A great-grandson of "Aunt Jemima" is expressing his outrage after Quaker Oats announced that the Aunt Jemima brand would be killed off after 131 years due to "racial stereotypes."
Larnell Evans Sr. told Patch Chicago:
"This is an injustice for me and my family. This is part of my history, sir. 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. A black female ... It hurts."
The first Aunt Jemima was Nancy Green, a woman who was born into slavery and eventually became a national celebrity as the first living face of a brand.
Green "was known as a magnificent cook, an attractive woman of outgoing nature and friendly personality, an original painting of whom sold for $9,030 at MastroNet." She also became a philanthropist and one of the organizers of the Olivet Baptist Church in Chicago.
After Green was killed when struck by a car on a sidewalk, Anna Short Harrington was discovered by a Quaker Oats representative in 1935 while serving up her pancakes, a favorite of local frat boys, at the New York State Fair. Harrington — Larnell Evans' great-grandmother, became the new face of Aunt Jemima.
Quaker Oats used Harrington's likeness on products and advertising. They sent her around the country to serve pancakes dressed as "Aunt Jemima." She also became a national celebrity.
Her grandson, Evans, who is a 66-year-old retired Marine vet, also said to Patch Chicago:
"She worked for that Quaker Oats for 20 years. 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? ...
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?"