In “Sweet Auburn”, a short walk from the birthplace and stone tomb of Martin Luther King Jr, salon owner Terrica Jones is silking hair with a ceramic iron and contemplating an opportunity that once seemed unthinkable: to vote for a black woman to lead Georgia, a deep south state haunted by slavery and segregation.
“When I was growing up, it would have been a dream,” says Jones, 41, an African American in Atlanta. “Today I think anybody can be governor. The important thing is you have to have the heart to do it.”
A decade after Barack Obama became America’s first black president, Stacey Abrams is bidding to become its first black female governor. But standing in the Democrat’s way in Georgia, where all 82 governors have been white men, is Brian Kemp, a Republican unapologetically borrowing from Donald Trump’s populist playbook. Kemp has described the November election as a battle for “literally the soul of our state” – he might have added that it is a battle for the soul of the nation.