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Georgia Religious Leaders Call for Boycott of Home Depot over Silence on Voting Laws

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Several Georgia religious leaders, such as Bishop Reginal Jackson of the African Methodist Episcopal churches, Reverend Lee May of the Transforming Faith Church, and Rev. Timothy McDonald III, the African American ministers’ founder Leadership Council, are asking for a nationwide boycott of Home Depot. They said they did not like the company’s unwillingness to meet them and listen to their concerns over Senate Bill 202.

What We Know:

  • The boycott call came on the same day the Senate Judiciary Committee took testimony from Stacey Abrams and others at a hearing partially focused on the new bill. Since Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed SB 202 into law in March, many activists have asked corporations to oppose the legislation. Once Kemp approved SB 202, faith leaders began boycotting Georgia-based companies.
  • Jackson, the leader of this movement, initially promoted barring Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines. However, he relented after having conversations with officials at the businesses. Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey denounced SB 202 on CNBC, stating it was “unacceptable” and “a step backward.” Delta Airlines also released a statement in which they affirmed: “that full and equal access to voting is a fundamental right for all citizens.” However, Jackson claims he has repeatedly contacted Home Depot executives, but nobody has answered him.
  • The heads of the religious associations stood outside a Home Depot in Decatur when they mentioned this. They criticized the store for not rejecting the bill after it was passed by Kemp while also scorning it for refusing to meet with the faith administrators.

“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,” declared May.

  • McDonald referenced the store’s mission; it was a “business of building homes” and “tearing down democracy,” he said. “Teach our dollars some sense,” chanted McDonald and the crowd. ABC News reported that the coalition has four specific requests of Home Depot. May states these demands are to speak out “publically and specifically” against SB 202; to oppose any other limiting voting provisions under consideration in other states; to support federal legislation that expands voter access and also restricts voter suppression; and to back any efforts, including “investing in litigation,” to stop SB 202 and similar bills. Before announcing their claims, May informed ABC the coalition is “fluid in this boycott.”
  • McDonald also warned of an expansion in the embargo. He stated there might be phases two, three, and four. Without saying too much, he explained they might protest on their property, block their driveways, and enter their store. It was up to Home Depot as to how far the group would take it.
  • Home Depot spokesperson Sarah Gorman told NBC News that the company chose to continue underscoring its statement that all elections should be accessible, fair, secure, and support broad voter participation. She also said the business would keep ensuring its associates all across the U.S. have information and resources to vote. Gorman raised the example of Home Depot donating 9,200 plexiglass dividers to Georgia polling stations. She also mentioned that the company “promoted voter participation” via internal programs.

This movement does not phase Gov. Brian Kemp. He criticized the boycott on Twitter, claiming “the left” will go to any extreme to “cancel” people who do not share the same political agenda. In a news conference on Tuesday, he noted the protest would hurt Georgians. He said it targets the livelihoods of employees and their families. Finally, he announced he would support Home Depot. Nonetheless, the religious leaders will continue to fight for their congregations’ right to vote. They will also demand other leaders fight for their people as well.

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Alex Haynes is Editor-At-Large/NYC Editor at Urban Newsroom, Executive Editor at UNR's Black Alerts and the host of Boss Mornings and Unmuted Nation. Alex joined Urban Newsroom in 2010 and contributes regular op-ed and editorial pieces while advising the columnist and contributing staff.

Coronavirus

Man who mocked COVID-19 online, dead at 34

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A man who mocked Covid-19 vaccinations died this week at a Los Angeles-area hospital after contracting the virus.

Stephen Harmon was 34.

What We Know:

  • Harmon died on Wednesday at Corona Regional Medical Center, about an hour’s drive east of Los Angeles.  Stephen Harmon posted photos of himself in his hospital bed, wrote that he had pneumonia and critically low oxygen levels and was going to be intubated. In a tweet Wednesday, Harmon wrote: “Don’t know when I’ll wake up, please pray,” KCBS-TV reported.

  • Three days before his death, Harmon tweeted: “If you don’t have faith that God can heal me over your stupid ventilator then keep the Hell out of my ICU room, there’s no room in here for fear or lack of faith!”
  • Before his hospitalization, Harmon had made fun of vaccination efforts on social media.

“I got 99 problems but a vax ain’t one,” he said in a tweet last month.

  • On July 8, he posted: “Biden’s door to door vaccine ‘surveyors’ really should be called JaCovid Witnesses. #keepmovingdork.”
  • Harmon’s death was “unbelievably demoralizing,” Dr. Oren Friedman, who treats Covid-19 patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, told KCBS-TV. He said the number of Covid-19 admissions had increased tenfold.

