Kenneth Frazier, the head of pharmaceutical giant Merck, resigned from US President Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council on Monday, saying he was taking a stand against intolerance and extremism.
“America’s leaders must honor our fundamental views by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal,” Frazier said in a statement, Reuters reports.
The resignation from the Trump advisory council came after the US president drew widespread criticism for not quickly condemning a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend that led to violent clashes and the death of a woman.
“As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” said Frazier, who is African-American.
A rally by white nationalists on Saturday took a deadly turn as a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters and killed at least one person and injured 19 others.
Trump had said “many sides” were involved, drawing fire from across the political spectrum for not specifically denouncing the far right.
Facing a strong backlash, Trump finally denounced neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan as criminals and thugs on Monday.
But that was too late, with Frazier announcing that that he was quitting the Trump advisory role in “stand against intolerance and extremism”.
Individually, at least one CEO, John Maraganore of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, tweeted his support, saying he was “proud to stand with leaders like Ken Frazier”.
Other top business leaders also spoke out in response to the violence in Charlottesville.
“I support Ken Frazier’s decision. I’m thankful we have business leaders such as Ken to remind America of its better angels,” said Hewlett Packard Enterprises CEO Meg Whitman.
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