The Legacy of “Aunt Jemima” and the Unsettling Decision to Retire the Brand

"Aunt Jemima's" great-grandson angry that her legacy is being scrapped: "It's injustice to my family"

Quaker Oats caused quite a stir in 2020 when it announced that it would be retiring the “Aunt Jemima” brand in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. However, not everyone is on board with this decision. Larnell Evans Sr., a Marine Corps veteran and great-grandson of “Aunt Jemima,” spoke out against it, expressing his family’s belief that erasing the brand would also erase a part of black history and the suffering endured by his ancestors.

Evans passionately stated, “This is an injustice for me and my family. This is part of my history. The company profits off images of our slavery, and their answer is to erase my great-grandmother’s history. It hurts.” He criticized the corporation for benefiting from the exploitation of the image of a black woman and then conveniently discarding it.

The “Aunt Jemima” brand, known for its logo featuring Nancy Green, a formerly enslaved black woman, will be retired permanently. Quaker Oats described Green as a “storyteller, cook, and missionary worker” but failed to acknowledge her history of being born into slavery. Green was initially hired to serve pancakes at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, marking the first instance of the “Aunt Jemima” brand name. After her passing in 1923, Anna Short Harrington, whom Evans claims was his great-grandmother, assumed the role in 1935 after a Quaker Oats representative noticed her serving pancakes at the New York State Fair.

Evans highlighted his great-grandmother’s dedication, stating, “She worked for Quaker Oats for 20 years, traveling throughout the United States and Canada, making pancakes 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 that they’re trying to erase?”

What dismays Evans even more is that the corporation has profited from a racial stereotype for years and is now attempting to distance itself from it without making amends. He questions the fairness of this approach, asking, “How many white people were raised looking at characters like Aunt Jemima every morning? How many white corporations made all the profits and didn’t give us a dime? They’re just going to erase history like it didn’t happen? What gives them the right?”

The retirement of the “Aunt Jemima” brand has sparked intense debate. Where do you stand on this matter? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box. If you support the Black Lives Matter movement and all it represents, share this article on Facebook.