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Georgia Black women leaders on ‘saving democracy’ by helping flip Senate, fueling Biden-Harris win

The New Georgia ProjectBy MARIYA MOSELEY, ABC News

(ATLANTA) — As the Biden-Harris administration officially begins, Georgia organizers reflect on the historic moment after Black voters in the state not only helped solidify their win but also shifted power in Washington.

Among the many grassroots organizations that have put in yearslong efforts to turn the state blue was The New Georgia Project, which has registered roughly 700,000 people in the state.

The group, founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams, has stood at the forefront of helping register voters of color – who turned out in record numbers during both the 2020 presidential election and the two runoffs earlier this month.

Nsé Ufot, who serves as the group’s chief executive officer, said that she’s proud of the work organizers put in, especially young people, who made this moment possible.

“It feels really, really good to have your hypothesis born out in real-time for the entire world to see. … and to have people thank you for saving our democracy,” Ufot told ABC News.

Hours after being sworn in on Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris also ushered in three other historic firsts: Alex Padilla, who filled her vacant U.S. Senate seat and became California’s first Latino senator; and Georgia’s newest senators, Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

Warnock, the senior pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, became the first Black senator from Georgia. Ossoff is now the first Jewish senator from the state and the youngest Democrat elected to the Senate since Biden in 1972.

Another group that helped fuel historic voters in the state was Women on the Rise, an organization founded about a decade ago and focuses on informing women of color impacted by the criminal justice system on their voting rights.

“We knew that we needed to educate our folks to get out and vote and make a difference. … and that it was urgent,” Marilynn Winn, co-founder and executive director of Women on the Rise, told ABC News.

Winn, a 69-year-old native of the Peach State, has been advocating for voting policy changes after spending about 40 years in and out of the criminal justice system.

She says that although time will ultimately tell what will come out of the Biden administration, the new change in leadership already feels like a “new day” and a “brighter day.”

“It’s almost like someone has wiped the darkness away and given us new light,” Winn said.

In addition to putting up billboards in low-income communities, Winn and her staff members also assisted with getting hundreds of voters registered across the state –– many of whom were unaware that they had the right to vote following their incarceration.

Two years ago, Winn not only got a chance to meet then-Sen. Harris during a conference on criminal justice reform, but she also got to interview her alongside Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. in Philadelphia.

Ufot, who was born in Nigeria and raised in southwest Atlanta, says that a part of helping tip the scale in favor of Democrats was activists’ voices being “louder with accurate information” despite baseless widespread voter fraud claims being spewed by former President Donald Trump.

“What we learned is that disinformation is dangerous and it needs to be treated as such,” Ufot said.

Now, she’s hopeful for the future and believes that this outcome only proves the power of Americans exercising their right to vote.

“I think that we are going to be able to build upon this moment for years to come…and I’m super pumped about it,” Ufot said.

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