Georgia governor Brian Kemp signs new voter bill next to slave plantation painting
Wallace first said she hadn’t thought twice about the painting. But “when I saw the news last night and saw what kind of plantation it was, it was the plantation my family worked on.”
When she realized it was the Callaway Plantation in Wilkes County, Georgia, she said, “I gasped.”
Generations of her family have worked there since slavery, Wallace said. More recently, her father was a tenant who picked cotton on the plantation.
The look with which Kemp signed this bill in front of this painting was “very rude and very disrespectful to me, my family, and the blacks in Georgia,” Wallace said.
Governor Kemp’s office did not return CNN’s request for comment.
Republicans have defended what is known as the Election Integrity Act of 2021, saying it was needed to build confidence in voting after last year’s election. Kemp said the law will “ensure that the elections in Georgia are safe, fair and accessible”.
The law introduces new requirements to identify voters for postal ballot papers, empowers state officials to run local elections, restricts the use of ballot boxes, and makes it a crime to turn to voters who stand in line for food and water .
“The part about not being able to give people water, the part about not feeding people, what’s that?” Wallace said. “What they would think is that it is not right to give a thirsty person some water in every situation, regardless of whether they are voting or whatever. It is ridiculous. You are supposed to make it easier for people to vote, not harder . “
The arrest of Democratic MP Rep. Park Cannon on Friday was an annoyance to Wallace, too. The black state representative was arrested after knocking on Kemp’s office door while protesting the bill.
“It symbolized everything that’s going on in Georgia right now. Blacks come out, blacks vote, they don’t like that,” Wallace said. “So they’ll try everything to stop it.”
Wallace said her father was a tenant who picked cotton on the plantation. He was drafted to serve his country in Vietnam and when he got home from the war he was told to use the back door of a restaurant.
Wallace was at a rally outside Atlanta City Hall on Saturday to protest the new electoral law. As much as things seem unchanged at the moment from Georgia’s past, efforts to keep people from voting will fail, she said.
“It’s not going to work because we’re driven by the power of our ancestors and we’re going to change things. It’s a new Georgia.”
CNN’s Faith Karimi, John Blake, Kelly Mena and Dianne Gallagher contributed to this report.