Willie Mae Samuel

Willie Mae Samuel, founder and director of the African American Connection for the Performing Arts in Rome

The refreshing bid of a bright seed did not fall on fertile soil in Georgia, but there is hope yet for Georgia. But how can any Georgian not be proud of the releasing speech made by Stacey Abrams. There is something very powerful about her that we in Georgia know that it is not over for her political work. She is homegrown and many of us should be proud of what has grown here in Georgia in spite of all of the obstacles and hindrances that she faced and will continue to face. She has such a refreshing spirit about her and she shines a light of faith and hope beyond the borders of Georgia. The light that she shines for all of Georgia and the world is that you must set our minds to succeed, stay the course and you will. She expresses overwhelming hope and faith in this democratic society.

Many people who say, “I am as conservative as Kemp and Trump,” have not thought that statement through. Once upon a time, to be conservative was not anti-people of color. Conservative meant caring about families, respecting the life, liberty and freedom of all people and this country. Today Brian Kemp’s partial definition of a conservative is that he is an individual who is in favor of getting pickup trucks and loading them up with immigrants and returning them to their country.

In the past, we used our federal government to overpower the Native Americans, took their land and now we call it our land and there is no room for people who do not look like us (not “me” us, but “you” us). Kemp ran on the worst part of human nature, the me, myself and I. Abrams never stooped to that level. She constantly said that we are better than what other people believe about Georgia and even better than what Georgians think about themselves. Abrams stated that her fight was not about her but about the voters in Georgia.

The days for the status quo have gone and will never return. It is so sad for us in Georgia to be lined up last with states from the old South who want to hold on to the idea that the days of sitting on the porch, sipping mint juleps are coming back again. Cotton is not coming back. If you do not believe me, ride out on US 411 going north and south and you will see what is happening to cotton. Those in West Virginia can stop believing that the coal mines are coming back. Because when coal mines return, so will black lung disease. When you hear ignorance floating around giving people false hope, open your mouth and shout to the mountain top to those who believe that in their hearts and minds that the days of wine and roses, when only a few could taste of the beauty of the South, are gone. Gone are those days.

You will not be able to hold on to those days without lying, cheating and stealing. I have a friend who tells me, “Mrs. Samuel, listen to me and believe me. If a man lies he will steal, if he steals, sadly to say, he will kill.” Her statement is proving to be so true even in top circles of the government. What have we allowed to happen?

Today we will examine the past that some Georgians are trying to hold on to and try to determine to whose advantage will it be. We now have a cheater and a liar in the governor’s seat. Some of you are already saying, “Oh, no, Kemp is not like that.” Well, tell us what you would call a person who began pulling over a million names from the voting rolls when he knew that he was planning back in 2012 to run for governor? What kind of individual would do that? Even the conservative court saw the error in his ways.

The status quo was legal during the Jim Crow and the black codes days. Many of you who sat quietly during those days can always say that you did so because it was the law and you did not want to break the law. Release yourselves from the tangled web of injustice that you allowed to play out directly in front of your faces as you turned your heads, grabbed your Bibles and headed to your churches to pray.

The healthiest seed cannot grow if the soil is not fertile. Georgia is in need of our soil being ploughed with integrity and watered with honesty and decency shown by the many millions of people who saw Abrams as the best Georgia had to offer in the running. But all over Georgia, especially in many of the rural, outlying areas, there are also political attitudes, and ways of expressing them, that stand in stark contrast to a capital that has long offered itself to the world as a beacon of freedom and justice for all. Georgia can be better. Let us make it so.

Willie Mae Samuel is a playwright and a director in Rome.

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