Stacey Abrams is chosen as Howard University's first chair for race and Black politics

Then-Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams talks to the media on May 24, 2022, in Atlanta. Abrams was appointed Wednesday as Howard University's first chair for race and Black politics.

Brynn Anderson / Brynn Anderson

Stacey Abrams, the former two-time Georgia gubernatorial candidate, is joining the faculty at Howard University in Washington, D.C., the school announced Wednesday.

Abrams, a former Democratic leader in the Georgia House, will serve as the inaugural Ronald W. Walters Endowed Chair for Race and Black Politics. In her new role, Abrams will lead research across the university on political issues impacting Black Americans in addition to working with other faculty members on these issues, the university said in a news release.

She will also lead the Ronald W. Walters Speakers Series — which will bring speakers to the historically Black college on a range of diverse topics.

The 49-year-old will begin her multi-year appointment starting this September.

“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,” Abrams said in the news release.

Abrams entered the national spotlight nearly five years ago, becoming the first Black woman to earn a major party nomination for governor in the U.S. She ran again for governor in 2022, but lost to Republican incumbent Brian Kemp.

Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick emphasized that Abrams’ appointment will not only honor Walters’ legacy but will continue to expand it among students and the overall Howard community.

“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,” Frederick said.

Walters, who died in 2010, was a professor at Howard University for 25 years and was a leading scholar, activist and expert on issues surrounding race and politics. His dedication to activism and politics was influential in organizing one of the country’s first lunch-counter sit-ins in Kansas in 1958, according to The Washington Post.

Walters also served as a campaign manager and consultant for the Rev. Jesse Jackson during his two presidential campaign bids.

“His focus on African American leadership has shaped so much of how we have seen leaders engage over the last 30 years,” Abrams told the Post.

The campus announced the creation of the chair position in 2020 after his wife, Patricia Turner Walters, gifted the university with the couple’s personal collection of African American art valued at more than $2.5 million, according to the university.

Abrams’ appointment at Howard is the latest of high-profile faculty hires the university has made over the last few years.

In 2021, Howard announced that New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones along with writer and alumnus Ta-Nehisi Coates would be joining its faculty.

Earlier that year, the university announced that actor and alumnus Phylicia Rashad would serve as the dean of the fine arts school, named after the late actor Chadwick Boseman, a Howard alum.

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