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Black executives call for corporate America to condemn voter suppression laws

Georgia is in the national spotlight

Carol Ozemhoya, OW Contributor | 4/5/2021, 5:54 p.m.
Dozens of prominent Black business executives...
Black male voters were a key demographic in the 2020 presidential election.

Recently, dozens of prominent Black business executives released a joint statement condemning the wave of voter suppression measures in states across the U.S. and calling on major corporations to publicly oppose them, reports the Huffington Post.

The statement, coordinated by Merck CEO Ken Frazier, former American Express CEO Ken Chenault and the Black Economic Alliance, was signed by more than 70 executives who called on corporations to oppose “all measures designed to limit Americans’ ability to vote.”

“As Black business leaders, we cannot sit silently in the face of this gathering threat to our nation’s democratic values and allow the fundamental right of Americans, to cast their votes for whomever they choose, to be trampled upon yet again,” the executives said Wednesday. Their letter ran as an ad in the New York Times and coincides with increasing pressure on American businesses to take real action against racist voter disenfranchisement attempts.

“Corporate America, the executives said, must “marshal its collective influence to ensure fairness and equity for all.”

The executives who co-signed Wednesday’s statement join crescendoing calls for corporate America to oppose voter suppression measures enacted by Republican state legislators across the country.

Just last week, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill into law that imposes new requirements to vote by mail, restricts the use of drop boxes and criminalizes people who give water or food to voters standing in line. Many of the most restrictive elements of the Georgia bill are also being pushed by Republican legislators in 43 states.

Voting rights experts and activists have compared the repressive policies to racist voter suppression laws enacted during the Jim Crow era because of their disproportionate impact on nonwhite voters, and last week, President Joe Biden called the Georgia bill “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”

In Wednesday’s joint statement, the group of Black executives said, “The disproportionate racial impact of these allegedly ‘neutral laws’ should neither be overlooked nor excused.”