Aunt Jemima’s History, based on an East Texas Lillian Richard

We have been slurping and stuffing on Aunt Jemima’s breakfast products since like forever. Aunt Jemima has been sitting in our homes, ready for our aid but little do we know about its origin.

The new controversy Quaker Oats Company has found itself in brought an opportunity to enlighten ourselves with Aunt Jemima’s history and brand’s racist roots.Quaker Oats confessed in a statement that they are aware of the brand’s origin on racial stereotypes.

Adhering to the changing times, the 130-year-old brand will be removing the image in the pancake and syrup giant by the end of 2020 and the replacement of name will be done sometime later.

Aunt Jemima's History, based on an East Texas Lillian Richard
Aunt Jemima’s History, based on an East Texas Lillian Richard

The criticism caught spark amidst the ongoing worldwide protests against racism.

“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype, as we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations,” said Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Quaker Foods.

Aunt Jemima is based on a “mammy” stereotype. Mammy is one of the figures rooted in the history of slavery in the United States, a black woman serving a white family. It reinforces the traditional racial custom that slave black women were supposed to work for white households. 

One of the women who was an inspiration for the image of Aunt Jemima was an East Texas lady named Lillian Richard.Lillian began promoting the brand and became the face for the products from the year 1925 to 1940. In 1995, Lillian Richard was rewarded with a tribute by naming Hawkins (her birthplace) “Pancake Capital of Texas”.

Bessie Peeples, an African American living in Fourke, talks about Being proud of Lillian for portraying Aunt Jemima.
“I’m proud of the fact that back during that time, she was a Black woman, and I understand that she is just one of the faces of Aunt Jemima. But she made it a career, and I associated it with authenticity,” remarked Peeples.

Lillian Richard succumbed to death on July 2, 1956, but she will always be an inspiration for the people of Texas who especially associate with her as a fellow resident and for many people from the black community.