The movie intersperses Abrams' own interest in voting and her battle for governor of Georgia in 2018 with a broader array of historical and current issues related to voter suppression. It goes back to the dawn of the United States, when only white, property-owning men could vote. Over time, the documentary notes, voting expanded but there have been plenty of forces making it more difficult to vote, often targeting minorities. Among the issues addressed: voter ID laws, gerrymandering, poll closures and voting roll purges.
Among those interviewed are former Obama attorney general Eric Holder, former Atlanta Mayor and Civil Rights icon Andrew Young, Emory University professor Carol Anderson, historian Eric Foner and Heritage Foundation attorney Hans von Spakovsky.
Abrams, former Democratic minority leader of the House in Georgia, has been a major proponent for voter rights for many years but made it an even bigger mission when she decided to run for governor against Republican Brian Kemp, who was Secretary of State and oversaw the election process. She founded Fair Fight, an organization to promote fair elections in Georgia and nationwide.
“Running for governor is about changing what it meant to be a leader in Georgia,” Abrams said in the film. “There is nothing more transformative than a Black woman from poverty having opportunity. It had never been done before so I thought I would take advantage of the freedom to try the things nobody else tried. We know voter turnout is the best remedy to voter suppression. We decided to after everyone who could vote.”
In a state that has been dominated by Republicans for the past 15 years, she came within about 55,000 votes of defeating Kemp, who is now governor.
The festival, which runs from September 20 through September 27, provides film screenings and panel discussions related to the civil rights movement, then and now. Among the other films featured:
- “Woman in Motion" - A 2020 film about Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura, touring the nation recruiting 8,000 of the nation’s best and brightest people of color for the NASA Space Program in 1976.
- “The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show” - A 2020 film recently released on the Peacock streaming service about the week Johnny Carson gave the civil rights activist his chair for a week in 1968. Belafonte hosted guests such as Lena Horne, Aretha Franklin, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy.
-" The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords" - A 1999 movie providing an in-depth examination of the history and contributions of African-American newspapers.
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution including TV, radio, film, comedy and all things in between. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years. He loves tennis, pop culture & seeing live events.