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2006-08-19
Bentonville, AR. Andrew Young Gives Wal-Mart “Spectacular Setback”

On February 27, 2006, Wal-Mart proudly announced that "civil right pioneer" Andrew Young had signed on as "national Steering Committee Chairman" of a new corporate creation called the Working Families for Wal-Mart, which the retailer described as "a group comprised of individuals and families who understand and appreciate Wal-Mart's positive impact on the working families of America." Less than six months later, Andrew Young's reputation as a "civil rights pioneer" had crashed and burned in what one newpaper called a "spectacular setback" for Wal-Mart PR effort. The meteoric crash on Andrew Young came with one embarassing quote the former Atlanta Mayor made during a recent interview with the Los Angeles Sentinel. When asked if he was concerned about Wal-Mart causing smaller, mom and pop stores to close, Young replied, ""Well, I think they should; they ran the `mom and pop' stores out of my neighborhood But you see, those are the people who have been overcharging us, selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables. And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they've ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs; very few black people own these stores." It didn't take long for two events to follow: 1) a contrite apology from Young, and 2) an immediately divorce by Wal-Mart from any connection to Andrew Young. The former Ambassador issued an apology to the media: "I apologize for those comments. I retract those comments. And I ask for the forgiveness of those I have offended." Young added that his remarks about Jews, Koreans and Arabs "in no way reflect on Wal-Mart's record, progress or role as a diverse employer and community citizen." And Working Families For Wal-Mart promptly beat a retreat in the opposite direction. The group put the following statement on its website: "Working Families for Wal-Mart is saddened by the resignation of Ambassador Andrew Young as chairman of our national steering committee. We do not condone or support the insensitive statements he recently made, but appreciate his sincere apology. We are hopeful that history will remember the many contributions he has made to the civil rights movement and his tireless efforts on behalf of working families. Our organization consists of over 140,000 members across the country. We have several local advisory boards made up of community leaders and activists committed to our cause. We all believe that Wal-Mart makes significant contributions to America's working families. Our organization will continue to grow and make a difference in this national debate." The Anti Defamation League responsed quickly as well. "Andrew Young's comments that Jewish, Korean and Arab shopkeepers "ripped off" African-American communities and should be displaced by Wal-Mart, which he represented, were offensive, hurtful and shameful.," the ADL noted. "That a leader of the civil rights movement and one who knew discrimination firsthand would make such comments, demonstrates that even people of color are not immune from being bigoted, racist and anti-Semitic."

What you can do: It appears that it only took six months for the Wal-Mart culture to rub off on Andrew Young. The Reverend Jeremiah Wright, a black church leader in Chicago, perhaps saw it coming, when he first commented on Young's taking a paid position as a Wal-Mart spokesman. Write accused Young of "siding with the filthy rich who are oppressing the poor". Now the filthy rich don't want to side with Andrew Young, and his racist comments, can be forgiven, but they will not be forgotten. And the fact that he uttered these comments while on Wal-Mart's payroll, will never be forgiven or forgotten. For earlier stories on a similar theme, search Newsflash by "racial discrimination."











 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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