“That was easy. There’s just no excuse for what the Georgian legislature has done,” Parsons told CNN Business in his first public comments on the controversial law.
In the interview, the former Time Warner and CBS CEO considered Georgia’s law to be “headless,” a blatant attempt to suppress the black vote, and a “cunning” that seeks to safeguard the election.
“What has it got to do with feeding someone or giving a glass of water to someone with fraud?” Parsons asked. “It’s just a bald-faced attempt to prevent or suppress the number of black voters running in Georgia. We felt like a corporate community that we needed to ask the legislature to hold them accountable.”
The “impossible task” that Trump faces
“Now they’re doing really well with WOKE’S CANCELLATION CULTURE and our sacred election. Finally, it’s time for Republicans and Conservatives to fight back (we have more people than them), by far!” Trump said in a statement over the weekend. “Don’t go back to their products until they give in. We can play better than them.”
Asked why the former U.S. president is now calling for a boycott of some of America’s top brands, Parsons laughed and said, “Good luck, former President Trump.”
“People really want to deprive themselves of all products and services [of those companies] in an effort to return the clock to 1865? I don’t think so, but we’ll find out, ”said Parsons, who served as Citi’s president during the financial crisis and previously directed CNN’s former father, Time Warner.
Parsons said Trump “basically doesn’t know the story” and wants to get things back to the way they were, or at least prevent them from moving forward further.
“This is an impossible task. No one in history has ever been able to do it. And you will not be able to do it,” he said.
The message to other states debating similar laws in Georgia
“It was the right measure,” said Parsons, who was previously the interim CEO of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. He added that a large segment of professional athletes are black. “They have to keep up with their constituency, their own employees.”
Of course, this debate on voting rights is much more than Georgia.
Parsons said the stance of some CEOs against Georgia law should send a message to other states considering similar legislation. He compared the situation to when a baseball manager runs out and answers a call made by a referee.
“He doesn’t really expect the referee to change the call he made, but he expects the referee to remember him next time,” Parsons said. “We hope other states see that they can’t enact this kind of legislation inexplicably … and have no consequences for paying for it.”
“Blacks are left behind”
Parsons said he does not support a reparations program based solely on writing checks to the African American community.
“I don’t think it’s useful. That money would just be lost,” he said.
However, Parsons said he would be in favor of a broader reparations package built around training, education and support to help black families achieve the American dream.
“Look brother, blacks are left behind and are still behind a hundred and more years later and need help to catch up,” Parsons said. “But it’s more than transferring money to them.”
‘Hope and optimism’
Long before joining the C-Suite, Parsons skipped grades twice during his training and graduated from high school in New York City at age 16. He ended up leading his class at Albany Law School.
He continued to work for prominent Republicans, including Nelson Rockefeller and President Gerald Ford.
Although Parsons said he was angry at the blatant racism inflicted on black Americans, he said he did not personally experience overt discrimination during his career.
“I guess I’ve had an enchanted career,” Parsons said. “I guess that’s one of the reasons I still have a lot of hope and optimism so that we, as a country, can overcome it in a lasting and lasting way.”