Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier, Black Enterprise’s 2014 Corporate Executive of the Year, said that he has given up his seat on the President’s American Manufacturing Council after controversy erupted over how President Trump handled the racist-fueled violence in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend.
Posted as a statement from Merck’s official Twitter account, Frazier said, “I am resigning from the President’s American Manufacturing Council.”
“Our country’s strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientations and political beliefs,” the statement continued.
“As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”
President Trump swiftly attacked Frazier’s decision on Twitter.
“Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!,” the president tweeted.
Frazier began his career at Merck in 1992 as the company’s general counsel. He earned a reputation for having a grace-under-pressure approach to problem-solving as he led the company through thousands of lawsuits regarding the alleged harmful effects of a painkiller at the time.
He took the helm as Merck’s CEO in Jan. 1, 2011. His management has been responsible for increasing shareholder value; the stock price has appreciated by 86%, Black Enterprise reported in 2014.
Mirian Graddick-Weir, executive vice president, Human Resources, characterized Frazier as having the right mix of “head, heart and guts.”
Frazier and his wife, Andréa, are part of the founding board of Cornerstone Christian Academy, a school serving roughly 250 children from one of Philadelphia’s poorest census tracts. “Our goal as a school is to provide a first-rate education in the context of Christian upbringing so that the children can gain not only the academic skills they’re going to need to compete in the world, but also a sense of who they truly are and of their responsibilities to their fellow humans. I think they could be future leaders of Merck. They could be future leaders of this country,” Frazier says.
“My life story, if it has any meaning, based on my father’s beliefs, means that being born poor doesn’t mean that you’ll always end up there. Your story isn’t written. You get to write that story. You get to determine your future. ”
—Additional reporting by Derek T. Dingle and Richard Spiropoulos