NASHVILLE, Tenn.— Officials with PepsiCo Inc. apologized during a meeting Wednesday with relatives of civil rights icon Emmett Till who were offended by a rapper who had a promotional deal with the company, the Rev. Al Sharpton said.

Sharpton said a statement that the morning meeting he brokered at company headquarters in Purchase, N.Y., was “positive.”

PepsiCo and Lil Wayne ended their commercial relationship last week over vulgar lyrics the rapper included in a song that referenced Till, a Black teen who became a civil rights icon after being killed while visiting Mississippi. Sharpton had urged company officials and the family to meet this week.

The company also faced criticism recently over a Mountain Dew commercial by rapper Tyler, the Creator, of Odd Future that critics say promoted racial stereotypes and violence against women. That ad has been pulled.

Rick Ross also recently lost his deal with Reebok after his lyrics appeared to glorify rape by describing a scenario in which he had his way with a woman incapacitated by drugs.

Sharpton says his National Action Network and the Till family will work together to help rappers become “more engaged and conscientious of civil rights history.”

The Till family thanked Sharpton in a statement texted to The Associated Press and noted, “We look forward to on-going and meaningful collaborations which bridge the music community, corporations, grassroots organizations and youth.”

The company declined to comment beyond what had already been issued by Sharpton and the Till family.


Chris Talbott

AP Music Writer