.
Abrams’ opposition to Confederate symbols will likely become a debate topic on Tuesday night. Kemp has vowed to protect Confederate monuments.