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Chick-fil-A CEO Cathy: Businesses must push to end racial inequality

Chick-fil-A Chairman Dan Cathy vowed to use his status as one of Atlanta’s wealthiest and most powerful business leaders to address the stubborn racial inequalities that have fueled recent protests across the nation.

Chick-fil-A Chairman Dan Cathy vowed to use his status as one of Atlanta’s wealthiest and most powerful business leaders to address the stubborn racial inequalities that have fueled recent protests across the nation.

In a lengthy statement posted on LinkedIn late Tuesday, Cathy said he was deeply disturbed by the recent murders of young black people, the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on communities of color and African Americans' overall lack of access to opportunity.

“I recognize that someone like me cannot fully appreciate and understand the gross injustices that are all around us. I also recognize that talking about the systemic inequality, bias, and injustices in our country will draw criticism,” Cathy wrote. “But neither of these reasons makes it OK for me to remain silent about the issues that now so publicly confront our nation.”

Cathy, who is also CEO of the Atlanta-based restaurant chain, said he planned to use his pull in the business community to urge people “to be responsible capitalists who meet the needs of society.”

“We must use our influence so that all of our communities can participate in the rising tide of prosperity and hope,” said the billionaire, though he did not include specifics.

Chick-fil-A has largely sought to keep a low profile on social issues after it was criticized and boycotted in 2012, when Cathy publicly weighed in against same-sex marriage. The popular chain in recent years has targeted its charitable giving toward education and ending homelessness and hunger. It's also spent money to help redevelop Atlanta's Westside, and Cathy on Tuesday highlighted his company's investments in Morehouse College, community health clinics and a center serving at-risk youth.

Chick-fil-A is the latest in a long line of Atlanta businesses that have pledged action on racial justice in recent days as the nation convulses under days of protests triggered by the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky.

Home Depot announced Tuesday that it will donate $1 million to the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in support of efforts to end racism and injustice. Coca-Cola Company said senior leaders will host a "Stand As One" dialogue on racism, while the leaders of Southern Company said they will "redouble our ongoing efforts to improve relations between all members of the communities where we live and work."

Cathy said people should seek to have “intentional, difficult conversations” about race and teach children “leadership, love and justice.”

“To whom much is given, much is required,” he said.

Staff writer Matt Kempner contributed to this article.