Former American Express CEO Ken Chenault, who led a group of dozens of Black corporate executives urging more corporations to speak out against Georgia’s new voting law, on Sunday decried the Major League Baseball’s move to relocate its All-Star Game and 2021 draft out of Atlanta in response to the legislation’s restrictive provisions.
Appearing on CNN, Chenault was asked whether the MLB made the right decision in moving its All-Star game and draft out of Atlanta.
Chenault replied that the issue of voting rights restrictions isn’t only limited to Georgia, pointing to other proposals in 43 states, before saying that he and other Black executives who signed the open letter condemning the new voting law disagree with the MLB’s decision.
“With respect to Major League Baseball taking the action to move the All-Star game, it really is a direct consequence of the action taken by the Georgia legislature to restrict voting,” Chenault said. “I want to be clear that our group does not favor boycotts.”
Chenault stressed that the group of Black corporate executives demanded that corporations publicly oppose legislation that works to restrict voting access.
Chenault reiterated that he finds the MLB’s decision “unfortunate,” but can understand its move.
“But we certainly wish it did not have to happen,” Cheunault said. “But what we need to focus on in America is the fundamental right to vote. We cannot compromise on that right.”
Asked whether pressure needed to come from Black executives like himself in order for the rest of corporate America to speak out against the new Georgia law, Chenault said that it wasn’t necessary, but that Black executives had an obligation to do so.
“A fundamental right to vote is critical, but the path to the right to vote for Black Americans has been torturous. And voting is very, very precious,” Chenault said. “So this is about all Americans, but we felt as black Americans given the history and the struggles to gain the right to vote that we could not remain silent. And we are very encouraged by the response that we’re getting from our colleagues in corporate America who recognize that this is all about preserving the American democracy because voting is the life blood of a democracy.”
Chenault’s remarks come a day after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) accused the MLB of submitting to “fear and lies” by depriving Georgians of a paycheck after it decided to pull its All-Star Game out of Atlanta over the state’s new voting law.
“Yesterday, Major League Baseball caved to fear and lies from liberal activists,” Kemp said at a news conference on Saturday. “In the middle of a pandemic, Major League Baseball put the wishes of Stacey Abrams and Joe Biden ahead of the economic well-being of hard-working Georgians who were counting on the All-Star Game for a paycheck.”
Abrams, however, expressed her disappointment with the MLB’s decision the day before Kemp’s news conference, but commended the league for speaking out against the new Georgia law in a statement issued Friday.
“I am disappointed that the MLB is relocating the All-Star game; however I commend the players, owners and League commissioner for speaking out,” Abrams said. “I urge others in positions of leadership to do so as well.”
Abrams cited the loss of events and jobs as reasons behind her opposition to boycotts against the legislation, despite her vehement opposition to the law.
“As I have stated, I respect boycotts, although I don’t want to see Georgia families hurt by lost events and jobs. Georgians targeted by voter suppression will be hurt as opportunities go to other states,” Abrams said. “We should not abandon the victims of GOP malice and lies — we must stand together.”
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) April 2, 2021
Watch Chenault’s remarks below:
Former American Express CEO Ken Chenault — who is leading a group of Black executives to put pressure on corporate America to oppose new voting bills — says they do *not* support boycotts and MLB's moving All-Star Game out of GA is "unfortunate." pic.twitter.com/cT9QiRZnSw
— The Recount (@therecount) April 4, 2021