Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, has taken merchandise with the slogan "All Lives Matter" off its website after concerns from staff and customers, as well as criticism on social media, that the motto has been used to downplay racial inequity.
Sales of the products, added to Walmart's site by third-party retailers amid the "Black Lives Matter" movement for social justice, will be halted indefinitely, the company said. It has no plans to remove variations such as “Blue Lives Matter," which refers to the color of uniforms worn by many police officers.
"We fundamentally believe all lives do matter and every individual deserves respect,'' a Walmart spokesperson told FOX Business. "However, as we listened, we came to understand that the way some, but not all, people are using the phrase 'All Lives Matter' in the current environment intentionally minimized the focus on the painful reality of racial inequity."
Walmart emphasized that the lives being impacted by racial injustice are the "lives of black people and people of color." It also promised to increase scrutiny of various "Lives Matter" products on its third-party marketplace to make sure they comply with the retailer's policies.
Days before Walmart reversed course, the retailer faced backlash on social media over the sale of "All Lives Matter" and "Blue Lives Matter" products.
The Black Lives Matter movement emerged amid anger over the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012. As a slogan, “Black Lives Matter” soon became as widely heard at protests as “No justice, no peace.”
The movement has been reinvigorated by the death of George Floyd, a black man in police custody in Minneapolis, this spring.
Walmart made the decision to drop the "All Lives Matter" merchandise as some of the largest U.S. companies pledge solidarity with black Americans, conceding that efforts to recruit, maintain and promote minorities within their own ranks have fallen short.
Firms such as Amazon and Starbucks are prominently displaying the "Black Lives Matter" motto on their websites and social media pages and outlining how they plan to combat racial inequity.
In an open letter earlier this month, Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart promised to overcome the "structures of systemic racism" and "create a more diverse and inclusive team" at every level of its operations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.