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Family Members of Aunt Jemima Actresse Push Back on Name Change

By | On June 26, 2020

Aunt Jemima brand syrup and pancake mix will be getting a new name and image after Quaker deemed the current packaging to be "based on a racial stereotype." The 130-year-old brand started out by featuring a Black woman named Aunt Jemima on their packaging that was dressed as a minstrel character. The Aunt Jemima imagery later changed, but Quaker announced that removing the image and name is part of an effort by the company "to make progress toward racial equality."

Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, shared a press release, which reads: "We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype. As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations."

Quaker revealed that the new packaging will begin to appear in the fall of 2020, with the new name to follow. The company has also pledged at least $5 million over the next five years "to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community."

Update 06/25/2020 10:03am:

After Quaker announced that it will be changing the name and imagery of Aunt Jemima pancake mix and syrup, the families of former Aunt Jemima ambassadors are speaking out.

Larnell Evans Sr., 66, is the great-grandson of Anna Short Harrington, who portrayed Aunt Jemima from 1935 to 1954, and he believes Quaker is trying to erase his grandmother's history. He told Patch.com, "This is part of my history, sir. 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 added, "This woman served all those people, and it was after slavery. She worked 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 they’re trying to erase?"

Vera Harris, family historian and great-niece to Lillian Richard, who became an ambassador of Aunt Jemima around the same time as Harrington, feels the same time as Evans. Harris stated, "We just don't want my aunt's legacy -- what she did making an honest living at the time -- to be wiped away. Her story should not be erased from history."

Source: NBC News



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