The family of a Texas woman who once portrayed Aunt Jemima has called on the breakfast brand to reconsider its decision to scrap the ubiquitous fixture from its products.
Vera Harris said the family takes pride in Quaker Oates scouting her second cousin Lillian Richard to become a brand representative in 1925, news station KLTV reported.
“She was considered a hero in [her hometown of] Hawkins, and we are proud of that. We do not want that history erased,” Harris said.
Harris said Richard worked for the company for 23 years, traveling around as Aunt Jemima to serve pancakes until she suffered a stroke.
“She made an honest living out of it for a number of years. She toured around Texas,” Harris said, noting there “wasn’t a lot of jobs, especially for black women back in that time.”
Harris said the family was upset by Quaker Oates’ announcement last week that it would rebrand Aunt Jemima products because the character’s origins are “based on a racial stereotype.”
“We want the world to know that our cousin Lillian was one of the Aunt Jemimas and she made an honest living. We would ask that you reconsider just wiping all that away,” Harris said.
“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.”