Chicago Sun-Times

Fam­i­lies of Aunt Jemima brand mod­els op­pose Quaker Oats’ planned changes

- BY KELLY TYKO USA To­day Slavery · Society · Kentucky · Louisville · Hawkins, TX · Texas · New Jersey · Alabama · New York City · Quaker 100% Natural Granola · Mt. Sterling, KY · Lillian · Texas Legislature · Austin, TX · Girl Scouts of the USA · Morristown

Two fam­i­lies of women who por­trayed Aunt Jemima say they op­pose Quaker Oats’ plans to re­name the brand of syrup and pan­cake mixes and change the iconic fig­ure.

Quaker Oats an­nounced last month it would re­tire Aunt Jemima be­cause it’s “based on a racial stereo­type,” say­ing its prior work to up­date the char­ac­ter was “not enough.”

The move, con­sid­ered long over­due by ex­perts, his­to­ri­ans and some con­sumers, was the first in a se­ries of re­brand­ing an­nounce­ments that grew to in­clude Un­cle Ben’s, Mrs. But­ter­worth’s, Cream of Wheat and Eskimo Pie.

The first Aunt Jemima image was based on Ken­tucky na­tive Nancy Green, a Civil War-era slave from Mount Ster­ling, ac­cord­ing to the Louisville Courier-Jour­nal.

Orig­i­nally, Aunt Jemima was shown with a wide smile and wear­ing a ban­danna in her hair, an image ac­cused of en­cour­ag­ing racist stereo­types. In 1989, the image was re­vamped, with the new model wear­ing pearl ear­rings with straight­ened curls.

Anna Short Har­ring­ton is be­lieved to be the model af­ter Green.

Lar­nell Evans Sr., Har­ring­ton’s great­grand­son, told Patch that he was hurt and of­fended by the brand’s de­ci­sion.

“This is an in­jus­tice for me and my fam­ily. This is part of my history,” Evans told Patch. “The racism they talk about, us­ing images from slav­ery, that comes from the other side — white peo­ple. This com­pany prof­its off images of our slav­ery. And their an­swer is to erase my great-grand­mother’s history.”

The fam­ily of Lil­lian Richard, a na­tive of Hawkins, Texas, also spoke out against the re­brand­ing de­ci­sion.

Richard was the face of Aunt Jemima from 1925 to 1940, a Texas CBS sta­tion re­ported, not­ing signs into the town say “Home of Lil­lian Richard ‘Aunt Jemima.’” In 1995, the Texas Leg­is­la­ture passed a res­o­lu­tion declar­ing Hawkins as the “Pan­cake Cap­i­tal of Texas.”

“I wish we would take a breath and not just get rid of ev­ery­thing, be­cause good or bad, it is our history,” Vera Har­ris, fam­ily his­to­rian for the Richard fam­ily, told KLTV. “Re­mov­ing that wipes away a part of me. A part of each of us. We are proud of our cousin.”

Ethel Ernes­tine Harper, the last woman whose face ap­peared on the brand, later be­came a cel­e­brated teacher of Black history through schools, in the Girl Scouts and as a top­i­cal ra­dio host in her adopted home­town of Mor­ris­town, New Jer­sey, re­ported the Mor­ris­town Daily Record.

Harper was born in 1903 in Alabama, where she grew up, earned a col­lege de­gree at age 17 and worked as a teacher be­fore moving to New York to pur­sue a ca­reer in mu­sic.

 ?? AP ?? Pep­sico is chang­ing the name and mar­ket­ing image of its Aunt Jemima pan­cake mix and syrup.
AP Pep­sico is chang­ing the name and mar­ket­ing image of its Aunt Jemima pan­cake mix and syrup.

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