Depiction of Africans Elicits AT&T; Apology

From Associated Press

American Telephone & Telegraph Corp. apologized Thursday after workers and a civil rights group complained about a drawing in this month’s employee magazine that uses a monkey to depict Africans.

The drawing, which appeared on a games page, shows characters on several continents conversing by telephone. All of the characters are human except the one in Africa, which is a monkey.

The company said the drawing, done by a free-lance artist and submitted by an outside design firm that produces the magazine, slipped by its editors.


Mary L. Peeler, executive director of the North Carolina chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, complained about the drawing this week in a letter to AT&T; Chairman Robert E. Allen.

The group is “truly appalled at the humiliating and offensive way AT&T; has chosen to depict persons in Africa,” Peeler said in her letter. “This picture is highly offensive to Africans, to African-Americans and to many AT&T; employees and customers.”

Walter Murphy, AT&T;’s director of corporate information, said the company also was appalled.

“We and everyone here at AT&T; could not be more dismayed that this kind of thing could have gotten by us,” he said.

Murphy said AT&T; no longer is using the artist who drew the illustration and that the New York-based design firm that produces the magazine has dismissed one of its production managers.