Black religious leaders delay April 7 boycott of big businesses over Georgia election law, plan Masters protest

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / [email protected]

A coalition of religious leaders is tapping the brakes on plans to boycott powerful Georgia-based businesses that didn’t vigorously oppose the state’s new election overhaul.

Bishop Reginald Jackson said Tuesday he will wait until after a planned virtual meeting with the executives of some of Georgia’s biggest firms to decide whether to move forward with the boycott.

“Hopefully, we won’t have to give the signal,” said Jackson, the bishop of the AME Sixth Episcopal District. “We want these companies to speak out publicly against this legislation, to use their lobbying resources to fight voting restrictions in other states and to publicly support federal legislation to expand voting rights.”

Jackson and other religious leaders planned a boycott this week to punish companies that sidestepped the debate over the new voting restrictions. Since then, Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines issued scathing statements opposing the measure, and Major League Baseball pulled the All-Star game from Atlanta.

Some Republican supporters of the measure have promoted their own calls for boycotts of Coke, Delta and America’s pastime over their opposition to the measure. And Gov. Brian Kemp has said the firms “caved to fear” from Democrats and other critics of the changes.

“I want to be clear: I will not be backing down from this fight. We will not be intimidated, and we will also not be silenced,” Kemp said.

The overhaul includes new ID requirements for mail-in ballots, curbs the use of ballot drop boxes, gives the Republican-controlled Legislature more control over local elections and bans outside groups from giving water and food to voters in line. It also expands weekend voting before general elections in some counties.

The bishop said he spoke with executives with Coca-Cola and Delta shortly before they came out against the law last week, and that he’s planning to deliver similar messages to executives with Aflac, AT&T, Home Depot, Southern Co. and UPS during their virtual call next week.

In the meantime, faith leaders plan to hold a protest soon outside the Augusta National Golf Club, which is set to stage the Masters this week. Augusta National has so far remained silent about the election law, the same strategy its used when confronted with criticism over the club’s demographic makeup.

He noted the demonstrations will highlight how Augusta National didn’t invite a Black player to compete in the tournament until 1975 and didn’t admit its first Black member until 1990. His goal, he said, is to “keep the attention on Georgia” during the prestigious sporting event.

‘Suffer the consequences’

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SOURCE: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution – Greg Bluestein, Shelia Poole

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