Coalition to Rally at McDonald’s Atlanta Regional Headquarters and Call for The Company to Acknowledge Its History of Systematic Racism toward Black Franchisees, Employees

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Coalition to Rally at McDonald’s Atlanta Regional Headquarters and Call for The Company to Acknowledge Its History of Systematic Racism toward Black Franchisees, Employees (ATLANTA, GA) – A broad coalition of civil rights activists, current and former franchisees, employees and customers will commemorate “April Fools’ Day” by gathering in front of McDonald’s regional headquarters for DON’T BE McFOOLED, a peaceful educational protest to urge the company to address its simmering racial problems.

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“We’ve been played the fool for far too long,” said Wallace “Gator” Bradley “The Urban Translator,” longtime civil rights leader and president of United In Peace Inc. “It is time for McDonald’s to finally end the system where its Black franchisees are treated like second-class citizens.”  

Bradley, a legendary organizer from Chicago, will be joined by Nancy Johnson, president of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta; Richard Rose, president of the NAACP Atlanta; and Pastor Dr. Jamal H. Bryant of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.

“Atlanta is the home to the country’s premier Black business talent, but they too would find headwinds working within the McDonald’s system,” said the Urban League’s Nancy Johnson. “We urge McDonald’s to sit down with its Black franchisees and Black employees to identify a path forward to rectify these complaints and ensure equitable access to wealth creation and career enhancements.” 

McDonald’s is battling a wave of federal discrimination lawsuits by Black former executives, current and former franchisees and employees all alleging decades of mistreatment. “These lawsuits debunk any notion that McDonald’s is a friend to the Black entrepreneur or is an advocate for its Black employees,” said Kahari Nash, a representative of the Byrd Brothers, Darrell and James F. Byrd Jr., the current Black McDonald’s franchisees leading the federal class action, BYRD ET AL v MCDONALD’S ET AL. 

“What troubles me most is that McDonald’s might not be able to survive without its Black customer base,” said Pastor Bryant. “Nearly 30 percent of the sales come from Black customers but there are only 186 Black franchisees out 1,608 representing only 13.08% of all franchisees.”

The gist of the lawsuits is that McDonald’s forces Black franchisees to operate in neighborhoods White operators refuse to go. Inner city stores destine to fail because of low-volume sales and high operating costs. The tragic result is profit shortfalls or losses that ruin a franchisees’ ability to grow and acquire other stores. 

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“McDonald’s owes the Black community some answers,” said the NAACP’s Richard Rose. “First and foremost, why has the Black franchisee count plummeted from nearly 400 in 1998 to only 186 today?”

Wallace Bradley said it is not too late for the fast-food giant to make things right. Specifically, he repeated his call for McDonald’s to:

  1. Settle the lawsuits with the Black franchisees (former and current) and implement programmatic changes that puts Black operators at parity with their White counterparts.
  2. Create a minority franchisee fund ($500M – $1B) managed by minority-owned financial institutions 
  3. Re-Grow the Black Franchisees from today’s low of 186 to the 1998 high of 377 and on par with the Black Customers representing 30% of McDonald’s Gross Sales. 
  4. Ensure fairness in franchisee agreements.
  5. Restore the 42 Black executive positions lost between CEOs Don Thompson and Steve Easterbrook.
  6. Increase minority suppliers.
  7. Provide equitable increases based on consumer sales (Black Customers Equal 30% McDonald’s Gross Sales) in marketing and advertising budgets and engagements with Black Owned Marketing & Advertising Firms based on the 4% Advertising Fee (2% National & 2% Local Co-Op) charged to the Franchisees.
  8. Provide equitable philanthropic contributions to HBCUs, minority causes and organizations. 

The many lawsuits McDonald’s is facing have garnered immense national and international coverage, but lost in the articles is any in-depth discussion of the personal trauma faced by these Black businessmen and women who believed McDonald’s was their ticket to the American Dream.

Before becoming franchisees and operating their own stores, many of the plaintiffs started out at the fryer, the drive-through window or the cash register. 

Bradley said reading the lawsuits is troubling and if the allegations are proven, “McDonald’s has a lot of explaining to do.” 

Coalition to Rally at McDonald’s Atlanta Regional Headquarters and Call for The Company to Acknowledge Its History of Systematic Racism toward Black Franchisees, Employees

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