So, the Quaker Oats and PepsiCo Companies just all of sudden realized 131 years later that the mammy-like caricature, the Aunt Jemima brand is racist. Growing up, I remember seeing these slaves on the box (Aunt Jemima, Cream of Wheat, and Uncle Ben's) in my cabinets not knowing the history.
The removal of the Confederate flags, statues, and now stereotypical images is just one step of many that this country needs to recognize that African Americans have been dealing with this racism on a daily basis.
The Aunt Jemima image has evolved over the years from a dark-skinned, obese, wide white-eyed, big red lips, wearing a bandana with broken English language saying "Ise in town, Honey," "Tempt Yo' Appetite, and "Perk up yo' family's appetite with Aunt Jemima Buckwheats" to a slim, brown-skinned woman with a perm with curls and wearing pearl earrings.
For the past couple of years, I have been collecting memorabilia, researching, and traveling to locate the history of several women who portrayed Aunt Jemima either by appearances at events and/or on the radio.
Nancy Green was the first woman to portray Aunt Jemima. She was born a slave in 1834 in Kentucky. She moved to Chicago to work as a caretaker.
Chris Rutt and Charles Underwood of the Pearl Milling Co. developed Aunt Jemima, in 1889 and sold the Aunt Jemima Manufacturing Co. to R.T. Davis in 1890. R.T. Davis discovered and hired Green as the spokesperson at the age of 56. She made her first debut in 1893 at the World’s Colombian Exposition in Chicago where she sold 50,000 orders of pancake mix. Her storytelling and motherly personality proclaimed her the "Pancake Queen." Green was a founding member of Olivet Baptist Church in Chicago.
On September 14, 1923, Nancy Green, at the age of 89, was killed when she was hit by a car driven by Dr. H.S. Seymour. She is buried in an unmarked pauper's grave at Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago. She is buried somewhere in Section R3, Lot 2.91
In the USA Today 2014 article, a lawsuit for $2 billion was filed on behalf of Green’s heirs and descendants of other women who portrayed Jemima against PepsiCo for royalties
Driving into Hawkins, TX, you will see a sign that says "Welcome to the City of Hawkins, Pancake Capital of Texas, Home of Lillian Richard, Aunt Jemima.
Richard was born on March 23, 1891. In 1925 Richard traveled around the country portraying Aunt Jemima. She retired in 1940 after working for Quaker Oats for 23 years when she suffered a stroke.
Richard died July 4, 1956, and is buried at Fouke Memorial Cemetery in TX. In 2001, the city council of Hawkins declared Lillian Richard Day. There is a historical marker dedicated to Lillian Richard outside of Hawkins, TX.