NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The family of Emmett Till says a letter from Lil Wayne fell short of an apology for his crude reference to the civil rights martyr, and they want a meeting with the rapper and representatives from PepsiCo to discuss their commercial partnership.
A publicist for the Rev. Al Sharpton says he is attempting to arrange a meeting between the parties to work out differences over Wayne's vulgar reference to Till in a song lyric. Wayne has a contract to promote PepsiCo product Mountain Dew.
Lil Wayne's letter, which appears on Young Money Entertainment letterhead and was provided to The Associated Press by the family, offered empathy and outlined corrective measures regarding the offensive lyrics in the song, but stopped short of apologizing.
"I was not impressed," said Airickca Gordon-Taylor, a cousin of Till's.
Gordon-Taylor said it was disappointing because there was no apology, it came more than 75 days after the song hit the Internet and it actually was leaked on the Internet before the family received it. Wayne's representatives tell the family there was an attempt to hand deliver the letter.
"I think that he's kind of been pressured or he's been admonished to make a statement to the family because of the ongoing negative publicity and attention and the pressure we've put onto his endorsement with Mountain Dew," she said in a phone interview from Chicago. "I feel like it was an acknowledgment. He has finally, publicly acknowledged the ongoing outcry. It was not an apology. ... However, I think it's a start. I think the door is now open for us to have a sit-down, to have a dialogue."
The New Orleans rapper made the brief offensive reference to Till in a guest appearance on Future's song "Karate Chop" earlier this year. In just seven words, he refers to beating someone during a sexual act and uses an obscenity. He says he wants to do as much damage as was done to Till.
The black teen from Chicago was in Mississippi visiting family in 1955 when he was killed — allegedly for whistling at a white woman. He was beaten, had his eyes gouged out and was shot in the head before his assailants tied a cotton gin fan to his body with barbed wire and tossed it into the Tallahatchie River. Two white men, including the woman's husband, were acquitted by an all-white jury.
Till's body was recovered and returned to Chicago where his mother, Mamie Till, insisted on having an open casket at his funeral. The pictures of his battered body helped push civil rights into the cultural conversation.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson reached out to Epic Records on the family's behalf when the song leaked on the Internet in February and its chairman, LA Reid, apologized.
At the time, Gordon-Taylor, founding director of the Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation, asked Wayne to apologize. He has made no comment, though Jackson described him as cooperative.