Stacey Abrams on Tuesday defended her presence at a 1992 burning of a Georgia state flag, which contained the Confederate battle flag design, saying at a gubernatorial debate, “I’m a very proud Georgian.”
“Twenty-six years ago as a college freshman, I along with many other Georgians – including the governor of Georgia – were deeply disturbed by the racial divisiveness that was embedded in the state flag with that Confederate symbol,” said Abrams, the Democrat trying to become the next governor of Georgia, in response to a question at a debate Tuesday night.
“I took an action of peaceful protest,” Abrams continued, largely echoing her defense made in a statement to CNN earlier Tuesday. “I said that that was wrong. And 10 years later, my opponent, Brian Kemp, actually voted to remove that symbol.”
Abrams, who would become the nation’s first black female governor if elected, participated in a protest that included the flag burning on the steps of the Georgia Capitol when she was a freshman at Spelman College in Atlanta. The New York Times first reported her’ involvement in the protests Monday.
That involvement came to light just before Abrams was set to debate her Republican opponent – Kemp, the Republican secretary of state – on Tuesday and two weeks before Georgians head to the polls to decide which candidate will be the next governor of their state.
Kemp did not bring up the flag burning at the debate and has not commented on the incident publicly. The question to Abrams was the only time the flag burning was mentioned at the debate.
“What I’m fighting for now, though, is more of Georgia values,” Abrams said, and talked about expanding Medicaid in the state, improving the education system and creating jobs in all counties of Georgia.
“That’s what I want to do because I’m proud of Georgia and proud to be a Georgian,” Abrams said.
CNN’s Devan Cole contributed to this report.