KEY POINTS

  • Aunt Jemima model's great-grandson says it hurts when family's history is erased
  • The Aunt Jemima food staple will be rebranded because it has "racist origin."
  • Quaker Oats said a new pancake and syrup brand will replace Aunt Jemima this year

The great-grandson of the actress whose image appears on the famous Aunt Jemima food products, which is owned by Quaker Oats, said that the company's decision to "retire" her in the wake of the racial unrest happening in America is "an injustice."

Larnell Evans Sr., 66, said in an interview with Patch that erasing his great-grandmother's face on pancake mixes and syrups "hurts" his family.

"This is part of my history. The racism they talk about, using images from slavery, that comes from the other side — white people," Evans said. "This company profits off images of our slavery. And their answer is to erase my great-grandmother's history — a black female. It hurts."

Aunt Jemima is Anna Short Harrington, who played the character in advertisements and promotions from 1935 to 1954.

Born in South Carolina in 1897, Harrington worked as a maid for a white family and then later served as a cook for the Kappa Sigma fraternity in Syracuse, New York. It was where a representative from Quaker Oats discovered her as she was serving pancakes to white college boys.

Her stint as Aunt Jemima made her a household name and a celebrity. Her great-grandson said that she went around the U.S. and Canada as her character for Quaker Oats for 20 years and served pancakes to people.

"How do you think I feel as a black man sitting here telling you about my family history they're trying to erase?" Evans asked. He wants Quaker Oats and other "white corporations” to offer restitution instead of erasing his great-grandmother from history.

14724569339_2594b6f645_k Quaker Oats is rebranding and removing its Aunt Jemima food products in the wake of the racism storm in America. Photo: Flickr

Quaker Oats announced on Wednesday (June 17) that it will be removing Harrington’s image in their line of breakfast staples as her "origins are based on a racial stereotype." The choice to discontinue her image was pushed by the recent discourse regarding racism, which is still gaining ground.

"While work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realize those changes are not enough," Quaker Foods North America vice president and chief marketing officer Kristin Kroepfl said in a statement.

In discontinuing Aunt Jemima, Quaker Oats said that it will have a new pancake mix and syrup available in stores later this year. The company also said that it will set up a $400-million initiative "to lift up black communities and increase black representation" under its parent company PepsiCo.