Georgia faith leaders calling for nationwide boycott of Home Depot
As the impact of the state’s controversial new voting law, Senate Bill 202, continues to be felt in Georgia and discussed around the country, a group of prominent faith leaders are calling for a nationwide boycott of Cobb County based Home Depot. The call is based on what they say has been the company’s unwillingness to meet with them to hear their concerns. The group announced the boycott during a press conference this week outside of a Decatur Home Depot after the company failed to attend a summit meeting that was held between faith leaders and corporate executives from several Georgia-based companies. In addition, the faith leaders accused Home Depot of ignoring a series of follow-up requests from the group and failing to speak publicly against the new law.
One of the speakers during the press conference, Reverend Lee May of the Transforming Faith Church in Decatur said, “We stand here collectively representing over 1,000 churches here in Georgia alone — 1,000 churches, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of parishioners or members. We stand here collectively together to launch this boycott.” Lee went on to say, “We as faith leaders have been attempting for quite some time to sit down with our political leadership here in Georgia, to sit down with those who were making key decisions about election integrity, about voting laws here in Georgia.”
Members of the group said they have held talks with corporate leaders around the state to discuss the bill and its ramifications, however, they have not been successful in their efforts to reach Home Depot Executives. They called out Home Depot’s inactions in comparison to Delta and Coca-Cola, which they said have been more willing to hear their concerns and attend roundtables to discuss issues like voting rights.
Another speaker, Rev. Timothy McDonald, the founder of the African American Ministers Leadership Council, said, “We are honored to gather in the shadow of Home Depot, which is in the business of building homes and, it appears, tearing down democracy.” He went on to lead the crowd of clergy in a chant of “teach our dollars some sense.”
Among their demands, the clergy group wants Home Depot to speak out against SB202; they want the company to support litigation opposing the voting law; and they want the company to publicly oppose similar legislation nationwide. They also want Home Depot to support federal legislation that would expand voter access.
In a written statement, a Home Depot spokesman said that the company believes all elections should be accessible, fair, and secure, and that the company continues to work to ensure their associates in Georgia and across the country have the information and resources to vote. They also mentioned that they promoted voter participation in the 2020 election through their internal Get Out the Vote initiative, among other efforts.
Faith leaders rejected those claims and said Home Depot should be doing much more. “Blacks and people of color spend our money and buy the products of these corporations just like whites”, said Rev. Dr. Susan H. Buckson of Atlanta’s Allen Temple AME Church. “Corporations should publicly speak out and oppose legislation that discriminates to suppress our votes.” The group of clergy also denounced Gov. Brian Kemp and criticized him for signing the legislation. They called on both the Governor and Home Depot to meet with them to discuss making changes.
Incensed and not to be outdone, shortly after the clergy spoke, Kemp held his own press conference where he criticized the planned boycott and accused the group of “not telling the truth” about the legislation. The groups demand for a boycott clearly triggered anger from Kemp, along with other Republicans, who point to a growing posture of “cancel culture”, which the GOP has adopted as their “fighting theme” after MLB moved the All-Star Game from Cobb County in March in response to the passage of the bill. Said Kemp about Home Depot, “They did not ask to be in this political fight…it’s unfair to them, to their families, to their livelihoods to get targeted. This is a great company.” The governor, who signed the legislation into law last month, went on to call the boycott “absolutely ridiculous.” Noting that Home Depot employs 30,000 people in the state, Kemp warned that a call for a boycott could deal lasting damage to the state’s economic reputation. Kemp went on to say, “This is not about Georgia’s election law, this is about a movement at the national level to nationalize elections and have an unconstitutional takeover of state elections,” a reference to Democratic attempts to pass federal voting legislation. Echoing what has become his “catch phrase” each time he discusses the law, Kemp said, “This bill makes it easier to vote and harder to cheat.”
The faith leaders did not mention any potential actions against other Georgia based companies such as UPS and Cox Enterprises, but they have been critical of bland statements from companies which suggest more advocacy and more boycotts may be on the horizon.