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Opinion: Black power in the boardroom is leading the fight for justice

April 7, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 22.4%. 1 min read.

Black business leaders insisting on moral leadership from corporate America against racism and in support of voting rights are modeling the best tradition of politics and protest that Martin Luther King Jr. embodied, argues historian Peniel Joseph.

(CNN)Black business leaders' efforts to stop voter suppression in the wake of Georgia's recently enacted voting bill illustrate the vanishing separation between protest and politics in America today.

They also embody the work of Georgia's most famous civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Over 70 Black executives, led by former American Express CEO Ken Chenault, signed a letter released at the end of March that pressed corporate America to take a stand on voting rights, one of the central moral and political issues in the United States today.

The letter triggered national media attention, as did belated criticism of the law -- which includes provisions to impose restrictions on distributing food and water to people waiting in line to vote -- in corporate statements by Atlanta-based companies Delta and Coca-Cola expressing public support for voting rights.

But former Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons, one of the signers of the letter and a self-described lifelong Rockefeller Republican, insisted to CNN that the law is "just a baldfaced attempt to prevent or suppress the number of Black voters who show up to vote in Georgia. "

The call for action by Black business leaders, though it has had these promising effects, also illustrates the chasm between corporate America's statements promoting diversity and America's contemporary political reality: racial division and blatant efforts to suppress Black voters.

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of the "fierce urgency of now" in the context of the need for America to overcome its tragic racial and political history by confronting it truthfully, with love and justice, in public.

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