Former American Express CEO Ken Chenault, Merck CEO Ken Frazier, and 70 other Black executives wrote an open letter to corporate America, demanding that they take action against GOP legislation that restricts voting access in at least 43 states.
“Fundamentally, if you can’t oppose this legislation — that’s the lifeblood for Black Americans, the right to vote. We can’t be silent, and corporate America can’t be silent. And if they can’t speak out on this issue, what can they speak out on,” Chenault said during an interview on CNBC.
“There is no middle ground here,” Mr. Chenault said. “You either are for more people voting, or you want to suppress the vote.”
ACLU, NAACP, Southern Poverty Law Center, and many other organizations filed lawsuits against Georgia for its new law that restricts access to voting. Activists want people to boycott Atlanta-based corporations like Coco-Colo Co. and Delta Airlines for not speaking out against the new law that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed.
“Corporations have to stand up — there is no middle ground,” Chenault said. “This is about all Americans having the right to vote. But we need to recognize the special history of the denial of the right to vote for Black Americans. And we will not be silent.”
Delta Airlines CEO, Ed Bastian, issued a memo to employees criticizing the new law.
“I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values,” Bastian said. “The entire rationale for the bill was based on a lie.”
According to Wall Street Journal, Coca-Cola Chief Executive James Quincey said the company was always against the legislation that Gov. Kemp signed.
Gov. Kemp responded to Delta Airlines’ memo.
“At no point did Delta share any opposition to expanding early voting, strengthening voter ID measures, increasing the use of secure drop boxes statewide, and making it easier for local elections officials to administer elections — which is exactly what this bill does.”
“The last time I flew Delta, I had to present my photo ID. Today’s statement by Delta CEO Ed Bastian stands in stark contrast to our conversation with the company, ignores the content of the new law, and unfortunately continues to spread the same false attacks being repeated by partisan activists.”
Former Chief Executive of Black Entertainment Television, Debra Lee, signed the open letter as well.
“We have to rely on allies. It shouldn’t be one Black person in the room,” Lee said. “Everyone has to speak up.
Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, released a statement on Tuesday affirming his company’s commitment to voting rights.
“Voting is fundamental to the health and future of our democracy,” he said. “We regularly encourage our employees to exercise their fundamental right to vote, and we stand against efforts that may prevent them from being able to do so.”
"This is a call for action," says Ken Chenault. "What we have heard from corporations is general statements about their support for voting rights and against voter suppression. But now we are asking put those words into action." pic.twitter.com/CWo4CrB9ET
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) March 31, 2021