Faith-Based Leaders rallied together at the Georgia State Capitol last Thursday morning as they called for a boycott beginning April 7th, against the state’s largest companies for supporting the passage of Senate Bill 202, the bill that promises election reform while giving the Legislature power to control local election boards and reduce early voting hours, among other actions.  

Prior to its passage last week, Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines released lukewarm statements that neither expressed displeasure or support for the bill in its entirety. Thursday morning, Bishop Reginald Jackson of The AME Sixth Episcopal District of Georgia shared his concerns in a press release that outlined the measures of the proposed boycott of specific companies:

Today we come to announce a boycott to begin on Wednesday, April 7th. This boycott is against Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, and Home Depot. It may expand to include UPS, Aflac, Georgia Power, and UBS. Let me be clear, this boycott is not what we want to do. These are fine companies. In 2019 before the pandemic, I took almost 100 flights on Delta Airlines. I consider Delta my airline. 

This boycott is not something we want to do, it is something we have to do. THE question is why? The home of these corporations is Georgia. And these corporations did not speak out publicly or take a public position on SB 202 before it passed. In fact, Delta Airlines wrote an in-house memo that praised SB 202 claiming that it was considerably improved. 

The chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola said in June of last year that “our company can do better, we must stand as allies with Black lives matter and other social justice causes.” Well, when it had a chance to publicly stand with Black and Brown people it did not. Home Depot has said nothing. Black and Brown people all across this country and around the world pay billions of dollars for their products and fill their coffers. 

Well, we cannot and will not support the companies who do not support us in our struggle to cast our ballots and exercise our freedom. And we cannot support companies who support or remain silent about legislation that is based on a lie, seeks to suppress our vote, is racist, and seeks to turn back time to Jim Crow. There is no way that these companies did not know that this legislation was based on a lie. That alone should have been enough for these companies to publicly speak out and not support it.”

These religious leaders, and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp both agree with the premise that criticism coming from the C-Suite is too little, too late. However, that’s where the similarities end. 

Kemp said in a Tuesday interview with WSB-TV that he stands by the state’s new election rules.  

“I knew what was coming from the other side. I knew that they were going to try to do this boycott, cancel culture, and everything else,” Kemp said in a Tuesday interview with WSB-TV. “And I wanted to get out in front of that and get the bill signed and let people know what was in it.”

Jackson was unmoved by Kemp’s opinion. 

“What is ridiculous is you thinking that the citizens of Georgia, especially Black and Brown voters are going to accept this without a fight,” Jackson said. “We hope that the corporate community will prove Republicans in Georgia and across the country ridiculous for thinking that they would be silent and not join with us to oppose it.”

 According to the press release, Jackson says his group is eager to attract Black and Brown citizens, along with all Americans who are committed to freedom and equality, and protecting and strengthening this democracy to boycott.

“These companies have a corporate responsibility to oppose anything that threatens to make it harder for people to vote. Many companies failed this responsibility, and consumers must now hold them accountable,” the release said.

Jackson says their hope is to meet virtually with the Chairman and CEOs of the mentioned companies by Monday or Tuesday of next week to discuss the issues, to get them to change their positions, and to do four things to win the confidence of American citizens and to halt the passage of any legislation that seeks to suppress the vote of Black and Brown citizens. These four things, if accomplished, will end the boycott: 

  1. Publicly, possibly through a press conference announce their opposition to SB 202 and seek to have the legislation reconsidered.
  2. To speak out against legislation proposed in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Texas and other states with the intent to suppress the votes of Black and Brown voters. The Republicans have launched a national campaign to suppress votes and make it harder for Black and Brown people to vote. There are 361 bills to restrict voting rights in 47 states. These companies which are national and international must be engaged in a national effort to defeat this attempt. They have the resources to wage an effective campaign to fight these bills. 
  3. Publicly express these companies’ support of HR 1 (For the People Act) and HR 4, (Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019) federal legislation which blocks much of what has passed in Georgia and is included in state legislation.
  4. Support litigation against SB 202 seeking to have legislation ruled unconstitutional.

Additionally, Jackson’s release names more companies that have a Georgia presence in their call to boycott. They are AT&T, Aflac, Georgia Power, and the United Bank of Switzerland (UBS). Jackson says they will be included in their meeting next week.

In addition, the collective of Faith-Based Leaders are committed to accomplishing four directives: First, engaging Black legislative causes across America while launching a Strategic Direct Action Campaign. Secondly, they are seeking to establish message discipline for an upcoming national campaign. Next, they will include National Civil Rights Organizations as supporters of the Boycott, eliciting the support of the National NAACP, National Action Network, Southern Christian Leadership Conference and National Urban League. Lastly, these Faith-Based Leaders plan to reach out to leaders of the Black Greek Letter Organizations that are part of the Divine Nine, Masons and Eastern Stars.

“Our focus is on a corporate boycott,” said Jackson. “Each individual makes a decision not to purchase or spend their dollars with any of the boycotted corporations. Engaging with other efforts would only serve to divide and distract. Those who choose to boycott the film industry, sports, and other areas are free to choose as they decide and we do not criticize them. Our focus is corporate responsibility and accountability.” 

Note: Montgomery is a member of Big Bethel AME Church on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta. Senior Pastor Rev. John Foster was contacted for comment regarding this story. He did not respond to our inquiry. 

African Methodist Episcopal Church Bishop Reginald Jackson announces a boycott of Coca-Cola Co. products outside the Georgia Capitol on Thursday, March 25, 2021. Jackson says Coca-Cola and other large Georgia companies haven’t done enough to oppose restrictive voting bills that Georgia lawmakers were debating as Jackson spoke (AP Photo/Jeff Amy)

Dawn has ascended through the ranks at the The Atlanta Voice. Starting out as Sports Editor in 2017, Montgomery currently serves as the Chief Brand Officer. Montgomery earned a Bachelor's degree from Oglethorpe...

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