A great-grandson of “Aunt Jemima” says that his family legacy will be “erased” now that Quaker Foods plans to eliminate the Aunt Jemima brand of pancake mix and syrup.
“This is an injustice for me and my family. This is part of my history, sir,” said Larnell Evans Sr. to Patch.com. “The racism they talk about, using images from slavery, that comes from the other side — white people.”
The great-grandson went on to say that “it hurts” to know that Quaker Foods’ answer to current events in America is to “erase my great-grandmother’s history.”
Evans, a 66-year-old Marine Corps veteran, is the great-grandson of Anna Short Harrington, who portrayed Aunt Jemima after the death of Nancy Green — the first Aunt Jemima who made her debut at Chicago’s World’s Fair in 1893.
Harrington was born on a South Carolina plantation where her family worked as sharecroppers and was later discovered in 1935 by a Quaker Oats representative at the New York State Fair while serving pancakes, reports Patch.com.
The report added that Harrington later became a national celebrity as her likeness was seen on products and ads while she traveled the country serving pancakes dressed as Aunt Jemima.
“She worked for that Quaker Oats for 20 years,” said Evans. “She traveled all the way around the United States and Canada making pancakes as Aunt Jemima for them. This woman served all those people, and it was after slavery.”
“She worked as Aunt Jemima. That was her job,” he added. “How do you think I feel as a black man sitting here telling you about my family history they’re trying to erase?”
On Wednesday, Quaker Foods announced that it will be eliminating Aunt Jemima in order “to make progress toward racial equality.” The Aunt Jemima brand has been around for the last 130 years.
“How many white people were raised looking at characters like Aunt Jemima at breakfast every morning? How many white corporations made all them profits, and didn’t give us a dime? I think they should have to look at it. They can’t just wipe it out while we still suffer,” said Evans.
In 2014, Evans and D.W. Hunter — another one of Harrington’s great-grandsons — filed a $2 billion lawsuit in federal court in which they sought a portion of future revenue from the pancake brand. The attempt to make Quaker Oats pay restitution ended up failing in federal court.
“After making all that money — and now’s the time when black people are saying we want restitution for slavery — they’re just going to erase history like it didn’t happen?” added Evans. “They’re not going to give us nothing? What gives them the right?”
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