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Georgia's Black clergymen urge Coca-Cola boycott over voting laws overhaul

White House response to Georgia voting law
White House response to Georgia voting law 07:08

Coca-Cola should be boycotted until the Atlanta-based company publicly opposes the Georgia's newly passed voting laws, a group of prominent local Black clergymen said. The group urged a similar boycott against large companies with Peach State headquarters and major regional operations, including Aflac, Delta Airlines, Home Depot and UPS.

Georgia's controversial overhaul of state elections, passed last week, places restrictions on voting by mail and gives the legislature more control over how elections are run. The new law requires a photo ID when mailing in an absentee ballot as well as when requesting a ballot. It also it cuts the time people have to request an absentee ballot. 

Democrats and voting rights groups said the law will disproportionately affect voters of color.

Bishop Reginald Jackson, who leads a group of more than 500 African Methodist Episcopal churches in Georgia, is one of many local Black leaders who have condemned the voting law changes. Jackson said Coca-Cola, one of the state's largest employers, hasn't spoken out against the changes and that means Black and Latino consumers need to "speak with our wallets."

If "Coca-Cola wants Black and brown people to drink their product, then they must speak up when our rights, our lives and our very democracy as we know it is under attack," Jackson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

"This past summer, Coke and other corporations said they needed to speak out against racism, but they've been mighty quiet about this," Jackson said during a rally last Thursday in Atlanta.

Coca-Cola said in a statement last week that it "sought improvements that would enhance accessibility, maximize voter participation, maintain election integrity and serve all Georgians." The company will continue to "strive for improvements aimed at promoting and protecting the right to vote in our home state and elsewhere," Coca-Cola said.

Delta said in a statement the company spent the past few weeks telling state lawmakers "that Georgia must have a fair and secure election process with broad voter participation and equal access to the polls." Now that the changes have passed, Delta understands that "concerns remain over other provisions in the legislation, and there continues to be work ahead in this important effort," the airline company said. 

Home Depot and UPS have not publicly commented on the voting changes. Aflac said it is supporting "fairness and justice."

Georgia's election changes are part of several Republican-backed bills being introduced nationwide after former President Trump falsely insisted that voting fraud led to his 2020 defeat against Joe Biden. President Biden called the latest bills "un-American" and "sick" during a news conference last week.

Prominent leaders, including Savannah mayor Van Johnson, vowed to no longer patronize major Georgia companies following the voting law changes. Johnson tweeted that he is re-evaluating his relationships with Delta, Home Depot and UPS. Film director James Mangold tweeted that he won't work on any films in Georgia because of new voting laws.

Voter rights groups are also pushing the Professional Golfers Association and Major League Baseball to cancel major events they have scheduled in Georgia. The PGA's Master's tournament is scheduled for next month in Augusta while MLB's All-Star Game is scheduled for July in Atlanta. 

The MLB Players Association is "open" to discussing a possible All-Star Game relocation, CBS Sports reported. The PGA hasn't said whether it's considering moving the Masters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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