In this Nov. 15, 2019, file photo, former Georgia House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams speaks at the National Press Club in Washington. Credit: Michael A. McCoy | AP

Stacey Abrams, a Georgia Democrat who has launched a multi-million-dollar effort to combat voter suppression, will appear later this month at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Portland.

The University of New England is hosting Abrams for a public forum at noon on Jan. 22 at Innovation Hall at the university’s Portland campus on Stevens Avenue, the university announced Wednesday.

In 2018, Abrams mounted an unsuccessful bid for the Georgian governor’s mansion, coming within 55,000 votes of her Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, according to The New York Times.

Since her loss, the Yale-educated tax lawyer delivered the Democrats’ response President Donald Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address and has launched an initiative, Fair Fight, to fight voter suppression, which she called a “national scourge” in a November interview with Politico.

“[A]ll of the progress we speak of as Democrats rests on the ability of voters to be heard and to participate in our process. You cannot have an effective health care system or laws that move our health care system forward, you cannot pass laws to address climate change if we do not have the right to vote,” Abrams told Politico.

Abrams is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the 2012 recipient of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award and a member of the Center for American Progress’ board of directors, according to the University of New England. She is the author of the 2018 New York Times best-seller “Lead from the Outside.”

Abrams will be joined by Theodore R. Johnson, a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice who has written on politics and racial disparities, the university said.

The university’s annual MLK Day celebration is held in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s May 1964 visit to St. Francis College, the University of New England’s predecessor, and to encourage the discussion of racial equality.

The University of New England is Maine’s largest private university.