WASHINGTON — Former candidate for Georgia governor Stacey Abrams, who remains one of the Democratic Party’s most recognizable figures, will serve as Howard University’s inaugural Ronald W. Walters Endowed Chair for Race and Black Politics.
“We are at an inflection point for American and international democracy, and I look forward to engaging Howard University’s extraordinary students in a conversation about where they can influence, shape and direct the critical public policy decisions we face,” Abrams said in a statement about her new role.
The endowed chair is named for a longtime Howard professor who also was behind one of the nation’s first lunch-counter protests in 1958 and later served as an adviser to the Rev. Jesse Jackson when he ran for president.
Howard University is considered one of the nation’s most prestigious Black colleges and universities. Abrams is a graduate of Spelman College, which often lands at the top of HBCU ranking lists. She has worked as an adjunct at Spelman, and she noted Wednesday that her experiences on the Atlanta campus and beyond have prepared her for the latest role at the university based in Washington.
“From my alma mater, Spelman College, I have carved out a career that allows me to weave together policy analysis, political leadership, social justice, business, environmental, entertainment, and more,” she said. “Through this post, I hope to emulate Dr. Walter’s diasporic lens on our world and be a part of how Howard University continues to contribute to the broader political discourse.”
Howard President Wayne A.I. Frederick said in a news release that Abrams’ appointment as the inaugural Walters endowed chair will help carry on the late faculty member’s legacy and expand it to the latest generation of Howard students.
“Stacey Abrams has proven herself an essential voice and eager participant in protecting American democracy — not just for certain populations, but for everyone with the fundamental right to make their voices heard,” he said.
There has been a great deal of speculation about what would be Abrams’ next steps after she lost her rematch against Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in November. Kemp won with 53% of the vote, improving on his performance against Abrams from their first matchup in 2018, when he bested Abrams by fewer than 55,000 votes to garner just over 50% of voters’ support. She has said that she has not ruled out another run for office.
Abrams will join other notable members of Howard’s faculty such as actress Phylicia Rashad, who serves as dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, and journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who in November launched the Center for Journalism & Democracy on campus.
She will remain a resident of Georgia and commute to Washington to conduct research, hold talks and perform other functions for the university.
The faculty position adds to what is already a full plate for Abrams. Three weeks ago, she announced that she had joined Rewiring America as senior counsel. The nonprofit advocacy organization is at the center of the effort to move consumers from fossil fuels to cleaner energy.
Abrams is also co-founder of the Southern Economic Advancement Project, an environmentally focused think tank, and she is scheduled to release a sequel to her political thriller in May, which will be titled “Rogue Justice.”
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