Larnell Evans Sr., the great-grandson of Anna Short Harrington, who portrayed the Aunt Jemima character for nearly 20 years, has expressed anger over Quaker Oats’ decision to change the logo and name of its pancake mix and syrup.
Harrington, who held the role from 1935 to 1954, was discovered while cooking pancakes at the 1935 New York State Fair and became the third person to portray Aunt Jemima.
Quaker Oats, based in Chicago, announced the elimination of the Aunt Jemima brand in response to civil unrest following the death of George Floyd.
Evans, a Marine Corps veteran residing in North Carolina, criticized the decision, calling it an injustice to his family’s history. He argued against erasing Harrington’s legacy, emphasizing that she served people after the era of slavery and worked as Aunt Jemima as her job.
Harrington, a Syracuse resident, was known for her role as Aunt Jemima, touring North America to promote the brand. Despite being part of a controversial character associated with racial stereotypes, Evans contends that Quaker Oats should acknowledge the history rather than attempting to erase it.
Quaker Oats has pledged to reveal a new name for its pancake mix and syrup later. The decision to rebrand Aunt Jemima comes amid a broader movement addressing racial issues and reconsidering symbols tied to historical stereotypes.