Despite her statement at a campaign event last week that the “blue wave” included “those who are documented and undocumented,” former state House minority leader and Democrat Stacey Abrams remains a viable contender in the race for Georgia governor. She lags behind her Republican opponent, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, by a statistically insignificant 1.3%, according to a new Opinion Savvy poll.
But last night, on the eve of the final gubernatorial debate, Abrams admitted to a past deed that could impact her standing. According to the New York Times, Abrams, who if elected would become the first black woman to win a governor’s seat in U.S. history, acknowledged her role in the 1992 burning of the Georgia state flag on the steps of the Georgia Capitol. At the time, the flag still retained a symbol of the Confederacy.
Ms. Abrams’s campaign, in a statement Monday, said her actions in 1992 were part of a “permitted, peaceful protest against the Confederate emblem in the flag” and part of a movement that was ultimately successful in changing 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,” the statement 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 June 14, 1992, protest, and Ms. Abrams’s role in it, is described in a pair of local newspaper stories at the time. A photo of Ms. Abrams and two other African-American students burning the flag appeared on the front of the local section of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution newspaper the next day.
The Times’s effort to put a happy spin on this event notwithstanding, a poll from 2015 reveals that 57% of southerners still regard the flag as a symbol of Southern pride compared with 33% who view it as a symbol of racism. Those numbers break roughly along racial lines in the state, which is 52.6% white and 31.1% black.