Despite all the rhetoric about Georgia’s voter integrity law being the “new Jim Crow” and an egregious affront to human rights, the production for “Black Panther II” will not be moving out of the Peach State.
In an op-ed published in Shadow and Act, director Ryan Coogler harshly condemned the law in Georgia while simultaneously resisting the urge to boycott the state.
“The fight for full enfranchisement is fundamental to the African-American struggle in this country and to this country’s claim to functioning democracy,” he began. “As an African-American, and as a citizen, I oppose all attempts, explicit and otherwise, to shrink the electorate and reduce access to the ballot. I say this as I return to Georgia, a state that holds a special place in my heart. I lived in Atlanta for eight months while filming my last movie. I have long looked forward to returning. But, when I was informed of the passage of SB202 in the state, and its ramifications for the state’s voters, I was profoundly disappointed.”
“While I wished to turn my concern into action, I could not do so without first being educated on the specifics of Georgia,” he continued. “Having now spoken with voting rights activists in the state, I have come to understand that many of the people employed by my film, including all the local vendors and businesses we engage, are the very same people who will bear the brunt of SB202. For those reasons, I will not be engaging in a boycott of Georgia. 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.”
Coogler then listed the many features of Georgia’s voter integrity bill; he did not explain how any of them might specifically target black Americans (many of whom actually support the measures put in place). Though he will not be moving production out of Georgia, he held firm to his commitment to fight the law.
“Our film [Black Panther II] is staying in Georgia,” he concluded. “Additionally, I have made a personal commitment to raise awareness about ways to help overturn this harmful bill, and continue to get educated on this matter from people on the ground. I will encourage everyone working with me to tap in with the local community directly affected by Senate Bill 202 and to leverage their influence and resources to aid in the fight for this particular and essential pillar of democracy.”
In a statement to Newsweek, Fair Fight, the voter organization founded by Stacey Abrams, told Hollywood to “stay and fight” the new law as opposed to boycotting the state.
“Brian Kemp and Georgia Republican lawmakers are singularly responsible for any job that is lost and any dollar that goes out of Georgia, because they prioritized suppressing voters of color over the economic well-being of all Georgians,” Fair Fight spokesman Seth Bringman told Newsweek.
“We urge events, productions, and businesses to come to Georgia and support the very communities that will [sic] whose access to the ballot will be hurt by Senate Bill 202. Come to Georgia and speak out against voter suppression. Stay and fight,” the statement added.
Earlier this week, actor Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua announced that they would be moving production of the upcoming runaway slave thriller “Emancipation” from the state of Georgia to Louisiana, costing an estimated $15 million in taxes.
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