A grand coalition of black faith leaders in Georgia, representing more than 1,000 churches in the state, will call for a boycott of Home Depot Tuesday, arguing that the company has given up its responsibilities as a good corporate citizen by failing to accept the responsibility of the state has pushed back new electoral law.
Calling for a boycott led by Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, who oversees all 534 African Methodist episcopal churches in Georgia, is one of the first major steps to put companies under significant economic pressure to stand up to Republican efforts in Georgia and Georgia to put across the country to impose new restrictions on voting.
“We don’t think this is simply a political matter,” Bishop Jackson said in an interview. “This is a matter of securing the future of this democracy and the greatest right in this democracy is the right to vote.”
Mr. Jackson, Home Depot, said, “There has been an indifference, a lack of response to calls, not just from clergy, but from other groups to speak out against this legislation.”
While boycotts can be a challenge that puts significant financial pressure on large corporations, the call nonetheless marks a new phase in the struggle for the right to vote in Georgia, where many democrats and civil rights groups are reluctant to support boycotts and risk unfair collateral damage to workers of the company.
However, pointing to the use of boycotts in the civil rights movement when the rights of black voters were threatened, the Coalition of Faith leaders said their call to action was intended as a “warning shot” for other state lawmakers.
“This is not just a Georgia question. We are talking about a democracy in America that is under threat, ”said Rev. Timothy McDonald III, pastor of the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta. “We must use every leverage and force we have, including our dollars, to help people understand that this is a national campaign.”
Home Depot is headquartered in Georgia and is one of the largest employers in the state. While other major Georgian corporations like Coca-Cola and Delta have spoken out against the state’s new electoral law, Home Depot has not and only made a statement this month that “the most appropriate approach for us is our conviction further emphasize that all elections should be accessible, fair and safe. “
One of the company’s founders, Arthur Blank, said in a conversation with fellow executives earlier this month that he supports voting rights. Another founder, Ken Langone, is a supporter of former President Donald J. Trump.
Mr Jackson said Home Depot’s religious leaders called for four specific measures: speak out against Georgia electoral law, publicly oppose similar bills in other states, offer support for the John Lewis Suffrage Act in Congress, and assist in litigation against Georgian law.
Not all constituencies are on board with a boycott.
“I cannot fully support a boycott in Georgia,” said Aunna Dennis, executive director of the Georgia chapter of Common Cause. “The boycott hurts the person of the working class. But companies need to be held accountable for where they put their dollars. “
Faith leaders recognized the concerns of Democratic and Republican leaders about the effects of boycotts, but felt the stakes were high enough.
“It is unfortunate for those who will be affected, but how many millions will be affected if they do not have the right to vote?” said Jamal H. Bryant, the senior pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga.
“And so, when we weigh up, we understand, tongue in cheek, that this is a necessary evil,” said Dr. Bryant. “But it has to happen for the good to happen.”