Great-Grandson of 'Aunt Jemima' Furious Legacy Will Be Erased
'This is an injustice for me and my family'
Last week Neon Nettle reported Quaker Oats' move to rebrand its pancake brand Aunt Jemima amid a liberal online backlash over its 'racial stereotype.'
The syrup company said they would be scrapping its name and logo, which includes the face of a black woman, “to make progress toward racial equality.”
The Aunt Jemima brand has been known for 130 years.
Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Quaker Foods North America, Kristin Kroepfl, said in a statement:
“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype."
"While work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realize those changes are not enough.”
“We acknowledge the brand has not progressed enough to appropriately reflect the confidence, warmth, and dignity that we would like it to stand for today,” Kroepfl added.
“We are starting by removing the image and changing the name."
"We will continue the conversation by gathering diverse perspectives from both our organization and the Black community to evolve the brand further and make it one everyone can be proud to have in their pantry.”
But the great-grandson of “Aunt Jemima,” Larnell Evans, was not happy about his great-grandmother’s legacy being erased.
“This is an injustice for me and my family,” Evans, 66, told Patch reporter Mark Konkol.
“This is part of my history, sir," he stated.
"The racism they talk about, using images from slavery, that comes from the other side — white people," he continued.
"This company profits off images of our slavery. And their answer is to erase my great-grandmother’s history. A black female. … It hurts.”
Patch reported that Evans’ now-deceased great-grandmother Anna Short Harrington took over for Nancy Green, the first “Aunt Jemima,” following Green’s death in 1923.
Harrington “was discovered by a Quaker Oats representative while serving up her pancakes, a favorite of local frat boys, at the New York State Fair in 1935,” the report outlined. “Quaker Oats used Harrington’s likeness on products and advertising, and it sent her around the country to serve flapjacks dressed as ‘Aunt Jemima.’ The gig made her a national celebrity.”
In 2014, Evans and a nephew of Harrington’s filed a lawsuit against Quaker Oats for not paying royalties to descendants of Harrington’s.
A federal judge in Chicago dismissed the suit with prejudice.
“She worked for that Quaker Oats for 20 years,” Evans said, according to Patch.
“She traveled all the way around the United States and Canada, making pancakes as Aunt Jemima for them."
"This woman served all those people, and it was after slavery. She worked as Aunt Jemima. That was her job. … How do you think I feel as a black man sitting here telling you about my family history they’re trying to erase?”
“How many white people were raised looking at characters like Aunt Jemima at breakfast every morning?” he asked.
“How many white corporations made all them profits, and didn’t give us a dime? I think they should have to look at it. They can’t just wipe it out while we still suffer.”
“After making all that money —and now’s the time when black people are saying we want restitution for slavery — they’re just going to erase history like it didn’t happen?” Evans added.
“They’re not going to give us nothing? What gives them the right?”
The new packaging will be unveiled in fall 2020, with the product line’s new name revealed at a later date.