A group of notable Black business leaders have come together to urge corporations to join the fight against restrictive voting bills being passed around the country.
Former chief executive of American Express Kenneth Chenault and Kenneth Frazier, chief executive of Merck, are leading efforts of the group which includes dozens of business leaders across industries and the nation. The group of 72 Black business executives signed a letter calling on American corporations to publicly denounce voting rights suppression.
The group formed after many major corporations didn’t take a stand following the passage of the contentious voting restriction bill in Georgia last week.
“There is no middle ground here,” Chenault told The New York Times. “You either are for more people voting, or you want to suppress the vote.” The outlet reported this is a first in a major showing of collaboration among prominent Black business leaders towards voting rights justice.
Though the group didn’t call out specific companies, it did address all American corporations to come out publicly against the hundreds of bills moving through state legislatures that seek to make voting harder, especially for Black people.
“This impacts all Americans, but we also need to acknowledge the history of voting rights for African Americans,” Chenault told The Times. “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.”
On Wednesday (March 31), two Georgia-based corporations, Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, took a public stand against the law. Chairman and CEO James Quincey said the company “always opposed this legislation,” and called Georgia’s law “a step backward,” according to CNBC News.
Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian called the law “unacceptable,” “wrong,” and “based on a lie,” CNN reported.
Civil rights groups and voting rights advocacy organizations are fighting the law in court with a lawsuit contesting its constitutionality.
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