There have been a lot of conversations about how Corporate America and Hollywood would respond to Georgia’s new Election Integrity Act (SB202) that was signed into law by Republican Governor Brian Kemp on March 25. Voting rights advocates say the legislation was designed to suppress Democratic-leaning voters, particularly African-Americans.
Major League Baseball decided to move this year’s All-Star Game out of the Atlanta area in response to SB202. Will Smith recently revealed he is relocating the production of his upcoming film, Emancipation, out of the state in protest of what the actor/producer called “regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access.”
In contrast, Black Panther 2 director Ryan Cooglar announced that he will not take part in a boycott of Georgia. Cooglar stated, “What I will be doing is using my voice to emphasize the effects of SB202, its shameful roots in Jim Crow, and doing all I can to support organizations fighting voter suppression here in the state.”
Atlanta-raised rap star Lil Yachty was asked for his opinion on Georgia’s new Republican-backed voting laws and the possible effect a business boycott will have on pressuring lawmakers to revise the act. The 23-year-old entertainer expressed doubt that money leaving the state will actually lead to change.
“I don’t think that really plays much of a role. I think if they wanna do it, they gonna do it. But if they don’t, I don’t think that’s gonna change their opinion,” Yachty told a TMZ cameraman.
When asked if he is worried about Georgia’s economy being hurt by a boycott, Yachty responded, “I don’t know how long that will be that way. It’s so much going on in Atlanta, things will continue to thrive. Especially with a lot of film coming down there. Big studios are opening up. I don’t worry too much about that.”
Georgia has picked up the moniker of “Hollywood of the South.” Numerous movies and television shows are filmed in the state. In 2016, more major feature films were reportedly made in Georgia than in California. That same year the film industry spent a reported $2 billion in the state which created an estimated $7 billion economic boost.
Bernice King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter and the CEO of Atlanta’s Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, called on businesses not to leave Georgia. On March 25, King tweeted, “Please stop the #BoycottGeorgia talk. That would hurt middle-class workers and people grappling with poverty. And it would increase the harm of both racism and classism.”
Major Georgia-headquartered corporations like Delta and Coca-Cola have denounced the state’s Election Integrity Act. President Joe Biden called SB202 “an atrocity” and referred to it as “new Jim Crow laws.” Biden also stated that a Georgia boycott could hurt hourly workers and suggested Georgia legislators need to “smarten up.”
Please stop the #BoycottGeorgia talk. That would hurt middle class workers and people grappling with poverty. And it would increase the harm of both racism and classism.
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) March 26, 2021