Burger King faces boycott over claim of racism

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The New York-based black rights campaigner, the Rev Al Sharpton, is threatening to call for a boycott of the Burger King fastfood chain over the company's efforts to revoke the franchise of a black businessman.

The New York-based black rights campaigner, the Rev Al Sharpton, is threatening to call for a boycott of the Burger King fastfood chain over the company's efforts to revoke the franchise of a black businessman.

Mr Sharpton, head of the National Action Network, is intervening on behalf of La-Van Hawkins of Detroit, who claims that Burger King courted him as a franchisee to spearhead its entry into deprived inner-city areas, only to go back on the deal three years later.

Burger King, a subsidiary of the British-owned conglomerate Diageo, is counter-suing, claiming Mr Hawkins owes it more than $6.5m from a 1998 loan.

Mr Sharpton said Burger King was "pulling a whopper over the black community" and accused it of a "pattern of racism". Minorities, he said, spent millions of dollars at Burger King and minority companies deserved a portion of the business. Mr Sharpton has given the company five days to retain a minority-owned investment company to handle part of its proposed share offering and a minority-owned advertising agency. A company spokesman said, however, that two of the company's three advertising agencies are minority-owned.

Black boycotts were used to some effect last year against businesses in South Carolina, in a protest over the flying of the Confederate flag over the State House, and against the Radisson hotel chain after allegations that it set higher room rates for blacks than for whites.

* Just over half of the 26 million foreign-born residents of the United States are from Latin America, and a quarter are Asian, the US Census Bureau reported yesterday.

* Foreign-born residents of the US are about as likely as other Americans to be college graduates - but the ones who don't have degrees tend to be less educated than the rest of the population. The bureau said 25.4 percent had a BA or higher, compared to 25.2 percent of native-born Americans with degrees.

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