Stacey Abrams is producer, narrator and activist in this significant film depicting the history of voter suppression and her own personal story. You’ll understand how and why Abrams has become a driving force to make sure elections are fair. Elections have become a political football for power. You see how winning has become more important than giving the people the right to decide who will govern them.
This film is a call to action in the midst of what is becoming the most controversial Presidential election in United States history. It’s no secret that Americans are unsure if their vote will count and how fair the election will be in light of new obstacles including mail-in ballots and polling places during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
Directors Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortés have amassed drawings, photos, film, and tape of the history of voting to the problems registered voters have experienced in recent elections. They include archival footage never seen before as well of marches and presidents enacting voting rights, suppression of all kinds and more of elections and campaigns previously undiscovered.
Garbus and Cortés follow Abrams’ personal story of going with her parents to cast their vote when she was just a child. They imbued the importance of that experience in her mind forever. They also document the racism she and her family faced growing up in Georgia.
The directors effectively use animation in one of the most disturbing sequences when Abrams was invited with other high school valedictorians to a luncheon at the Governor’s mansion in 1991 and was turned away, because, she says, they were African American. The guard refused to even see if her name was on the list, despite their pleas. You can feel how much it still hurts and it is a devastating reenactment.
Abrams, systematically shows graphic examples of voter suppression during her run to become the first African American female Governor and how it could have turned the tables if the election had been handled differently. She presents information showing that race may have been a contributing factor running against White Republican incumbent Bryan Kemp. Plus, Kemp was, and now still is, Georgia’s Secretary of State, in charge of how Georgia’s elections are run.
In that role, Kemp had control of the number of polling places, poll watchers, voting hours, and the long lines that formed causing many voters to wait. Some had to stand for 6 or more hours to cast their ballots. In Georgia, you can also be purged from the rolls if you don’t vote. It can be “use it or lose it.” All of those reasons may have cost Stacey Abrams a big win. You see her speech refusing to concede to Kemp because of the insurmountable obstacles placed to keep those registered from casting their votes.
The film unfortunately shows that voter suppression is nothing new. Carol Anderson, Professor of African American Studies and author of “One Person, No Vote” shows how it’s been going on for hundreds of years. She tells how it not only keeps African Americans from voting, but women and people of all colors, plus the young and the poor who don’t know how to speak up for themselves. Anderson and former U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder make it clear that exercising your right to vote is the way to have your voice heard to preserve our democracy.
This is a powerful film documenting the history and importance of the right to vote But it also shows the passion and resolve Stacey Abrams has to right the wrongs she’s seen all over the United States that has and can still change outcomes. And now, with the Black Lives Matter protests and COVID-19 causing changes in casting and counting votes in the 2020 Presidential election, it’s more important than ever.
Amazon Studios 1 hour 42 minutes PG-13 Amazon Prime
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