Howard University has named Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams as its first Ronald W. Walters Endowed Chair for Race and Black Politics.

Abrams, a lawyer and former top Democrat in the Georgia House of Representatives, will join the university’s faculty to foster collaborations and real-world solutions on “critical issues of race and Black politics, especially those issues that affect Americans of the African diaspora,” the university said.

Abrams will also lead the Ronald W. Walters Speakers Series to ensure diverse perspectives on a range of topics.

“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,” Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick said in Wednesday’s announcement.

“We are pleased to welcome Stacey Abrams to Howard University as the inaugural Ronald W. Walters Endowed Chair for Race and Black Politics!” the university tweeted.

Ronald W. Walters was an internationally renowned scholar and activist on issues affecting the African diaspora through his death in 2010. The endowed chair was created in Walters’ name to continue his legacy and establish Howard University as a scholarship leader in Black politics.

After serving in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2007 to 2017, Abrams became a voting rights activist. She was the Democratic nominee in the 2018 and 2022 Georgia gubernatorial elections, losing both times to Republican candidate Brian Kemp. Following her first narrow loss, Abrams refused to concede and accused Kemp, who was Georgia’s Secretary of State at the time, of voter suppression.

In 2019, Abrams became the first African-American woman to deliver a response to the State of the Union address.

“I am honored to serve as the inaugural Ronald W. Walters Endowed Chair for Race and Black Politics, having had the privilege of knowing and learning from Dr. Walters,” Abrams said Wednesday.

“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.”


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