Last week, Paul Levy posted about the NAACP's amicus brief supporting the soft-drink industry in its opposition to the New York City rules barring the sale of large sugary drinks. Paul thought that there was a link between the NAACP's position and the large amounts of money it takes from the Coca-Cola Company. Hazel Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference, came out against the [then-proposed] soda ban back in July on the ground that it would not help in the fight against obesity. The NAACP's amicus brief makes this argument and also argues that the ban on large sugary drinks would hurt small businesses owned by members of minority groups.
Since then, the New York Times published an opinion piece called "When Jim Crow Drank Coke," by University of Virginia history professor Grace Hale, arguing that, historically, Coke discriminated against African-Americans (but noting that, in recent years, the soft-drink industry is "on good terms" with the African-American community). Coke's "chief historian" responded yesterday, saying that Hale's effort "to try to link the history of America’s favorite and most inclusive drink – Coca-Cola – to racism are both absurd and appalling." Note that the night before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was murdered in Memphis, Dr. King called for a boycott of Coke in his famous "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech. Click here or on the embedded vido below.