'We Took a Negative and Turned It Into a Positive': Men Arrested at Starbucks Speak Out After Reaching Settlement
"We can keep moving forward like we truly want to."
The two black men arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks last month spoke out after reaching a settlement with the city for a symbolic $1 each and a $200,000 pledge from Philadelphia to fund a program for young entrepreneurs.
“We took a negative and turned it into a positive… we can keep moving forward like we truly want to,” Donte Robinson told Robin Roberts on Good Morning America (GMA) Thursday, alongside his friend who was also arrested, Rashon Nelson.
Robinson said the city-funded foundation will focus on teaching students not only about entrepreneurship, but also etiquette and financial literacy.
“The most important thing is the foundation,” Nelson said. “The fact that we have a seat at the table, to work on reforms to be included in racial bias training. And hopefully other companies will take what Starbucks is putting into perspective, and [they’ll] follow.”
The two men said they will participate in Starbucks’ company-wide racial bias training happening later this month alongside former Attorney General Eric Holder, who has been an advocate for Robinson and Nelson.
Additionally, Robinson said Starbucks offered to help the men pay for classes needed to finish the remainder of their Bachelor’s degrees.
“They did [this] through dialogue and cooperation,” Robinson and Nelson’s attorney, Stewart Cohen, said on GMA. “The CEO of Starbucks is going to personally mentor these two young men going forward.
“After they met, he was so impressed, and they were so impressed with one another, that they’re going to have a continuing relationship,” Cohen added. “So not only do they have a seat at the table, and not only do we have this settlement, but we have the beginning of a relationship.”
Cohen noted that the $200,000 grant from Philadelphia will likely only last for a year, but Robinson and Nelson are committed to extending their program beyond that.
“The goal is to bring people together so we can continue this for generation after generation,” Nelson said. “This is not something that we just want to do for a year with the grant that we are blessed with. This is something we want to bring people together and get commitments so that people can come together and we can raise money and we can continue this program not just in Philadelphia, but in cities worldwide.”