Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has been selected to speak at Emory’s Class Day on May 9, according to a March 18 University press release. The student-organized event for graduating seniors will include a presentation of the Boisfeuillet Jones Medals and other senior awards.
The University’s 174th Commencement, scheduled for May 13, will feature civil rights activist and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young as the keynote speaker.
Abrams was thrust into the national spotlight after winning Georgia’s Democratic primary for the governor’s race in May 2018, making her the first black woman in U.S. history nominated to represent a major party in a gubernatorial race.
She lost the general election by a 1.4 percent margin to then-Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Abrams and other Democrats alleged that Kemp used his authority as secretary of state to suppress minority voters. She is currently considering a 2020 presidential bid.
During her campaign, Abrams pushed a progressive agenda including Medicaid expansion and stricter gun control.
Abrams was also the first black woman and first non-sitting public official to deliver a response to the State of the Union address last month, in which she pushed for electoral reform and criticized President Donald J. Trump for the longest-ever government shutdown.
Prior to her gubernatorial campaign, Abrams served in the Georgia House of Representatives for 11 years and served as the House minority leader from 2011 to 2017.
In 2013, Abrams founded the New Georgia Project which has registered about 250,000 voters since 2014.
Abrams spoke at an Emory Law School Democrats meeting in April 2018 where she expressed disapproval over the University’s annexation into Atlanta, citing problems with school district zoning, the Wheel previously reported.
Student group Young Democrats of Emory campaigned for Abrams in Fall 2018 by canvassing voters and mobilizing students on campus.
Abrams holds a juris doctorate from Yale Law School (Conn.), a master’s degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Spelman College (Ga.). Her parents, Robert (92T) and Carolyn (92T) Abrams, attended Emory’s Candler School of Theology.
Previous Class Day speakers include urban planner Ryan Gravel, actress Jackie Cruz and designer Kenneth Cole (76C).