Quaker Oates recently announced their decision to rebrand the infamous Aunt Jemima brand as a step towards racial equality. Yet, the family of the woman who represents the brand has asked the company to take a second look at their decision.
Lillian Richard, considered a hero in her hometown of Hawkins, Texas, represented the Aunt Jemima brand for 23 years. A career she has “made an honest living out of,” as well as one her family is proud of.
Richard was the face of Aunt Jemima from 1925 to 1940, a time very few Black women had job opportunities.
“We do not want that history erased,” Vera Harris, Richard’s second cousin explained. “We would ask that you reconsider just wiping that away.”
“I wish we would take a breath and not just get rid of everything, because good or bad, it is our history. Removing that wipes away a part of me — a part of each of us,” Harris said.
The breakfast food brand announced its decision to change the image and logo last week, acknowledging its origins based on racial stereotypes. Initially, the Aunt Jemima logo featured a black woman dressed as a minstrel character, commonly known as ”mammy,” an older black woman slave who works for and looks after a white family and children. Though the image has changed over time to be ”appropriate and respectful, Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, said the company has since realized those changes are not enough.