State House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams was the keynote speaker June 9 for the Liberty County Democratic Annual Awards.
Abrams, D-Atlanta, is the first woman to lead either party in the Georgia General Assembly and is the first African-American to lead the House of Representatives. This year, she was recognized as one of “12 Rising Legislators to Watch” by Governing magazine and one of the “100 Most Influential Georgians” by Georgia Trend.
She said Liberty County is a model for Georgia because it proves that Democrats can be multi-racial and multi-cultural yet still represent thousands.
Abrams said the state was at “a dangerous crossroads” and that Democrats had a chance to turn the face of the state.
“Republicans have overreached and are starting to alienate themselves,” Abrams said. “The reality is the more they do, the better we look. The more they speak, the better we sound and the more they stand, the higher we are. We have to be ready to take advantage of that.”
She said Republicans have drawn a political map of the state that creates a super-majority opportunity for the first time. She said this would allow the GOP to pass a constitutional amendment without asking any Democrat for a vote.
She gave Democrats a three-step task. First, pick an issue that matters and educate themselves and 10 others and be willing to educate.
Next, she said, activate others by making sure certain they follow through.
Finally, she said Democrats have to agitate. She stated the Georgia has one of the lowest education rates, but money keeps getting cut from the education budget. She also said that good things have been done with criminal justice reform, but there are still many people in prison and so few in college.
“It’s like a washing machine,” she said. “Sure, the water and soap is there, but it’s the agitator that cleans the clothes.”
Four awards were presented during the banquet.
Charles Frasier received the Winfred Bell Yellow Dog Democrat Award. Frasier has been an active member of the Democratic Party of Liberty County since 1970, has served two terms as vice chairman and is in his second term as chairman. He is mayor pro tem on the Hinesville City Council and serves in various civic organizations.
Gabriel’s House Ranch received the Sen. Glenn Bryant Community Service Award. Gabriel’s House was established in 2004 by Jay and Joel Osteen and provides a home for children removed from their homes by the Department of Family and Child Services.
Barry Wilkes received the Sen. Rene Kemp Public Service Award. Wilkes is clerk and court administrator for Liberty County’s superior, state and juvenile courts.
David Carter was inducted into the party’s hall of fame, which honors party members who were considered tireless workers in helping the community and the party. Carter served 20 years in law enforcement and was also a dedicated Mason and member of Hinesville’s Masonic Lodge No. 271.