Even though Georgia’s recently-signed election integrity law applies to everyone in the state and even has overwhelming support among black voters, more than 70 black business executives released a joint statement on Wednesday urging corporations to publicly oppose what they describe as a kind of voter suppression.
According to The New York Times, Kenneth Chenault, a former chief executive at American Express, and Kenneth Frazier, the chief executive of Merck, spearheaded the response to Georiga’s new law and urged corporations to strongly and forcefully oppose the legislation.
“There is no middle ground here,” Chenault said. “You either are for more people voting, or you want to suppress the vote.”
“This impacts all Americans, but we also need to acknowledge the history of voting rights for African-Americans,” he added. “And as African-American executives in corporate America, what we were saying is we want corporate America to understand that, and we want them to work with us.”
Frazier said he began to pay attention to the situation in Georgia after Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill into law.
“When the law passed, I started paying attention,” he said.
“There seems to be no one speaking out,” he added. “We thought if we spoke up, it might lead to a situation where others felt the responsibility to speak up.”
Frazier feared that the legislation in Georgia could spread across the United States if corporate America did not stand up to it now.
“The Georgia legislature was the first one,” Frazier said. “If corporate America doesn’t stand up, we’ll get these laws passed in many places in this country.”
“As African-American business executives, we don’t have the luxury of being bystanders to injustice,” Frazier said. “We don’t have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines when these kinds of injustices are happening all around us.”
Chenault expressed dismay that corporate America responded more forcefully to legislation aimed at the LGBTQ community than the election integrity law in Georgia.
“You had 60 major companies — Amazon, Google, American Airlines — that signed on to the statement that states a very clear opposition to harmful legislation aimed at restricting the access of L.G.B.T.Q. people in society,” he said. “So, you know, it is bizarre that we don’t have companies standing up to this.”
“This is not new,” he added. “When it comes to race, there’s differential treatment. That’s the reality.”
Movie mogul Tyler Perry, who runs a television and movie studio in Atlanta, decried the election integrity law as a “voter suppression law,” declaring it unconstitutional.
“As a Georgia resident and business owner I’ve been here a few times with the anti-abortion bill and the LGBTQ discrimination bill,” Perry told Fox News. “They all sent a shockwave through Georgia and the nation but none of them managed to succeed.”
Perry went as far as to liken the new law to the “Jim Crow era,” though he cautioned others against boycotting the state, noting the blue outcome of the 2020 election.
“I’m resting my hope in the DOJ taking a hard look at this unconstitutional voter suppression law that harkens to the Jim Crow era,” he continued. “As some consider boycotting, please remember that we did turn Georgia blue and there is a gubernatorial race on the horizon — that’s the beauty of a democracy.”