April 8, 2021
In recent days, corporate America has faced a reckoning over its posture of indifference in the face of a concerted attack on Black voting rights across the nation. Many corporations have responded to this reckoning by issuing tepid statements of support for Black voting rights before quickly stepping back onto the safety of the sidelines. But this moment demands more.
We write as the Young Black Lawyers’ Organizing Coalition (YBLOC), a nonpartisan movement of young Black lawyers and law students committed to protecting and empowering Black electoral voice, to demand that corporate America align its words of support for Black voting rights with measurable, tangible action in defense of Black voting rights. We demand that corporate leaders divest from voter suppression and invest in inclusive democracy by publicly committing to the following actions:
- Divest all corporate financial contributions from elected officials, trade associations and lobbying organizations that support voter suppression laws and policies.
- Invest $25 million per corporation over the next two years in the protection of Black voting rights.
- Engage independent experts to conduct a thorough civil rights assessment of your government affairs and lobbying practices, and clearly establish your local, state and federal policy priorities in opposition to voter suppression and in favor of pro-democracy reforms, including national voting rights protections.
- Support the full political participation of your workforce by providing paid time-off to vote.
- Immediately schedule a C-Suite-level meeting with YBLOC leadership regarding these demands and the specific steps being taken to meet them.
We stand fully ready to hold corporations accountable to these demands. In issuing these demands, we acknowledge the important work of other Black-led civil rights organizations and Black corporate leaders who have helped to establish the predicate for this moment through their calls for corporate accountability.
Now is the time for action in defense of Black voting rights. From Georgia to Texas, legislatures are pursuing a brazen voter suppression agenda that severely threatens Black political rights. Georgia has enacted a voter suppression law that codifies new voting barriers and anti-democratic election administration policies. The Texas legislature is now actively considering its own voter suppression bills. Voter suppression bills are proliferating across the country, with “361 bills with restrictive provisions in 47 states.”[Brennan Center, “State Voting Bills Tracker 2021,” updated April 1, 2021.] The new and proposed laws employ a range of tactics and methods, from limiting poll site access in Black communities to curtailing early voting options critical to Black voters, but they all share the pernicious goal of reinstating Jim Crow at the ballot box.
For corporate America to be on the sidelines in this moment is to aid and abet the erosion of Black voting rights. Inaction will stand as a lasting indictment against the corporate institutions that have the social, economic and political influence to help fight back against voter suppression, but do little to nothing.
As young Black lawyers and law students, our commitment to this issue, and to holding corporate America accountable on it, is deep and lasting. During the 2020 general election, YBLOC led a seven-state voter protection campaign focused on protecting and empowering Black voters through community-centered voter education, local advocacy and impact litigation, and we will be active in the democracy battles of this year and beyond. Our ranks include many future leaders in business and law, who are invested in ensuring that their prospective corporate employers are not apathetic about the fundamental democracy rights of our communities. We issue this letter as the first step in an accountability movement that will insist on measurable corporate action on behalf of Black voting rights.
In the battle for our democracy, indifference from corporate America is not an option.
Founder & Chief Strategist
Young Black Lawyers’ Organizing Coalition (YBLOC)
Thurgood Marshall Legal Society (TMLS) at the University of Texas School of Law
Duke Black Law Students Association (BLSA)
Stanford Black Law Students Association (BLSA)
We welcome you to sign up below to join our call for corporate accountability in this critical moment for our democracy.