By R.L. Witter
On Monday, February 1, 2021, Stacey Abrams and Black Lives Matter (BLM) were both nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. While many view 2020 as a lost year due to the lockdowns and isolation caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the work of Abrams and BLM inspired people and change that culminated in the election of a new president in November and two Democratic senators from Georgia in January.
Petter Eide, a member of Norway’s parliament, nominated BLM “for their struggle against racism and racially motivated violence” saying BLM’s call for change not only informed and affected Americans, but “…spread around the world, forcing other countries to grapple with racism within their own societies.”
In 2013, three Black women: Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi formed the Black Lives Matter Network as an online platform that existed to provide activists with a shared set of principles and goals. Since then, other organizations and activists have emerged under the banner of BLM and the scope of the organization’s focus has increased from police brutality to include LGBTQ issues, economic justice, and immigration reform.
After years of Black people being abused and sometimes killed by the American justice system, the May 25th death of George Floyd at the hands (or rather the knee) of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, BLM members marched in protest of yet another unarmed Black person killed by police. The marches and protests spread from Minneapolis to cities all over America and then around the world. Photos and videos of thousands of people of all races, creeds, and colors gripped the world’s attention for more than two full months.
BLM hats, shirts, posters, pins, and signs were made, purchased and worn throughout the summer and the rest of the year to remind people of the injustices still happening in America and around the world. Major cities created BLM streets and plazas, with the culmination being a portion of 16th Street near Lafayette Square and part of President’s Park being renamed “Black Lives Matter Plaza” and the pavement emblazoned with 35-foot letters spelling out “Black Lives Matter” just across from the White House, courtesy of Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Stacey Abrams, who mounted an unsuccessful but sea change campaign for Georgia governor in 2018, turned lemons into lemonade and made good on her promise to bring change to the Peach State. Having served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2007-2017, she was dismayed by the voter suppression she saw occurring in the state and vowed to increase minority and women voting. In 2014 she co-founded the New Georgia Project and in six years, she registered 500,000 new voters.
“Abrams’ work follows in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s footsteps in the fight for equality before the law and for civil rights,” said Lars Haltbrekken, a Socialist Party member of Norway’s parliament. “Abrams’ efforts to complete King’s work are crucial if the United States of America shall succeed in its effort to create fraternity between all its peoples and a peaceful and just society.”
Now a national political figure, Abrams is credited with almost single-handedly turning the tide in American politics. Her voter registration work resulted in the election of Joe Biden as president and caused the senatorial run-off election that netted two Democratic senators and a 50-50 split in the Senate. Vice President Kamala Harris is the deciding vote, thanks to Abrams for delivering the voters for Biden’s win.
Notable Americans who have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize include Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama; and former Vice President Al Gore. The Norwegian Nobel Committee will announce the 2021 Laureate in October.