The Controversy Unveiled
The recent decision by Quaker Foods to rebrand Aunt Jemima has caused quite a stir among many people, including Larnell Evans Sr., the great-grandson of the original Aunt Jemima. In an interview with Patch, Evans expressed his fury and disappointment at the erasure of his family’s history and the legacy of Aunt Jemima.
Evans is deeply saddened that cancel culture is overlooking the true heritage of Aunt Jemima and attributing racism to the use of depictions from slavery. He emphasizes that the origins of Aunt Jemima come from a black woman named Nancy Green, who first portrayed Aunt Jemima in 1893. Green, a former slave, served pancakes to fairgoers at the Chicago World’s Fair while donning an apron and headscarf. She continued in this role until her passing in 1923, when Evans’ grandmother, Anna Short Harrington, took over.
Celebrating Anna Short Harrington
Evans takes pride in recounting the achievements of his grandmother as Aunt Jemima. Anna Short Harrington, who had previously worked as a chef at Syracuse University, gained recognition for her delicious pancakes. It was during the 1935 New York State Fair that a Quaker Foods employee discovered her and her homemade pancakes. Impressed by her skills, the company employed Harrington and showcased her image in their advertisements and product packaging. She became a household name, serving pancakes all over the United States and Canada during her 20-year tenure with Quaker Oats.
Fighting for Recognition
Despite her iconic status and the company’s use of her image, Harrington’s heirs attempted to sue Quaker Foods in 2014 for $3 billion in unpaid royalties but were unsuccessful. Evans argues that instead of erasing history, Quaker Foods should acknowledge and honor the fact that they profited from the likenesses of Nancy Green, Anna Short Harrington, and even images of slavery.
Reflecting on the Past
Evans offers a thought-provoking question: how many white people grew up watching Aunt Jemima cartoons while enjoying breakfast? And how many white businesses made substantial profits without giving anything in return? He urges Quaker Foods to reflect on the past and the ongoing suffering rather than simply erasing it.
Embracing the Future
Quaker Foods remains resolute in their decision to remove the Aunt Jemima branding and artwork from all their products by the end of the year. While this decision may mark the end of an era, the conversation surrounding the legacy of Aunt Jemima and the need for recognition and restitution for past injustices continues.
Remembering Real People
As we navigate the future, it is crucial to remember the real people who brought Aunt Jemima to life and the impact it had on their lives and society as a whole. Let us honor their contributions and strive for a more inclusive and equitable world.