Black executives urge corporations to fight restrictive voting laws: NYT By Reuters

© Reuters. American Express Chairman and CEO Chenault gestures during the White House summit on cybersecurity and consumer protection in Palo Alto

(Reuters) – Dozens of Black executives at U.S. companies, including Merck & Co Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Frazier, are calling on corporations to push back against a wave of new restrictive voting-rights bills, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

The campaign is being led by Frazier and former American Express (NYSE:) CEO Kenneth Chenault, according to the Times, and comes in the wake of Georgia’s new voting restrictions, which sharply limited the use of ballot drop boxes and made it a misdemeanor to offer food and water to voters waiting in line.

Civil rights groups have launched legal fights against the new laws, arguing that the measures are intended to make it harder for people – particularly Black voters – to cast ballots.

Atlanta-based corporations Delta Air Lines Inc (NYSE:) and Coca-Cola (NYSE:) Co have faced boycott calls from activists who say they need to do more to oppose the law.

The executives did not criticize specific companies, but called on all of corporate America to publicly oppose new laws that would restrict the rights of Black voters, and to use their clout, money and lobbyists to sway the debate with lawmakers, according to the Times.

A letter supporting the campaign was signed by 72 Black executives including former Xerox (NYSE:) CEO Ursula Burns, former Citigroup (NYSE:) chairman Richard Parsons (NYSE:) and Uber (NYSE:) Chief Legal Officer Tony West, the report added. The group of leaders, with support from the Black Economic Alliance, bought a full-page ad in the Wednesday edition of The New York Times.

Coca-Cola has said it was disappointed with the outcome in Georgia and would press for improvements to election laws, while Delta said it has engaged with elected officials to express its views about a fair and secure election process.

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