Al Sharpton demands McDonald’s address alleged racial discrimination

The Rev. Sharpton said it is "appalling and inexcusable" that McDonald's Corporation has not resolved its differences with the Black community and Black franchises.

The Rev. Al Sharpton says he sent a letter to McDonald’s Corporation Chief Executive Officer Chris Kempczinski calling on him to address the multiple claims of alleged racial discrimination. 

As president and founder of the National Action Network (NAN), Sharpton said he would “mobilize” the organization to “demand action against the fast-food giant” unless it addressed these long-standing problems, according to a press release on NAN’s website. NAN did not respond to theGrio’s requests for a copy of the letter.

The Rev. Al Sharpton
The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks on May 19, 2022 during a press conference outside the Antioch Baptist Church in Buffalo, New York. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

Sharpton said it is “appalling and inexcusable” that McDonald’s has not resolved its differences with the Black community and Black franchises. “There are lawsuits brought by Black franchises. Another brought by a Black former executive over racial discrimination from the highest levels.”

Last year, a Black McDonald’s executive filed a lawsuit against the fast-food chain, alleging racial discrimination at the hands of Kempczinski, theGrio reported.

Sharpton also referenced Byron Allen’s multi-billion dollar lawsuit against the fast-food chain. Allen is the founder, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group, the parent company of theGrio.

As theGrio previously reported, in 2021, Allen’s Entertainment Studios Network, Inc. and the Weather Channel sued McDonald’s for $10 billion. The lawsuit alleges that McDonald’s spent $1.6 billion on television advertising in the U.S. in 2019 but only $5 million on advertising with Black-owned media companies.

Allen recently called on famed investor Carl Icahn to join his fight against the McDonald’s corporation for alleged racial discrimination. 

Local entrepreneurs independently own and operate approximately 95% of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide, according to a company news release.

McDonald’s Corporation is at the center of several racial discrimination complaints. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Sharpton concludes his remarks in the press release with, “You cannot sell Black folks Big Macs and give us little justice.”

McDonald’s did not respond to the Grio’s requests for comment about Sharpton’s letter.

Meanwhile, the correspondence comes nearly a month after the company announced the retirement of Robert “Bob” A. Eckert and John W. Rogers, Jr. from the McDonald’s Board of Directors. 

Eckert and Rogers became directors of McDonald’s on the same day in May 2003. Their retirements are consistent with the board’s commitment to maintaining balanced perspectives of industry knowledge with new ideas from a refreshment of directors, according to the company’s news release.

In a March 29 statement, Rogers said he is “exceptionally proud to have championed” various initiatives for McDonald’s corporation, such as “tying executive compensation to improving diversity representation and increasing spending with diverse suppliers.”

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