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Family Of Woman Who Portrayed Aunt Jemima Speaks Out About Quaker Oats's Rebranding Decision

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tags: racism, advertising, consumer products



Quaker Oats announced earlier this month it's rebranding Aunt Jemima pancake mix and syrup because of its racist history.

But descendants of Lillian Richard, who portrayed Aunt Jemima for years, say the company decided to rename the brand without consulting the families of the women who brought the character to life.

While Vera Harris, Richard’s niece, supports the decision and the Black Lives Matter movement, Aunt Jemima represents a part of history for her family and the town of Hawkins, Texas.

“Erasing my Aunt Lillian Richard would erase a part of history,” says Harris, who serves as family historian for the Richard family of Hawkins. “All of the people in my family are happy and proud of Aunt Lillian and what she accomplished.”

Aunt Jemima portrays the white, romanticized notion of an Antebellum “mammy,” detached from the cruel reality of enslavement during the late 19th century. The inspiration for the character came from the song “Old Aunt Jemima.” Starting at the World's Fair in 1893, a formerly enslaved woman named Nancy Green was the first to travel around the country wearing an apron and bandana as Aunt Jemima.

Read entire article at WBUR

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