The fallout from Georgia legislators passing SB 202, a package of new voting laws that some are referring to as ushering in a new Jim Crow era, has only just begun, and already the state has lost out on a major film production.
Actor Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua were slated to begin filming for “Emancipation” on June 21, but that is no longer the case. In a joint statement, Smith and Fuqua said providing economic support to Georgia is not in alignment with the country moving in a forward direction.
“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,” said Smith and Fuqua’s statement. “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 film is about “Whipped Peter,” a slave who found refuge with the Union Army during the Civil War after running away from a St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, plantation. A photograph of Peter’s scarred and keloid-covered back was shared with newspapers around the country in 1863 to bolster support for abolishing slavery.
The Republican-backed law was signed by Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp last month. The sweeping elections law now requires voters to show ID to obtain an absentee ballot, shortens hours when absentee ballot drop boxes can be used, reduces the number of drop boxes in large counties, and criminalizes passing out food and beverages to those waiting in line to cast a ballot. Some argue the new voting restrictions are a meant to block Black votes and further secure Republican voting power in the historically red state.
Aside from losing its first major production of the year, Georgia also lost hosting duties for the MLB All-Star Game.
On social media people’s reactions on the “Emancipation” production being pulled from Georgia are mixed.
“Let’s not put people out of work. Don’t punish those who didn’t vote for this.”
“BLACK EXCELLENCE in action”
“I live in Ga… I don’t want to live in a poor state, but I don’t want to live in a racist state even more”
“I’m sad for the people in Georgia but I do think that their governments actions do merit consequences.”
Similarly the state saw boycotts by productions companies and actors in 2019 when legislators proposed the Heartbeat bill, an anti-abortion law. The law was signed in May of that year by Gov. Kemp and gave women up until six weeks to terminate a pregnancy.
Two months later a federal judge ruled the law was unconstitutional per the 14th Amendment and the decision in Roe v. Wade in 1992.
Judge Steve C. Jones said, “It is in the public interest, and is this court’s duty, to ensure constitutional rights are protected.”
Georgia’s new voting laws are already facing several court challenges.