The letter spoke for many by expressed a blunt truth: “There is no middle ground here,” he said. “You either are for more people voting, or you want to suppress the vote.” Other high-profile signers of the letter included Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck, Melody Hobson, the co-chief executive of Ariel Partners and Robert F. Smith, the billionaire CEO of Vista Equity Partners.
Meanwhile, as this letter, the corporate statements and the continuing calls for corporate boycotts in Georgia demonstrate, Atlanta — the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — remains a site of historic movements for racial justice. King’s voting rights legacy hovers over Georgia and the entire nation, punctuated most recently by the Senate runoff election victories of Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. Warnock’s victory proved especially sweet as he presides over Dr. King’s former pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of the “fierce urgency of now” in the context of the need for America to overcome its tragic racial and political history by confronting it truthfully, with love and justice, in public. Over a half-century later, the fact that this sentiment is being expressed by Black business leaders and CEOs bears witness to the extraordinary political crisis this nation continues to face. It also exemplifies the importance, now more than ever, of speaking truth to power about issues that transcend partisanship, ideology and politics to occupy the very recesses of the American soul.