C ivil-rights icon Andrew Young, way back in August, acting in his role as Wal-Mart’s image builder, told a reporter for an African-American newspaper, “I think they’ve ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans, and now it’s Arabs … selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables.” Wal-Mart and he quickly parted ways. But Young still chairs the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, a Manhattan think tank. “How can you talk about a living wage and racial justice when your front man was a paid shill for Wal-Mart who left because of racist comments?” wondered one city wonk. Apparently the high-profile board of the institute, which includes grocery mogul John Catsimatidis, teachers-union president Randi Weingarten, cuny chancellor Matthew Goldstein, and powerhouse lobbyist William Wachtel, doesn’t mind that Young’s still in charge. Wachtel calls Young his “surrogate father” who presided over his wedding. He challenges those who think Young’s comments tarnish his group: “Send them my way,” he says. “That’s what the Drum Major Institute is about: stimulating dialogue about difficult issues.”
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