Last week, Quaker Oats announced they would retire the Aunt Jemima brand of pancake mix and syrup, saying that the brand was insensitive.
Aunt Jemima’s own great-grandson, however, begs to differ.
Larnell Evans, Sr., called the destruction of his great-grandmother’s legacy an “injustice.”
“This is an injustice for me and my family. This is part of my history, sir,” Larnell Evans Sr. said, in an interview with the media. “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.”
Evans’ great-grandmother, Anna Short Harrington, was the second African-American woman to play the role of Aunt Jemima for Quaker Oats, beginning in 1935.
Harrington’s likeness appeared on products and in advertising materials. The company also sent her around the country dressed as the character “Aunt Jemima,” as a brand ambassador.
Quaker Oats reportedly also used Harrington’s pancake recipe as part of their packaging.
Despite the use of African-American women to promote the product line, however, the name “Aunt Jemima” was first made famous as a character in a minstrel show–a stereotypical servant played by a white character in blackface.
Despite Evans’ protests, however, the brand will be retired in fall 2020.