August 18, 2006

Civil rights icon resigns from Wal-Mart group

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Civil rights leader Andrew Young
resigned as chairman of a group intended to boost Wal-Mart
Stores Inc.'s image after he made remarks to a newspaper
disparaging Jewish, Arab and Korean shop owners.

Young told the Los Angeles Sentinel, an African-American
newspaper, that Jewish, Arab and Korean shop owners had "ripped
off" urban communities for years, "selling us stale bread, and
bad meat and wilted vegetables," The New York Times said.

In a statement posted on the Working Families for Wal-Mart
Web site on Thursday, Young apologized for his remarks and
asked for forgiveness from those who he offended.

"I recently made some comments about former store owners in
my neighborhood that were completely and utterly
inappropriate," the statement said. "Those comments run
contrary to everything I have dedicated my life to."

Young, an aide to Martin Luther King during the civil
rights protests of the 1960s and a former U.S. ambassador to
the United Nations and mayor of Atlanta, took the job as
chairman of the steering committee for the company-backed
Working Families for Wal-Mart in February.

The appointment generated criticism. In a letter sent to
Young and the media in April, church and civil rights leaders
assailed Young for his work on behalf of the giant retailer.

Wal-Mart says its stores bring jobs and its low prices
benefit consumers.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based firm -- the world's largest
retailer -- has stepped up efforts to counter criticism that it
pays poverty-level wages, discriminates against women and
drives local retailers out of business.

Working Families for Wal-Mart could not immediately be
reached for additional comment.