“This is an injustice for me and my family. This is part of my history, sir,” Evans said.
By David Isaac, World Israel News
Quaker Oats thought it was parading its anti-racist bona fides with its June 17 announcement that it would remove the image of Aunt Jemima from the packaging and change the brand name of its popular maple syrup and pancake mix.
The company may end up having done the opposite. Larnell Evans Sr., great-grandson of the woman whose likeness was on the package, told website the Patch, that the company is erasing his family history.
“This is an injustice for me and my family. This is part of my history, sir,” Evans said. “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.”
In the wake of protests following the killing of George Floyd on May 25, Quaker Oats said that the Aunt Jemima products “are based on a racial stereotype.”
Evans’ great-grandmother, Anna Short Harrington, was not the first Aunt Jemina. But she replaced a former slave, Nancy Green, a Chicago cook who was hired to serve pancakes at the Chicago’s World’s Fair in 1893. She played the role of Aunt Jemima until she died in 1923.
Harrington, who was born on a plantation to sharecroppers, took over. “She was discovered by a Quaker Oats representative while serving up her pancakes, a favorite of local frat boys, at the New York State Fair in 1935,” Patch reports.
According to Patch, Quaker Oats put Harrington’s image on its products and advertising and she was sent around the U.S. serving flapjacks as “Aunt Jemima.”
“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,” Evans told Patch.
“This woman served all those people, and it was after slavery. She worked as Aunt Jemima. That was her job,” he said. “How do you think I feel as a black man sitting here telling you about my family history they’re trying to erase?”
Evans also claims Quaker Oats used his great-grandmother’s pancake recipe. However, his 2014 lawsuit for $3 billion in restitution from Quaker Oats failed in federal court.