Coca-cola billboard
An abseiler unveils the new Coca-Cola advertising hoarding at dawn in Piccadilly Circus in London, September 30, 2003

Peter Macdiarmid/Reuters

  • The pressure follows the two bills Republican lawmakers have put forward in the Georgia State Senate.
  • Civil rights and voter advocacy groups believe Black voters would be disproportionately affected.
  • They have called for companies to stop donations to politicians backing the bills and speak out against them.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Calls for Coca-Cola to be boycotted in its home state of Georgia have been triggered by plans for new voting restrictions that President Joe Biden has condemned as "Jim Crow in the 21st century."

The drinks' giant's boycott is being led by the AME Sixth Episcopal District of Georgia, which includes over 500 Black churches. Coca-Cola's headquarters is in Atlanta.

Bishop Reginald Jackson told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution on Friday: "Coca-Cola wants Black and brown people to drink their product; then they must speak up when our rights, our lives, and our very democracy as we know it is under attack."

Republican lawmakers have put forward two bills in the State Senate which would repeal 'no-excuse absentee voting,' impose new voter identification requirements, ban out-of-precinct voting, limit the use of ballot drop boxes, make it illegal to approach voters in line to give them food and water and shorten the absentee voting window.

Stacey Abrams, a Georgia Democratic power broker, said they would disproportionately affect historically marginalized voters, including young people, the disabled community, and other minority groups.

Civil rights and voter advocacy groups believe Black voters, who account for 30% of Georgia's electorate, would be particularly affected by the proposals, especially regarding 'souls to the polls' events used heavily by Black churches to encourage Sunday voting.

Black voters and voters of color were key to helping Joe Biden win the presidential election in November and two Democratic senators in the state's January run-offs, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

A rally was held outside the state Captiol on Thursday when Georgia's Governor Brian Kemp signed the 95-page omnibus bill.

Speaking at the event, Jackson added: "This past summer, Coke and other corporations said they needed to speak out against racism. But they've been mighty quiet about this. We're not going to stand with folk who don't stand with us."

Read more: 16 giant advertisers from Coca-Cola to Nestlé that are scrambling to hire ad agencies, and who could win the business

The coalition, which includes The New Georgia Project, Georgia STAND-UP, the Georgia NAACP, and Black Voters Matter, also held a 'die-in' in front of Coca-Cola's Atlanta headquarters on Monday.

Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project, told The Guardian that following the responses from companies during the Black Lives Matter protests last summer: "It makes me wonder whether or not they were doing it for clout. This feels like these are the character moments when you get to see … whether or not they walk their talk."

Coca-Cola Boycott
Bishop Reginald Jackson announces a boycott of Coca-Cola products outside the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta on March 25, 2021.

Jeff Amy/AP Photo

The groups also took out several full-page ads in local newspapers urging Coca-Cola, Delta, Southern Company, Home Depot, UPS, and Aflac to stop the donations to politicians backing voting restrictions and support federal voting rights reform instead.

According to the independent newsletter Popular Information, since 2018, companies have donated $7.4 million, including $34,750 from Coca-Cola, at least $41,600 from Delta Airlines, $34,500 from UPS, $38,700 from Southern Company, and $7,250 from Aflac.

Coca-Cola said it paused political donations after the Capitol riot, Reuters reported, while Delta added that it had not made any contributions to Georgia House or Senate candidates in 2020.

Republicans say the proposed changes to the voting system are required for election integrity following the Capitol riot.

Coca-Cola previously tweeted its response to the voting restrictions but it has not been considered strong enough.

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