ZORA and The Blackness present Moonrakers 2020

Stacey Abrams Has Become the Political Hero America Needs

A staunch advocate for voting rights, she embodies what it means to be a political savior

Dr. Jason Johnson
Published in
5 min readOct 8, 2019


Illustration: Shawn Martinbrough

TThe greatest superheroes always have a secret identity; the person who they are when they’re not saving the world in a cape or spandex or mechanical suit with parts from Best Buy. Usually the more unassuming the secret identity, the more amazing the hero actually is. Peter Parker is a poor kid from Queens but also Spider-Man. Ororo Munroe is a homeless pickpocket in Egypt until she becomes Storm of the X-Men. Clark Kent is the biggest nerd of all, but he can leap tall buildings in a single bound as Superman.

Ordinary beginnings make for great heroes. That’s why in the last year, Stacey Abrams has become the political hero that Black America always wanted and that White America didn’t know it needed.

AsAs origin stories go, Abrams’ isn’t all that shocking. She wasn’t born into wealth or extreme poverty or with superhuman powers but into a regular middle-class Black family. She has brothers and sisters and worked hard in school and got into Spelman College, followed by Yale Law School. Was she active in college? Yes. Did she at one point own Freaknik? Yes. (Seriously she actually owned the biggest party in the 1990s). Was getting into Yale a big deal? Absolutely.

Those things are interesting and fascinating and even drip a little Black girl magic, but they aren’t heroic. Americans assume heroes’ victories are a given — as if, just like that, Martin Luther King Jr. was going to deliver Black folks’ civil rights and transform America’s consciousness; Bree Newsome was going to climb that flagpole and save South Carolina from its brutal history; and Bruce Wayne was going to dress up as a bat, save Gotham City, and work out his family issues. We forget about the struggles on the ground along the way; the obstacles that must be overcome in traveling from humble beginnings to a hero’s journey. When it comes to Stacey Abrams, I haven’t forgotten…