Stacey Abrams Speaks to Students Virtually for MLK Week

Representative Stacey Abrams of Georgia; photo courtesy of

Representative Stacey Abrams of Georgia; photo courtesy of

On Sunday, Jan. 17, students at Emory & Henry College were invited to attend a webinar with former Georgia state representative Stacey Abrams as the keynote speaker.

The event was hosted by Averett University’s Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness. Bradley Hartsell, Integrative Learning Technology Coordinator at E&H, received an invitation via email from the university to attend the event because both Averett and E&H are schools with Bonner scholar programs.

“Amazingly, it was a free registration,” Hartsell said. “I know me and my colleagues in the Appalachian Center tried to share this opportunity with as many students as possible.”

Students were excited to hear about the event invitation, including Alexa Shockley, a second-year student at E&H.

“I think a chance to hear anybody as distinguished as Stacey Abrams speak is an amazing opportunity,” she said.

After Abrams spoke, Zoom breakout rooms were opened for students to continue the conversation, which Shockley participated in as well.

“A lot of the participants in the breakout room were from Averett, and I got to chat with a lot of interesting people about ‘hot’ topics,” she said. “My breakout room discussed economic disparity relating to race and gender.”

Hartsell also felt the topics Abrams covered were timely, and he expressed that this educational opportunity for students was one with a highly relevant speaker and message.Abrams served in the Georgia General Assembly from 2007-2017 and has recently gained notoriety for educating and rallying voters in the state.

“Abrams is one of the leading voices today of civil rights,” Hartsell said. “She puts words to action by registering and connecting with hundreds, if not thousands of Georgia voters who had felt ‘left out’ previously. I would hope that’s inspirational to students, that their vote matters, that they can make a real difference.”

Hartsell finds this message to be particularly relevant at Emory & Henry.

“Emory & Henry is a civic-minded institution, our Bonner program being a small-but-proud part of that. In Abrams, there’s not a more-fitting message to institutions like E&H from a more-fitting voice,” he said.

Although faculty members such as Hartsell tried to share the opportunity with a multitude of students, Shockley believes opportunities like these should be more publicized in the future.

“I definitely think more opportunities like this should be available to college students and on our campus, and they should be promoted more prominently,” she said.

As it was, the event brought together over 800 participants from higher education institutions, and Hartsell is grateful students at E&H had the opportunity to hear Stacy Abrams’ message.

“It sure seems like she will be a notable figure in history classes years from now,” he said. “So to be able to listen to her, for free, in the comfort of our own homes, coming off a momentous accomplishment for her voting rights activism – it definitely made for a memorable experience.”


Correction: (January 27, 2021)

An earlier version of this article referred to Stacey Abrams as “Representative Stacey Abrams.” She is a former Georgia state representative.