Stacy Abrams will speak at the University of New England at its Portland campus on Jan. 22. Courtesy photo

The University of New England will welcome Georgia politician, lawyer, and voting rights champion Stacey Abrams as part of its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

UNE will host “A Conversation with Stacey Abrams” at noon at Innovation Hall on the University’s Portland Campus, 716 Stevens Ave., according to a press release from the university which also has a campus in Biddeford. The event is free and open to the public. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Abrams is a New York Times bestselling author, serial entrepreneur, nonprofit CEO, and political leader. A seven-time Georgia House Democratic leader, she made history in 2018 when she earned the Democratic nomination for governor of Georgia, the first black woman to do so for a major party in the United States.

Over the course of her career, Abrams has founded multiple organizations devoted to voting rights, training and hiring young people of color, and tackling social issues at both the state and national levels. After witnessing the gross mismanagement of the 2018 election by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, Abrams launched the organization Fair Fight to ensure every Georgian has a voice in the election system.

Abrams is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the 2012 recipient of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award, and a current member of the Board of Directors for the Center for American Progress. She is the author of the 2018 New York Times bestseller, “Lead from the Outside,” a guidebook to making real change.

Abrams holds degrees from Spelman College, the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, and Yale Law School.

The Annual MLK Jr. Celebration is held in honor of Dr. King’s visit to St. Francis College (UNE’s precursor) in May 1964 and to encourage discussion of racial equality in the 21st century. The celebration is coordinated by the Office of Intercultural Student Engagement with funding from the Office of the Provost and support from students, faculty, and staff.

Joining Abrams is Theodore R. Johnson, a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice who explores the interactions between race, electoral behavior, and policy outcomes that result in socioeconomic and political disparities.

Johnson’s research and writing on politics and racial disparities has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and several other national and niche publications. He is author of the forthcoming book “When the Stars Begin to Fall,” which is an argument for the creation of a national solidarity that combats the racial inequality threatening America.

Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Hampton University, a master’s degree with a concentration in international relations from Harvard University, and a doctorate of law and policy from Northeastern University.

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