WASHINGTON– Howard University is pleased to announce the appointment of Stacey Abrams, Esq., as the inaugural Ronald W. Walters Endowed Chair for Race and Black Politics. The chair will be housed in the Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center at Howard University.
“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,” said Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick. “As the inaugural Ronald W. Walters Endowed Chair, Ms. Abrams’ selection not only honors the work and legacy of renowned political strategist and scholar Dr. Ronald Walters, it expands on that legacy by bringing Howard students in dialogue with a contemporary candidate whose work has directly influenced today’s political landscape.”
In this role, Abrams will foster interdisciplinary collaborations across the University on critical issues of race and Black politics, especially those issues that affect Americans of the African diaspora. The chair will inspire research and encourage broad discussions of scholarship for real-world solutions to complex, seemingly insoluble societal problems that adversely affect African diasporic communities and other vulnerable populations. Finally, as the inaugural chair, Abrams will lead a vibrant Ronald W. Walters Speakers Series with invited guests on a range of topics representing diverse perspectives.
“I am honored to serve as the inaugural Ronald W. Walters Endowed Chair for Race and Black Politics, having had the privilege of knowing and learning from Dr. Walters,” said Abrams. “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. From my alma mater, Spelman College, I have carved out a career that allows me to weave together policy analysis, political leadership, social justice, business, environmental, entertainment, and more. Through this post, I hope to emulate Dr. Walter’s diasporic lens on our world and be a part of how Howard University continues to contribute to the broader political discourse.”
A Spelman College alumna, Abrams graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in interdisciplinary studies (political science, economics, and sociology) and was named a Harry S. Truman Scholar in 1994. She then received a master’s degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and earned a J.D. from Yale University. After practicing tax law for a major firm, she was appointed the Deputy City Attorney for the city of Atlanta. In addition, she co-founded several businesses, including a financial services firm and an infrastructure consulting business.
Abrams began her political career in the Georgia General Assembly in 2007, serving as a state representative for over a decade until 2017. During that time, Abrams was the minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017. As minority leader, Abrams was the first woman to lead either party in the Georgia General Assembly, and the first African American to lead in the House of Representatives. In 2018, Abrams made history by becoming the first African American woman to win a major party nomination for governor in the United States as the Democratic nominee in Georgia.
Over the course of her career, she has launched multiple nonprofit organizations devoted to democracy protection, national and local voter engagement, tackling social issues, and building a more equitable future in the South.
In addition to her political, philanthropic, and business career, Abrams is the bestselling author of fifteen books, including “Our Time is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America” and “Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change.” Abrams has also penned political thrillers such as “Rogue Justice” and “While Justice Sleeps,” as well as an entrepreneurial guidebook “Level Up” and two children’s books: “Stacey’s Remarkable Books” and “Stacey’s Extraordinary Words.”
“Stacey Abrams is a respected voice in American politics, known for her advocacy for voting rights, criminal justice reform, environmental justice, and economic empowerment for marginalized communities,” said Howard University Provost and Chief Academic Officer Anthony K. Wutoh, PhD. She continues to be an influential figure in the Democratic Party and a role model for young women and people of color who aspire to enter the policy arena. We are incredibly grateful to Ms. Abrams for her commitment to investing in the future of Howard students as the Ronald W. Walters Endowed Chair and we are pleased to welcome her to Howard University.”
Ronald W. Walters, PhD, was an internationally renowned scholar, activist, and expert on issues affecting the African Diaspora until his death in 2010. The endowed chair was created in Walters’ namesake to continue his legacy of expanding the University’s capacity as a leader in emerging scholarship in Black politics. Howard University first announced the creation of the endowed chair position in 2020 when Patricia Turner Walters, Ronald Walter’s wife, gifted Howard University with the couple’s personal collection of African American art valued at more than $2.5 million. The Ronald W. and Patricia Turner Walters Collection is currently on display at the Howard University Gallery of Art.