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The director behind Black Panther and Creed is speaking out against Georgia's new restrictive voting law.
Ryan Coogler, 34, wrote a guest column for Deadline detailing his concerns over Georgia's new election bill SB202, which the director says has "shameful roots in Jim Crow" and aims to suppress the voting rights of Georgia citizens.
"The fight for full enfranchisement is fundamental to the African-American struggle in this country and to this country's claim to functioning democracy," Coogler began the article. "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."
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He continues, "I say this as I return to Georgia, a state that holds a special place in my heart. I lived in Atlanta for eight months while filming my last movie. I have long looked forward to returning. But, when I was informed of the passage of SB202 in the state, and its ramifications for the state's voters, I was profoundly disappointed."
The new law in Georgia places several new restrictions on voting, including limits on drop boxes, who is allowed to vote using provisional ballots, new county election board oversight and stripping some authority from the secretary of state, according to The New York Times. It also criminalizes offering food or water to people waiting in line to vote.
Coogler confirmed that Black Panther II "will stay in Georgia" instead of boycotting the state, which comes after Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua announced they were pulling production of their new slave drama Emancipation out of the state over the restrictive voting law.
"While I wished to turn my concern into action, I could not do so without first being educated on the specifics of Georgia. Having now spoken with voting rights activists in the state, I have come 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," the Judas and the Black Messiah producer wrote. "For those reasons, I will not be engaging in a boycott of Georgia. 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."
Coogler urges the Senate to pass H.R. 1, titled the For the People Act. The legislation "will make critical reforms for voting rights" like expanding access to voting ballots, ending partisan gerrymandering and fighting "against Republicans' assault on voting rights," Coogler says.
The director ended the column by pledging his commitment to raising awareness about organizations' efforts to overturn Georgia's new bill.
"Additionally, I have made a personal commitment to raise awareness about ways to help overturn this harmful bill, and continue to get educated on this matter from people on the ground. I will encourage everyone working with me to tap in with the local community directly affected by Senate Bill 202 and to leverage their influence and resources to aid in the fight for this particular and essential pillar of democracy," he concluded.