In response to Georgia’s restrictive new voting laws designed to target Black voters, director Ryan Coogler has doubled down on his commitment to filming Black Panther 2 in the Peach State. In a new op-ed published in Shadow and Act, the acclaimed filmmaker wrote 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,” the new laws.
The laws, which Governor Brian Kemp signed in March, are collectively known as SB202. Most concerning are the provisions that enable Republicans to seize control of election boards in Democratic counties, potentially giving them the power to throw out votes. SB202 also introduced strict new ID requirements, reduced the number of places that people can vote, made it illegal to give food or water to people waiting in line to vote, and removed requirements that enabled early voting on Sundays, which is expected to impact the voting drives that have long been held by some Black churches.
In his op-ed, Coogler acknowledged the inherent racism and anti-democratic values behind the bill. “The fight for full enfranchisement is fundamental to the African-American struggle in this country and to this country’s claim to functioning democracy,” he wrote. “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. 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.”
But, as Coogler points out, the people who wrote the law will not be the ones disenfranchised. 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.”
He continued, “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 outlined many of the harms contained within SB202 and called for the passage of H.R. 1, also known as the For the People Act, which has already cleared the US House. He wrote, “The Senate must now do its job.”
The filmmaker ended with a commitment to continue fighting SB202. “Our film [Black Panther II] is staying in Georgia. 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.”
Finally, Coogler pledged a donation to Fair Fight Action, and you can do the same at www.stopjimcrow2.com.