“Quaker Oats’ Bold Statement: The Evolution of the ‘Aunt Jemima’ Brand”

The day after the public announcement of the decision, a great-grandson of the iconic figure “Aunt Jemima” expressed strong opposition to the choice, believing it would effectively erase black history and suffering. He voiced concerns that his family and he would bear the consequences of this decision. Larnell Evans Sr., a former Marine Corps member, emphasized that this was a part of his family’s history. He pointed out that the company had profited from slavery for a significant period before being tasked with contributing to its abolition.

Evans highlighted that businesses often profit from depictions of black enslavement and that they were now trying to erase his great-grandmother’s past as a non-white woman, which he found painful. According to Quaker Oats, the brand would be discontinued indefinitely. The product’s logo featured a black woman named Nancy Green, who had once been a slave but was described in company archives as a “storyteller, cook, and missionary worker.”

Nancy Green first adopted the “Aunt Jemima” brand name in 1893 when she secured a contract to serve pancakes at the Chicago World’s Fair. After the passing of Anna Short Harrington in 1923, a Quaker Oats representative gave her the name “Aunt Jemima” because of her pancake-serving role at the New York State Fair. Anna Short Harrington was laid to rest with the name “Aunt Jemima,” as confirmed by her grandson, Larnell Evans Sr. She assumed the role in 1935 and had worked for Quaker Oats for the preceding two decades. As Aunt Jemima, she traveled across the United States and Canada, preparing pancakes for people.

Despite having been enslaved earlier in life, she provided care and culinary services to many. “Aunt Jemima” was her professional alias, and she supervised the process. Larnell Evans Sr. expressed his frustration that Quaker Oats had profited from a racial stereotype and was now swiftly moving to erase it. He pointed out that Quaker Oats had plans to remove the brand in the near future.

Evans questioned how many white individuals grew up watching Aunt Jemima every morning while having breakfast and how many white-owned businesses had reaped significant profits without providing assistance to the black community. He wondered whether they would simply ignore the past and not acknowledge their responsibilities. He was clearly dismayed by their ability to make such decisions.

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