“Virtually every single person that is getting sick enough to be admitted to the hospital has not been vaccinated,” Friedman said.

  • California has seen escalating numbers of Covid-19 infections, led by the highly transmissible delta variant that has proliferated since the state fully reopened the economy last month. The vast majority of new cases are among unvaccinated people, and health officials have pleaded for people to get the shots.  On Friday, the state Department of Public Health reported nearly 8,000 new cases a day earlier and the testing positivity rate over seven days had jumped to more than 5 percent after dipping below 1% only a few weeks ago.
  • Los Angeles County, which has about a fourth of the state’s population, reported more than 3,000 new cases for the first time since February. There were 655 people with Covid-19 in hospitals, a jump of more than 200 people in a week, according to county figures.

  • Harmon attended Hillsong Church in Los Angeles.  Founder Brian Houston called him “one of the most generous people I know.”

    “As a church, our focus is on the spiritual well-being of the people in each of our local communities. On any medical issue, we strongly encourage those in our church to follow the guidance of their doctors,” Houston said in a statement to KCBS-TV. “While many of our staff, leadership and congregation have already received the Covid vaccine, we recognize this is a personal decision for each individual to make with the counsel of medical professionals.”

 

Urban Newsroom and Black News Alerts have issued a COMMUNITY ALERT regarding COVID-19.

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Faith

Dr. Stanley McKenzie, Former NBA player and Husband to First Female AME Bishop Vashti McKenzie, has Died

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Dr. Stanley McKenzie, Former NBA player and Husband to First Female (African Methodist Episcopal) AME Bishop Vashti McKenzie, has Died at the age of 76.  Dr. McKenzie was drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1966 and played guard for many years on several teams including the Baltimore Bullets, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trailblazers, and Houston Rockets. He was an NBA multi-record holder, holding the record for “Most Free Throws” taken in one quarter.  After retiring from the NBA, Dr. McKenzie worked within various corporations and served as Supervisor in the AME church. You can read a full bio for Dr. Stanley by clicking here.  Homegoing arrangements are forthcoming.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Bishop Vashti McKenzie, their three children, and family and friends.

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Faith

Catholic Bishops Move Forward with Communion Policy targeted at Public Figures Supporting Abortion

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The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) voted to move forward with creating a document that will keep abortion supporting Catholic politicians, from participating in communion.

What We Know:

  • On Thursday, the bishops voted on creating a policy that states “the meaning of the Eucharist,” the Holy Communion. 168 bishops voted in favor of the policy, and 55 voted against it. Many of the bishops believe Catholic politicians, like President Joe Biden, shouldn’t be allowed to partake in communion because they are pro-choice or for abortion rights. Holy Communion is one of the most sacred traditions of the Catholic church, and it’s where members take bread and wine as representations of the body and blood of Jesus to honor his sacrifice.
  • The bishops met virtually over three days, where they discussed the communion policy. Those for the policy believe some form of action should be taken against Biden for his plans of protecting abortion rights. The 55 bishops against the policy feel that creating it will present them as being partisan in a country that’s pretty divided.
  • Biden is a supporter of abortion rights and the 2nd Catholic elected U.S. president. He attends Mass regularly and was married to his 1st wife in a Catholic Church. Biden has stated that he doesn’t agree with abortions per his religion, however, he doesn’t want to push his viewpoints on others. In 2019, Biden was denied communion while attending a Catholic church in South Carolina.

“I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people, women, that they can’t control their bodies. That’s a decision between them and their doctor, in my view, and the Supreme Court, I’m not going to interfere with that,” said Biden.

  • Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, has said that he will not turn away Biden from participating in Holy Communion. He opposes the communion policy being pushed by the Catholic president, as he believes that it will further divide us as a people. Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City has stated that Biden brought about the need for the policy with his “pro-choice” stance on a matter that other Catholics are against.
  • The USCCB’s doctrine committee will meet up and draft an official statement on “the meaning of communion in the church,” which will be submitted for a vote at their next meeting in November. The group needs a majority two-thirds vote to pass the policy. Yet, if the policy gets passed, it will not be binding law. Each bishop will be able to decide who can and cannot participate in their church’s communion.

60 Catholic Democrats in Congress have already voiced their disapproval of the communion policy, and hope the bishops pushing for it change their minds. The Vatican has already disclosed that it’s not in favor of the policy and Biden’s church in Washington, will most likely disregard the policy, if passed.

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