Georgia Republicans’ recent passage of voter suppression measures is facing a building challenge from stakeholders in the state, and corporations continue to be called on to play a larger role in the fight for voting rights.
On Thursday, faith leaders from Georgia—including African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Reginald T. Jackson—announced their push for a boycott of many of the state’s most well-known businesses on April 7, unless the company’s leaders go even further in opposing the new voting measures signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp last week.
The legislation requires photo ID for people seeking to vote by mail, allows the state election board to take over powers from local election officials and even prohibits people from handing out food and water to voters waiting in line.
On Wednesday, the CEOs of Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola issued forceful statements calling the law “unacceptable”—but the statements notably came days after the bill’s signing.
Speaking at a press conference held at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta a day later, Jackson and others called on the corporations to put some more skin in the game.
From WSB-TV Atlanta:
The group is calling on corporate heads to meet in the coming days and agree to a press conference where they’d publicly condemn the law, publicly denounce similar measures in other states, support the current federal lawsuits against Georgia and express support for federal voting rights legislation. Those corporations would include AFLAC, Delta, Coca-Cola, Home Depot and more of the state’s largest employers.
“If they commit and if they act (we won’t boycott),” said one of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs, Bishop Reginald Jackson. “Let me say it again — commit and act. Faith without works is dead.”
Speaking with Politico, Jackson said the boycott is necessary to push the companies to stand up for Black voters in Georgia, including through financially supporting lawsuits that have been filed against the new laws.
“I really don’t want to boycott Delta. But if Delta can’t support me, there is no need for me to continue to support Delta,” he said. “When we hold back our money from these corporations, it forces them to act. The Black community puts a ton of money in support of these corporations.”
Meanwhile, Fair Fight Action’s Stacey Abrams, who has been a leader in the fight to expand voting access in Georgia, is asking people not to boycott companies in the state due to the repercussions the action would have on workers.
“To our friends across the country, please do not boycott us,” Abrams said in a video statement on Wednesday. “Boycotts have been an important tool throughout our history to achieve social change. But here’s the thing: Black, Latino, AAPI and Native American voters, whose votes are the most suppressed under HB 202, are also the most likely to be hurt by potential boycotts of Georgia.”
Abrams instead called on companies in Georgia and around the country to come off the fence in condemning the spread of voter suppression bills in several states and to support federal legislation—namely the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For The People Act—that would protect voting rights.
Companies seem to be getting a little quicker on the uptake in light of what has been unfolding in Georgia. According to the Texas Tribune, just after the Texas legislature advanced its own restrictive voting laws on Thursday, American Airlines and Dell publicly opposed the proposals on the basis that they would limit voting access. The two companies have their headquarters in the Lone Star state.