Leaving a legacy

From growing up picking cotton to helping put a man on the moon, Dr. Reatha Clark King has paved her own path, making a big impact along the way.
Animation of Dr. Reatha Clark King

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

When Dr. Reatha Clark King from General Mills and Toni Green from the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) created the first Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Breakfast in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 31 years ago, they had two main goals: to unite people committed to social justice and to help send more Black students to college.

Those commitments hold true today, and they are more important than ever.

This year’s virtual event featured a bold conversation between Dr. Bernice King, one of King’s daughters, and Ambassador Andrew Young.

To honor Dr. King, proceeds from the event are helping deserving students in the Minneapolis area go to college with UNCF scholarships.

To change the systemic inequality that Black people and other communities of color continue to face in America, brought to light for many by the killing of George Floyd and countless others last year, requires every single one of us to play a role.

“Under Dr. Reatha Clark King’s leadership, General Mills’ philanthropic and community partnerships in support of advancing racial equity and social justice only deepened,” says Nicola Dixon, executive director of the General Mills Foundation. “Collaborating with UNCF to create the MLK Breakfast in Minneapolis was among Reatha’s many legacy contributions, and it reminds us that equity must be everybody’s business.”

You can access the event recording here.

How it all began

Dr. Reatha Clark King grew up picking cotton on a farm in Georgia, but always dreamt of doing more.

She later became a chemist and worked as a “hidden figure” for NASA, helping put a man on the moon.

She then dedicated the next chapter of her life to philanthropy as the president of the General Mills Foundation.

Take a look back at Reatha’s journey and her legacy that lives on today.

Reflecting on a legacy

Jeff Harmening, chairman and CEO of General Mills recently sat down with the living legend to reflect on the impact she’s made and to get her advice for future leaders.

“Dare to dream,” she says.

A call to action

The legacy that Reatha has left is a strong reminder that to advance change, we all must do our part.

At General Mills, we’re committed to racial equity, focusing our efforts where our expertise is most impactful: equitable food access, equity in education and equity in representation.

And while we certainly don’t have all the answers, we publicly share some of the resources we’ve found helpful, including our Allyship tools.

These are materials that can help create a culture of belonging and inclusion for all. They’re available here.

To learn more about our commitment to racial equity, visit

Editor’s note: Dr. Reatha Clark King and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have no familial relation.