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RACE MATTERS

Richard Montanez, the creator of Hot Cheetos, and Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., President and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Call for A New Commission to Eradicate Racism in America

Montanez, the creator of hot Cheetos, and Dr. Steele, president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the organization co-founded and first led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., today called on Congress to establish a new commission or give the current Civil Rights Commission, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice more authority to act swiftly and to do whatever it takes to eradicate racism in America.

President Donald Trump, several prominent members of Congress, and even presidential hopeful and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden have called on federal agencies to address the senseless killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis Police Officer. But prominent Hispanic Business Leader Richard Montanez and influential civil rights leader Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., say these federal agencies are failing society, because too many black lives are being lost by those hired to protect them.

Montanez, the creator of hot Cheetos, and Dr. Steele, president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the organization co-founded and first led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., today called on Congress to establish a new commission or give the current Civil Rights Commission, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice more authority to act swiftly and to do whatever it takes to eradicate racism in America.

“What happened to Mr. Floyd is a modern-day lynching,” said Montanez, lauded in numerous circles as one the nation’s leading Hispanic entrepreneurs and corporate executives. “He was murdered and hundreds of millions of people across the globe have witnessed this inhumane action by those hired to serve and protect us. America must condemn these terrible acts of racial hatred. This racism must be rebuked. We must establish a commission or federal agency with the authority to immediate address the wrongs, so the terrible tragedies never happen again.”

Dr. Steele said Americans must pressure President Trump, Congress and even Biden, who is seeking to become the next president, to do more to fight racism in the U.S., because this disease spreads like Covid-19. A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences also reveals that police killings are the sixth leading cause of death for young men ages 25-29. 

“America must find a cure for this disease now,” Dr. Steele said. “We need to be working daily on this pandemic just like we are seeking a cure for the coronavirus. Americans should not accept anything less. The government has never done anything, especially for people of color, unless it was pressured. Frederick Douglas said, ‘Power has never conceded without demand.’ It never has, and it never will. Until we put pressure on government, we will never get any kind of result to address this problem of law enforcement officers killing citizens, which is an important issue to many in America.”

Montanez said the Hispanic community cannot sit idly by and say nothing, and that is why he is speaking out as a leader and as a member of the Hispanic community.  

“The spirit of hatred and racial violence that our grandfathers grew up with that penetrated this nation in the early 20th century has returned,” said Montanez, who rose from janitor in PepsiCo to become a top executive, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Few Americans, he added, know about the nearly 5,000 Mexicans killed by Texas rangers along the border in south Texas.  “They used to haul them over the border like deer,” Montanez said. “The media failed to report this.” 

It is important, Montanez said, that Hispanics and African Americans unite now around this issue.

“We are all in this together,” Montanez said. “This hatred is already affecting all of us. We just do not know it. Every person of color is next. I have grandchildren. It is not even about your ethnicity. it is about the color of your skin. America has a serious problem with dark people. There is no other way to say this. I have experienced racism my entire life. All my life I have been a second-class citizen. Fortunately, I am at a place now where I can use my voice to help bring about change. I am urging others to follow me. Corporate America also needs to take a stand and develop a strategy to truly end discrimination and keep us all safe within establishments whether we are shopping or dining. For people of color, stepping out can be a dangerous experience. This is a call to action, and we must move on this now.” 

Dr. Steele said President Trump and Congress should also move swiftly to establish a body to eradicate racism in America, and Biden should make this a major part of his platform. The goals of the new or restructured body are to prevent discrimination and death as result of racism, he said. 

Montanez said a diverse group of citizens should have a major role in this commission and the SCLC should be at the table.

“From its inception, the SCLC has a legacy of fighting against racism and for the poor,” Montanez said. “Dr. Steele should play a vital role in overseeing this process, because we can’t leave this up to the government, which continues to fail in getting the job done.”

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