Ryan Coogler has spoken out against Senate Bill 202, the widely condemned new Georgia voting legislation, in a guest column for Deadline, though production on the Black Panther sequel will remain in the state. “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,” Coogler wrote. The Black Panther director goes on to explain that, after speaking with voting-rights activists in Georgia, he came to understand that “many of the people employed by my film, including all the local vendors and businesses we engage, are the very same people who will bear the brunt of SB202,” and because of this, he won’t be participating in a boycott of the state. Instead, Coogler writes, “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.” He then outlines the ramifications of SB202, including new ID requirements and restrictions on polling locations. Coogler ends by voicing his support for H.R. 1, the For the People Act, and calls for donations to voting-rights organization Fair Fight Action.
Coogler’s column follows the news that the upcoming Will Smith–led Apple TV+ movie Emancipation will not shoot in Georgia because of SB202, with Smith and director Antoine Fuqua saying in a joint statement, “We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access.” The controversy has also led to the MLB moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta. Voting-rights activist and Georgia politician Stacey Abrams, however, told the Associated Press last week, “I do not believe that a boycott at this moment is beneficial to the victims of these bills. I do believe it is absolutely necessary for corporations to show their goodwill. They have to publicly denounce these bills, they have to support and invest in voting rights expansion, and they need to support the federal voting rights standards.”