Will Smith, LeBron James, John Legend and more stars are speaking out against Georgia’s controversial new law that could make it harder for Black residents to vote.
Ever since Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, 57, signed the controversial voting bill SB 202 – backed by Republicans and passed in the statehouse on a party-line vote – into law on Mar. 25, there’s been a massive outcry about how it could likely suppress Black voters. The new law cuts down on times for advanced voting, requires an ID for an absentee ballot and forbids volunteers from providing food or water to voters waiting for hours in long lines. As a result, many celebrities have come out against SB 202.
Emancipation, an upcoming movie about a man running away from slavery, will no longer be filming in Georgia in response to the state’s new voting laws. Will Smith, who is starring in the drama film, and Antoine Fuqua, who is directing the feature, explained why they’re changing the shoot location in a statement provided to Deadline on April 12, 2021: “At this moment in time, the Nation is coming to terms with its history and is attempting to eliminate vestiges of institutional racism to achieve true racial justice. We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access. The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting. Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state.” The movie will “likely” film in Louisiana now, according to Deadline.
NBA superstar LeBron James recently became a part owner of the Boston Red Sox MLB team, and cheered on the league’s decision to move the 2021 All-Star game out of Atlanta in protest of the new law. The game will now take place at Denver’s Coors Field. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said the decision to move the All-Star Game was “the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport” in protest over GA’s restrictive new voting law. As a result, LeBron tweeted on Apr. 2, “Proud to call myself a part of the @mlb family today,” adding, “@Morethanavote #BlackLivesMatter.”
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 2, 2021
Singer John Legend also commended MLB’s decision, and also pointed out claims that then Secretary of State Kemp — who oversaw elections — allegedly “stole” the 2018 gubernatorial election from Democrat Stacey Abrams. “Governor Kemp is a liar who had to cheat while overseeing his own race to attain his position. He’s learned that the best way to win elections is to rig the game. He’s being exposed as the underhanded anti-democratic operator he always has been. Thank you @MLB for taking a stand,” Legend tweeted on Apr. 2.
Governor Kemp is a liar who had to cheat while overseeing his own race to attain his position. He’s learned that the best way to win elections is to rig the game. He’s being exposed as the underhanded anti-democratic operator he always has been. Thank you @MLB for taking a stand https://t.co/BkQgRD1rZT
— John Legend (@johnlegend) April 3, 2021
Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi immediately called out the Georgia voting law on Mar. 26 shortly after Kemp signed the bill:
Last year 1.3 million Georgians voted absentee by mail.
There is ZERO EVIDENCE of widespread voter fraud in Georgia.
Kemp's law is a desperate attempt to disenfranchise millions of voters because his party lost both runoff elections in January.
It will be struck down.
— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) March 26, 2021
Actor/Director Edward Norton called those behind SB202 “racists” in a tweet showing a photo of the white men who previously didn’t want to wear face masks during the threat of COVID-19, masked up to hide their faces as Gov. Kemp signed the controversial bill into law.
These guys also played down Covid and mocked wearing masks. So I’m thinking maybe they are wearing them here because they know it’s better to hide their faces from the historical record, which will document them as the racists they are. https://t.co/JsT6meXvdA
— Edward Norton (@EdwardNorton) March 26, 2021
Actress and activist Alyssa Milano pointed out how it’s not just Georgia but numerous other Republican controlled statehouses that are looking to enact stricter voting laws, especially after the 2020 election saw previously red or swing states such as Georgia, Arizona and Nevada flip Democrat blue.
Across the country, over 250 pieces of voter suppression legislation have been introduced in state legislatures. It is not only Georgia. Make no mistake, this is a concerted Republican effort.
As Democrats, we must never stop fighting to protect voting rights.
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) March 31, 2021
After they lost the Georgia runoffs, the GOP introduced hundreds of anti-voter bills across the country.
Let's build momentum together to pass the #ForThePeopleAct and protect voting rights at the FEDERAL level.
Learn how you can help: https://t.co/8neRtdbtsW
— Julia Louis-Dreyfus (@OfficialJLD) April 7, 2021
Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus also pointed out how the GOP is introducing voter suppression bills in other states, after the Georgia election for president and their two open U.S. Senate seats went to Democrats in incredibly close races. She also linked out to mobilize.us which is providing information, virtual events and more in honor of “For the People Week of Action” taking place Apr. 5-9.