President Trump’s Time Is Nearly Up, and Black Women Will See Him Out
John Lewis would be smiling today and Stacey Abrams and Nikema Williams certainly are as Georgia is on the verge of rejecting Trump and decades of attempts to thwart Black voters.
Donald Trump’s political career began with a lie. A virulently racist lie. Now, Black women are on the verge of bringing that career to its end.
No sooner had Barack Obama sat down behind the Resolute Desk than Donald Trump’s racist tirades filled the airwaves, repeatedly questioning the legitimacy of the 44th president. Emphasizing Obama’s middle name, Hussein, Trump said he was sending investigators to Hawaii to find the “real” birth certificate and prove, once and for all, that the nation’s first Black president was born on foreign soil and was not entitled to hold the highest office in the land. In time, that conspiracy theory became an ideology—one that would fuel Trump’s political aspirations.
It is deeply satisfying that a Black woman, Sen. Kamala Harris, is helping to write what appears to be his political eulogy. And the congressional district that could seal history’s verdict, pending a recount in the state, is Georgia’s 5th—the home of the late Rep. John Lewis, one of the first to endorse Obama’s candidacy and one of Trump’s most vocal critics.
For his part, Trump once called the district—the home of Coca-Cola Enterprises, world-renowned historically Black colleges and universities, and the largest concentration of Black wealth in the country—a “crime-ridden” disaster. He said he wasn’t sure Lewis, a man the history books will hail as the conscience of the House and who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Dr. Martin Luther King to advance civil and human rights, had accomplished very much in his life.
Should former Vice President Joe Biden and Harris be sworn in as the president and vice president of these United States, the road they took there will have run straight through Georgia and Lewis’ district.
Almost no one thought it could be done. After all, no Democrat had won the state since Bill Clinton narrowly beat George H.W. Bush in 1992, also the last time a Democrat ousted a Republican incumbent. That was before Roy Barnes became the last Democrat to turn out the lights in the governor’s mansion, back in 2003. Two Black men— Democrats Thurbert Baker and Michael Thurmond—held elected statewide until 2011 as attorney general and labor secretary.
But the 2010 census was intended to ensure that those leaders would be the last of their kind. Maps were redrawn, new voting systems installed, and Republican secretaries of state—including Karen Handel, who lost a bid for Congress in a rout to Lucy McBath Tuesday night—launched an effort to cement their power. The fact is that our state is now highly gerrymandered, and targeted voter suppression “Katy barred” the door to the statehouse for over a decade.
Lewis knew better and so did Stacey Abrams.
The world now knows her name. But before Abrams was a regular on late-night talk shows and regaling standing-room-only crowds, back when the former state representative and gubernatorial candidate said Georgia was winnable for Democrats, most people here and across the country simply shrugged. She believed in math, and the numbers, she said, were there. Abrams, who now leads Fair Fight, understood what some of us have always known: Georgia was never “deep red” as the political prognosticators claimed. The Spelman College alum and tax attorney spent nearly two decades mounting massive voter registration drives and challenging voter purges in court.
Abrams and Congresswoman-elect Nikema Williams, a friend and protégé of Lewis who will now represent the 5th, believed the civil rights icon when he said, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Do not become bitter or hostile. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. We will find a way to make a way out of no way.”
They kept working. They bet on justice. They bet on Georgians. They kept organizing and pressing the case for change. And 2020 may yet prove to be the year that their bet paid off, with Biden pulling ahead—pending that recount announced hours later—as absentee ballots from predominantly Black counties across the Atlanta metro and Savannah were counted in the wee hours of Friday morning.
“It wasn’t absentee ballots in populous Fulton or DeKalb counties that pushed Joe Biden beyond President Donald Trump in Georgia, nor was it one of the newly minted Democratic northern suburbs,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution political columnist Greg Bluestein wrote. “It was Clayton, the south metro county that’s also the bluest bastion in the state, that provided the decisive votes.”
It was Clayton, a largely Black community just south of Atlanta which Lewis represented part of in Congress, that turned the tide.
Without question, this election—as much or more than any other—was about race. Those who know me well also know that I welcome rigorous, fact-based debate. But, as the mother of Black children who have blessed me with grandchildren, I won’t debate our humanity. My American franchise is not up for dispute.
Nearly every moral question this nation has confronted about itself came on the backs of Black people. Supporting the current system means supporting a society that does not value our lives. We should all be about purging the strictures of race, class, and gender that swallow communities whole.
Black women watched Trump roll out his phony “Platinum Plan” meant to silence us. We remember when he posted a full-page New York Times ad calling for the execution of five innocent Black boys. We heard him when he demonized Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). We heard him when he called African nations “shit-hole countries.” We were listening when he excoriated Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) as a “low IQ individual” and called Harris a “monster.”
And, now, he is being forced to hear us. When the clock runs out on Donald Trump’s presidency, and very soon it appears, Black women will be there to escort him out.
This is what democracy looks like.