A discussion Wednesday between the family of Emmett Till and officials of PepsiCo over the controversy created by controversial lyrics by the rapper Lil Wayne was “a positive meeting,” according to the Rev. Al Sharpton, who also participated in the talks.
“PepsiCo apologized to the family again and they accepted while agreeing with me that this is a teachable moment and we must work with younger hip hop artists so they know their civil rights history and become more engaged in the community,” Sharpton said, in a statement.
Sharpton, the president of the National Action Network and the host of a program on MSNBC, became involved in what has become a national issue involving the rapper and the family of Till, the African-American teenager whose 1955 murder in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman was a signature moment in the civil rights movement.
Lil Wayne had a multi-million dollar endorsement deal with Mountain Dew. However the family of Till said they were offended by lyrics referring to Emmett Till that were performed by Lil Wayne on a remix of “Karate Chop,” by the rapper Future. The family said it would seek to persuade the company to drop the rapper and his endorsement deal. That is precisely what PepsiCo did.
Lil Wayne did not participate in the meeting, nor did any of his representatives.
In his statement, Sharpton said the National Action Network “doesn’t want the end result to be the penalization of artists — although they clearly need to be corrected — but rather them becoming more engaged and conscientious of civil rights history.”
He added that he and the National Action Network “agreed to work as partners to try and sit down with younger hip-hop artists, corporate executives, and people in the civil rights community.”
The controversy has been brewing for months, with complaints coming from a wide range of people, including Stevie Wonder, after the Till Family wrote an open letter in which Airickca Gordon-Taylor, a family spokesperson, wrote in a letter to Lil Wayne. It said, “when you spit lyrics” like these, “not only are you destroying the preservation and legacy of Emmett Till’s memory and name, but the impact of his murder in black history along with degradation of women.”
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(Photo: Tribune File Photo/Till Family Photo)