2020-06-22 19:40:50 UTC
By Daniella Genovese
Published 3 hours ago
The families of two women who portrayed Quaker Oats' Aunt Jemima
expressed concerns about the company's decision to scrap the
controversial branding, saying it could erase their family histories.
Relatives of the late Lillian Richard and Anna Short Harrington, two
women who were hired by Quaker Oats to portray the character in the
1920s and 1930s, spoke out this week after PepsiCo's Quaker Oats said
the brand's "origins are based on a racial stereotype."
The Aunt Jemima brand originally depicted a heavy-set black woman
wearing the garb of a kitchen maid and a kerchief commonly worn by
Representatives for Quaker Oats did not immediately respond to FOX
Business' request for comment.
"This is an injustice for me and my family. This is part of my history,
sir," Larnell Evans Sr., a great-grandson of Harrington, told
Patch.com. "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."
Harrington began appearing on the company's products after being
discovered by Quaker Oats in 1935, Evans told Patch.com. She toured the
country serving pancakes while clad in the Aunt Jemima get-up, he said.
"This woman served all those people, and it was after slavery," he
said. "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?"
Around the same time, Richard, from Hawkins, Texas, became an
ambassador for the brand after being discovered by the company in
nearby Dallas, according to Vera Harris, family historian and
great-niece to Richard.
At the time, promoting the brand around Texas was considered an
"honorable job," Harris told FOX Business, adding that the "Richard
family was proud of her."
The family understands the company's decision to rebrand, but they are
concerned about what it will mean for Richard's legacy, Harris said.
"We just don't want my aunt's legacy -- what she did making an honest
living at the time -- to be wiped away," she said. "Her story should
not be erased from history."
Richard had worked for the company for roughly 23 years before passing
away in 1965, according to historical documents obtained by the Harris
"If we wipe out our history, we have nothing to strive for in the
future," she added. "Our history will help us prosper in the future."
In the wake of Quaker Oats' decision, more companies announced plans to
revisit their branding, including B&G Foods' Cream of Wheat, Conagra
Brands Inc.'s Mrs. Butterworth, and Mars Inc's Uncle Ben's.