This year marks the 30th anniversary Frito-Lay has paid tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a weeklong and global celebration of diversity and engagement. The above photo shows this year’s leadership team of the events along with Common. (from left to right: Mike Brown, sales zone director, Frito-Lay; Courtney Cola, public relations manager, Frito-Lay; Steven Williams, CEO, PepsiCo Foods North America; Common, actor and activist and this year’s keynote speaker; Rhasheda Boyd, senior director, marketing, Frito-Lay; and Cyril Wallace, vice president, sales, Atlantic Region, Frito-Lay)

A commitment to diversity and engagement: how Frito-Lay pledges to “Live the Legacy” of MLK, Jr.

by Sabrina Corsiga, Special Contributor | January 17, 2020

For three decades, Frito-Lay North America, a division of PepsiCo, has paid tribute to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a weeklong and global celebration of diversity and engagement. In its 30th year of bringing excitement and inspiration to the company’s Plano headquarters, Frito-Lay set its celebratory theme for 2020 to “Live the Legacy” of Dr. King with the goal to continue rallying toward a vision and dream for community, change and equality.

The event, which is led by Frito-Lay’s employee resource group for African American associates, is part of PepsiCo’s year-long commitment to diversity and engagement. This year’s celebration kicked off with a series of events to ignite the passion for change, including panel discussions, a film screening, various diversity workshops and a community service fair in support of Frito-Lay’s Southern Dallas Thrives initiative.

“At the heart of PepsiCo and Frito-Lay is our people, and a commitment to celebrating different perspectives and diversity at every level of the organization,” said Merary Simeon, vice president, diversity, PepsiCo. “Thirty years ago, we started our annual event that showcases the importance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, and we’re proud to say it’s become one of our biggest diversity and engagement events of the year, engaging thousands of employees across PepsiCo. Our weeklong celebration encourages our associates to advocate for change and equality for all.”

Each year, the event is immensely supported by the PepsiCo and Frito-Lay leadership teams and attracts inspiring guest speakers for the annual celebration. For 2020, speaker Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. AKA Common, closed out the MLK celebration with a moving keynote address. As an Academy Award, Golden Globe, Emmy and Grammy-winning artist, actor and activist, Common is actively engaged in social justice and advocacy work around mass incarceration, mental health and voting.

“Our employee resource group, Mosaic – which supports the growth of black associates at PepsiCo – plans for our Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration all year long,” said William Langford, vice president, sales, and executive sponsor of Mosaic. “As the executive sponsor of Mosaic, I am so proud of the work we are doing to involve associates across PepsiCo to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy. Dr. King’s legacy was about equality, and while have made tremendous progress in our company and in our communities, there is still much work to be done as there are many communities and individuals that are not benefiting from the progress. Our MLK Day event  reminds and challenges us all to be a part of the change by living Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy.”

New to this year’s week of events was a Community Service Award, offered by Frito-Lay to any PepsiCo employee who has made significant contributions to their community. The award recognizes individuals that serve as role models, lead with compassion, and are dedicated to making their community a better place. With the award, Frito-Lay aims to increase employee awareness and involvement with Southern Dallas Thrives and actively engage employees.  

To learn more about Frito-Lay’s community outreach, visit

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