Statement from AME Bishop Reginald Jackson
“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, Aflack, 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. I drink Coca-Cola products, especially Dasani water, Barq’s Root Beer and Sprite. My wife spends a lot of money at Home Depot. 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.

“We will vigilantly and strongly seek to get Black and Brown citizens, and all Americans who are committed to freedom and equality, and to protecting and strengthening this democracy to boycott, to not give our money to support companies that do not support us. These companies have a corporate responsibility to oppose anything that threatens to make it harder for people to vote. Many corporate companies failed this responsibility, and consumers must now hold them accountable.

“We have scheduled the boycott to begin on Wednesday, April 7th. This is for a particular reason. It is our hope to meet virtually with the Chairman/CEO’s of these companies Monday or Tuesday of next week to discuss this matter, to get them to change their positions, and to do four things to win the confidence of American citizens and to halt passage of any legislation that seeks to suppress the vote of Black and Brown citizens. These four things will cause us to end the boycott.

“We take note of the fact that on yesterday the Chief Executives of Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola both spoke out and declared their opposition to these bills and declared them unacceptable. It is also noted that they didn’t speak out until after the bill was passed and until the threat of a boycott. In fact used our very words that “the bill was based on a lie.” While we are appreciative of this recognition we also acknowledge that for Georgia it is too little too late. There is no way that these leaders did not know that this legislation was based on a lie. In light of these leaders public comments yesterday the question has been raised will we still boycott these companies. The answer is yes.

“On yesterday afternoon Mr. James Quincey, Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola had his office reach out to arrange a virtual meeting with me. He is in the United Kingdom. Several of us met with him and Coca-Cola Executives for about an hour. It was a very candid and frank meeting. I expressed to Mr. Quincey our disappointment and anger over Coca-Cola’s failure to speak out publicly against these bills and to be indifferent to what was seeking to be done to Black and Brown people. Mr. Quincey responded that Coca-Cola had meetings with legislators on both sides of the aisle and expressed concerns about some parts of the legislation. We are also pleased that Mr. Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Airlines has spoken out against SB 202. It is unfortunate that Delta like Coca-Cola did not speak out publicly, and even praised parts of the bill.  In order for us not to boycott Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines and other companies there are four things that each of the companies must agree to do. Those things are:

  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.

“If they commit and act to do these things we will end the boycott.

“There are other Georgia companies that have not spoken out against this legislation. We will reach out to and urge them to come out publicly against these bills that seek to suppress Black and Brown votes. If they do not we will plan to boycott them. They are AT+Y, Aflac, Georgia Power and United Bank of Switzerland(UBS). We will try to include them in our meeting next week. They too must do the four things listed above.

“We are prepared to do what we must do to inform the nation about this boycott and make it effective. This includes:

  1. Engage Black Legislative Causes across the nation and a Strategic Direct Action Campaign
  2. Establish Message Discipline for a National Campaign
  3. Include National Civil Rights Organizations as supporters of the Boycott. They include National NAACP, National Action Network, Southern Christian Leadership Conference and National Urban League.
  4. We will also reach out to the Divine Nine, Masons and Eastern Stars.

“Our focus is on a corporate boycott. Each individual makes a decision not to purchase or spend their dollars with any of the boycotted corporations. To engage 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.

“Beginning April 7th we urge every Black, Brown and American citizen committed to ensuring that every eligible American is able to exercise their right to vote, boycotts corporations that don’t publicly speak out against legislation that seeks to suppress our votes.

“Let me also address Gov. Kemp regarding this matter. Yesterday he said that any talk of a boycott in the midst of a pandemic is absolutely ridiculous. Well Governor it is no more ridiculous than the legislature passing and you signing a bill that you know and admitted is based on a lie. It is no more ridiculous than you stating that the bill expands voting rights, when you know it reduces the time and makes it harder to cast absentee ballots. It is no more ridiculous than moving ballot drop boxes inside meaning if you get off work after five you cannot cast your ballot. And to make it even harder you have reduced the number of ballot drop boxes. Most counties are allowed to have only one drop box. Fulton County the largest county in size and population in the state with over 800,000 voters is allowed to have only five ballot drop boxes. It is no more ridiculous than the legislature passing and you signing a bill that makes it a crime to give people who have been standing in line for hours water or a snack. And it is definitely no more ridiculous than the legislature passing and you signing a bill that gives a partisan state election commission the authority to take over County Election Boards with the authority to change election results, dismissing the will of the voters. What is ridiculous is you thinking that the citizens of Georgia, especially Black and Brown voters are going to accept this without a fight. 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.