ATLANTA - When she said others' imaginations weren't big enough to picture her ambitions, former Georgia Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said she was guided by her own imagination.
She encouraged hundreds of Class of 2020 graduates from Clark Atlanta University to let their imaginations be their compass as they embark on professional journeys.
Abrams began her speech at Clark Atlanta University by addressing the obvious: The world changed in 2020, when may donning caps and gowns were supposed to be celebrated and when Abrams was initially scheduled to speak.
"We were supposed to do this last year," Abrams said. " I had a whole thing planned
Abrams emplored graduates not to edit their ambitions based on the expectations of others, embrace their fears and remember why they pursued their professional dreams.
Abrams said, when she ran for governor in 2018, people gave her reasons why she'd fail.
"My hair was too curly, my skin was too dark, my gap was too large and there was more of me than most people expected," Abrams said. "I was told Georgia wasn't ready."
Abrams said she didn't care. She ran for governor and faced fears of voter suppression, which she attributed to her defeat to Gov. Brian Kemp. She said she embraced that fear when she launched Fair Fight Action to increase voter turnout in the 2020 election.
Abrams said professional success is motivated by more than salary or job titles, it's an internal spark — a "why" — that drives people to persevere.
"The ‘why,’ keeps us close and makes us friends and makes us stronger people in the end," Abrams said.
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