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Black Business Leaders Join Forces To Fight Restrictive Voting Bills

Black Business Leaders Join Forces To Fight Restrictive Voting Bills

They are presenting a united front!

Black business leaders have joined forces to fight restrictive voting bills, Essence reports.

Recently, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill into law that would restrict voting rights, including voting by mail and increasing legislative control around how elections are run. The law is seen as an attempt to disenfranchise voters of color following a historic turnout of Black voters in the state and efforts by organizers who effectively turned the state blue. President Joe Biden has called the bill “un-American” and “Jim Crow in the 21st Century,” and Stacey Abrams has said it is flat-out racist. 

Now, more than 70 Black business executives have joined forces to fight back against the bill. Spearheaded by former American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault, the coalition is focused on calling other corporations to the floor to “publicly oppose any discriminatory legislation and all measures designed to limit Americans’ ability to vote.”

Chenault has gained a large amount of support already from several prominent business leaders, including former Xerox CEO and Uber board member Ursula Burns, M&T Bank Chair and CEO Rene F. Jones, Google executive Bonita C. Stewart, TIAA CEO Roger Ferguson Jr., former Citi executive, and New York City mayoral candidate Raymond McGuire, and Richard Parsons, former Obama economic advisor and Time Warner CEO.

“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. We call upon our colleagues in Corporate America to join us in taking a non-partisan stand for equality and democracy. Each of us stands ready to work with you on what can and must be done,” a letter from the executives reads. 

Chenault spoke about the importance of unification among corporations at this moment, saying, “there is no middle ground here. You either are for more people voting, or you want to suppress the vote.”

Kenneth Frazier, chief executive of Merck, has worked alongside Chenault to organize the leaders. He spoke with the New York Times, saying it is imperative that business executives step up at this moment. 

“There seems to be no one speaking out. We thought if we spoke up, it might lead to a situation where others felt the responsibility to speak up...The Georgia legislature was the first one. If corporate American doesn’t stand up, we’ll get these laws passed in many places in this country...As African-American business executives, we don’t have the luxury of being bystanders to injustice. We don’t have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines when these kinds of injustices are happening all around us.”

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Photo Courtesy of Justin Sullivan/Spencer Platt/Getty Images/New York Times