ATLANTA (CN) — Before she was the Democratic candidate for Georgia governor, Stacey Abrams participated in a flag-burning protest of the Georgia state flag, which featured a prominent Confederate symbol, more than 25 years ago.
A report on the 1992 protest resurfaced Monday evening in the New York Times. The newspaper cited a June 1992 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article which was accompanied by a photo showing Abrams on the steps of the Georgia Capitol with other students as they burned the Georgia state flag and the Confederate battle emblem that had been attached to it in the '50s.
"[The protestors] said the Georgia flag symbolizes a brutal time in the history of African Americans, and they demanded that the Legislature restore the original Georgia flag: the state seal superimposed on a field of blue," the June 1992 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article says.
The article resurfaced just one day before Abrams is set to debate her Republican opponent, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and two weeks before Election Day.
If Abrams is elected, she will become the first black female governor in American history.
According to the New York Times, the protest took place while Abrams was still a freshman at Spelman College in Atlanta.
In a statement, Abrams' campaign characterized the event as "a permitted, peaceful protest against the confederate emblem in the flag."
" During Stacey Abrams’ college years, Georgia was at a crossroads, struggling with how to overcome racially divisive issues, including symbols of the confederacy, the sharpest of which was the inclusion of the confederate emblem in the Georgia state flag," Abigail Collazo, a spokeswoman for Stacey Abrams, said in a statement.
" This conversation was sweeping across Georgia as numerous organizations, prominent leaders, and students engaged in the ultimately successful effort to change the flag," Collazo said.
The Confederate battle flag was attached to the Georgia state flag in 1956 in response to the burgeoning civil rights movement and court-ordered desegregation of schools. The emblem, which was considered by many to be a symbol of white supremacy, was not successfully removed from the flag until 2002.
The flag-burning could prove to be a challenge for Abrams, whose opponent has portrayed her as "too extreme for Georgia."
Abrams has responded to accusations of extremism by pointing to her Southern upbringing and her history of working alongside Republicans as former state House minority leader.
" Abrams’ time in public service as Deputy City Attorney and as a state legislative leader have all been focused on bringing people together to solve problems," Collazo said.
But Abrams has not shied away from expressing her opposition to some Confederate symbols, calling the Stone Mountain Confederate memorial "a blight on our state."
After a deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, Abrams called for the removal of the Confederate memorial carving, which features Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and Confederate president Jefferson Davis.
A representative for Brian Kemp did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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