Portrait of Stacey Abrams

A record 127 women are currently serving in Congress, including 47 women of color. There are now 102 women serving in the House — the largest number in U.S. history. Last night another historical moment occurred when Stacy Abrams became the first-ever African American woman to give the formal response to a president’s address.

It wasn’t her first, first. In 2010, Abrams became the first woman to lead either party in the Georgia General Assembly and the first African American to lead in the House of Representatives. Abrams was the Democratic party’s nominee in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election, the first black female major-party gubernatorial nominee in the history of the United States, with Oprah stepping in at one point to campaign for her.

In her reponse to the State of the Union last night, Adams said,

“Our power and strength as Americans lives in our hard work and our belief in more. My family understood firsthand that while success is not guaranteed, we live in a nation where opportunity is possible. But we do not succeed alone – in these United States, when times are tough, we can persevere because our friends and neighbors will come for us. Our first responders will come for us.

It is this mantra – this uncommon grace of community – that has driven me to become an attorney, a small business owner, a writer, and most recently, the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia. My reason for running for governor was simple: I love our country and its promise of opportunity for all, and I stand here tonight because I hold fast to my father’s credo – together, we are coming for America, for a better America.”

Adams’s mother was a librarian and her father a shipyard worker, who both later became United Methodist ministers. “These were our family values – faith, service, education and responsibility.” Abrams showed promise early on. While still in high school, she was hired as a typist for a congressional campaign and was later hired as a speechwriter at age 17 based on the edits she made while typing.

Abrams is a politician, lawyer, business woman, former teacher, and writer. She received degrees from Spelman College, the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas and Yale Law School. She has received various awards and honors, including the prestigious John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award, which honors an elected official under 40 whose work demonstrates the impact of elective public service as a way to address public challenges. She was also named one of “30 Leaders of the Future” by Ebony Magazine.

One thing you might be surprised to know about her is that under the pen name Selena Montgomery, Abrams is the award-winning author of eight romantic suspense novels, which have sold more than 100,000 copies. Selena Montgomery was the winner of both the Reviewer’s Choice Award and the Reader’s Favorite Award from Romance In Color for Best New Author, and was featured as a Rising Star. Abrams has also published articles on issues of public policy, taxation, and nonprofit organizations, and is the author of Minority Leader: How to Lead from the Outside and Make Real Change.

Abrams ended her speech last night with this,

“Our progress has always found refuge in the basic instinct of the American experiment – to do right by our people. And with a renewed commitment to social and economic justice, we will create a stronger America, together. Because America wins by fighting for our shared values against all enemies: foreign and domestic. That is who we are – and when we do so, never wavering – the state of our union will always be strong.”

In related news, check out this great reading list, 100+ Books by Black Women That Should Be Essential Reading For Everyone, and CSU’s schedule of events for Black History Month.