Ryan Coogler has decided to move forward with filming the “Black Panther 2” movie in Georgia despite the new restrictive voting laws. On Friday, April 16, he wrote an op-ed statement for Shadow and Act, condemning Georgia’s new voting laws while also explaining what he plans to do to help.
“The fight for full enfranchisement is fundamental to the African-American struggle in this country and to this country’s claim to functioning democracy. As an African-American, and as a citizen, I oppose all attempts, explicit and otherwise, to shrink the electorate and reduce access to the ballot,” he said. He went on to explain that while Georgia has a “special place in my heart,” he is “profoundly disappointed” in the passage of SB202.
Gov. Brian Kemp signed SB202 in March. Since that time, many people have voiced concerns about some of the provisions such as making it a crime for a non-election worker to pass out food or water to voters waiting in line to vote; reducing the number of ballot drop boxes; and requiring voters who mail in ballots to provide a driver’s license or state ID number or a photocopy of another accepted form of ID.
Coogler went on to say that he paired up with voting rights activists to get more educated on the law before deciding to act on it, and once he realized that many of his employers would be negatively affected by the SB202 laws he had to do something. He said although he won’t boycott Georgia, he will take other actions. “What I will be doing is using my voice to emphasize the effects of SB202, its shameful roots in Jim Crow, and doing all I can to support organizations fighting voter suppression here in the state.”
His solution is to “raise awareness about ways to help overturn this harmful bill and continue to get educated on this matter from people on the ground. I will encourage everyone working with me to tap in with the local community directly affected by Senate Bill 202 and to leverage their influence and resources to aid in the fight for this particular and essential pillar of democracy.”
Like Coogler, Will Smith has addressed the new suppressive voting laws, but Smith and Antoine Fuqua have decided to not film their “Emancipation” movie in Georgia as a way of protest. In a joint statement they said, “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.”