Report of Abrams burning Georgia state flag resurfaces weeks before election
September 15, 2020
A decades-old news article about Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) burning the state flag, which at the time included the Confederate battle flag, resurfaced on Monday.
Abrams stood on the steps of the Georgia Capitol in 1992 and burned the Georgia state flag, which was viewed as a symbol of white supremacy due to its Confederate design, The New York Times reported.
She was a freshman at Spelman College in Atlanta at the time and now her role in the protest is being reexamined as she faces a close race with her Republican opponent, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
The rivals are scheduled for their first debate on Tuesday.
The June 14, 1992, protest was documented in the local section of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution newspaper the following day.
Abrams spoke to the newspaper again a few weeks later and described the backlash from the initial article.
She reportedly gave an example of a woman who called her to argue the Confederate flag was a symbol of Southern heritage. Black people who did not like it could “get the hell out,” Abrams recalled.
The state legislature added the Confederate flag in 1956 as a show of resistance to federal pressure following the Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate schools, the Times reported.
The design of the flag was changed in 2001 and the Confederate flag was removed entirely in 2003, the Times noted.
The Democratic candidate’s campaign told the newspaper in a statement that her participating in the 1992 rally was part of a “permitted, peaceful protest against the Confederate emblem in 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.”
“Abrams’ time in public service as deputy city attorney and as a state legislative leader have all been focused on bringing people together to solve problems,” the statement concluded.
Abrams, if elected, would become the first black female governor in the nation.
Since the 1992 protest, she has advocated for the removal of Confederate memorials and monuments.
She has called for the Confederate carving on Stone Mountain just east of Atlanta to be removed because of its ties to white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan, the Times reported.
Her opponent Kemp has vowed to protect the monument from “the radical left.”