Ga. faith leaders meet today with CEOs over state’s new voting law

Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 8:03 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2021 at 11:21 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Backlash against Georgia’s new voter law continues.

Today, faith leaders in the Peach State say they’re meeting with CEOs of Georgia-based companies to ask them to speak up against the law.

A small group of demonstrators gathered on Washington Road over the weekend to do the same.

While Gov. Brian Kemp says the law will keep the integrity of elections, voter rights groups say it suppresses voters of color.

Among those meeting with corporate CEOs today in the closed Zoon session will be Bishop Reginald Jackson, who leads 534 African Methodist Episcopal churches in Georgia.

He earlier called for a boycott of Georgia-based companies Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, saying they had not done enough to stop the law from being passed. The companies subsequently have spoken out against the law.

“We are convinced that if faith leaders had not publicly committed to a boycott, they would not have spoken out publicly,” Jackson said in a statement.

“While we wish Coke and Delta had spoken out prior to SB 202 passing, we believe this is a good start to further public action. The meeting at 3:30 p.m. today will include company officials from Delta Airlines, Home Depot, AT&T, Southern Company, Aflac and UPS, among others. Jackson says it was organized in part by James Quincey, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola.

In addition to Jackson, the summit will also include the participation of other faith-based leaders from around Georgia, along with leaders from Black Voters Matter, the New Georgia Project, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

“It is our sincere hope is that this meeting will be productive – especially during a time when African-Americans are grieving and demand an end to police killings and brutality,” Jackson said. “Nobody wants a boycott and the faith-based community stands committed to doing all that is possible to assist the corporate community in doing the right thing.”

Over the weekend, more than 100 of the nation’s top corporate leaders met virtually to discuss ways for companies to continue responding to the law and similar ones across the U.S.

Some participated in the Zoom call from Augusta, where they were attending the Masters Tournament.

Georgia’s law has drawn opposition from Delta Air Lines, Coca-Cola and other companies based in the Peach State, although some activists have criticized them for not doing enough to keep the measure from being passed in the first place.

CBS News reported that participants on the call included Arthur Blank, owner of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons; James Murdoch and his wife, Kathryn Hufschmid; Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Theatres; Brad Karp, chairman of the law firm, Paul, Weiss; Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments; Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart; Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines; Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines; Chip Bergh, chairman of Levi Strauss Co.; and Reid Hoffman, CEO of LinkedIn. Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, and Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Airlines, were invited but unable to attend.

Also in the news ...

  • The leaders of three-dozen major Michigan-based companies, including General Motors and Ford, have announced their objection to Republican-sponsored election bills that would make it harder to vote in Michigan and other states. The businesses issued a joint statement Tuesday saying they are united for principles such as equitable access to the ballot and the avoidance of moves that reduce voting — particularly among historically disenfranchised communities. They stopped short of weighing in on specific legislation. Corporate leaders also have criticized a new election law in Georgia and bills in Texas. The Republican-led Michigan Senate will soon begin hearings on bills to require a photo ID to vote and restrict the hours in which people could drop their ballot in curbside boxes.

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