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GM CEO Barra fights back against racist label after second ad runs

Jamie L. LaReau, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

Morrissey insisted Tuesday that the meetings between GM's leadership and the Black-owned media owners did not happen because of Sunday's ad. He said Barra was always willing to meet with them once they had a preliminary meeting with Wahl to outline GM's diversity advertising strategy.

Allen told the Free Press on Wednesday that Wahl had called Earl “Butch” Graves Jr., who is the CEO of Black Enterprise and one of the signatories on the full-page "open letter" to Barra, on Tuesday evening. Allen said Wahl told Graves, regarding the second ad buy, " 'If you run the ad, we’re going to call off the meeting.' They knew it was going to run because the Wall Street Journal reached out to them."

When asked about that call, Morrissey said he did not know if it happened or not.

Allen said the “open letter” ad is not just about the meeting, it is about getting a business deal done that offers Black-owned media economic inclusion. Right now, “we have a company defending what little money they spend on Black-owned media," Allen said.

He said the group ran the letter in the other publications so that Wall Street investors, policymakers and Black Americans know the group's view on GM.

“As African-American men we have every right to exercise our First Amendment and express our opinions," Allen said of running the ads Wednesday. "This is our opinion. We’re looking forward to our meeting with GM tomorrow and we hope that we can come to a mutually agreeable relationship that provides real economic inclusion for Black-owned media and the next ad you read is Black-owned media celebrating Mary Barra and General Motors.”

 

Allen said as part of Thursday's meeting with Barra, GM wanted to go over its work with minority charities through the GM Foundation and he and the other Black-owned company leaders found that "offensive."

“When white America does business with GM, I bet they don’t tell the white business people about their donations,” Allen said. “We are not a charity. We are not nonprofits. We’re here to talk about business. That is the very definition of institutional racism. I am trying to help Mary be better, but Mary keeps talking to us like we’re natives from another country.”

Tuesday evening, he told the Free Press that the meeting with Barra was "long overdue.”

He said Barra has the opportunity to do something “transformative in corporate America” by being a leader in including Black-owned media in GM’s media spending.

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