Sherry Williams commentary on Aunt Jemima June 23 2020

Aunt Jemima marketing image.jpg copy 1950's

Hello Friends, members and supporters,

Quaker Oats and PepsiCo Companies PIVOTS from real RACISM dialogue by announcing the removal of Aunt Jemima as one of its long standing brand identities.  Since 1926 Aunt Jemima has graced pancake mix and syrup bottles.   $400 million investment committed for Black inclusion and programs over the next 5 years is not nearly enough.

Aunt Jemima products are globally recognized due to the more than one hundred and thirty year history of an African American woman on its packaging.  Aunt Jemima has been in millions of households and has made millions of dollars for the Quaker Oats Company. Her Black smiling face guaranteed the contents would be GOOD.

Historically, Black Women have cooked for white households. My grandmother, Gladys Lampley left Mississippi in 1942.  Before her arrival to Chicago, She cooked and cleaned for white families before she cared for her own children.

This history does not simply disappear when you remove the Aunt Jemima image and brand name.

6AM when you planned your breakfast… Did you care to think, “Aunt Jemima is the ONLY Black woman that has SAT on my TABLE.”   Too many Americans have never invited a BLACK Woman to their homes.

Aunt Jemima has been there all the time …

In my opinion, No the Aunt Jemima image and name should not be removed…

Aunt Jemima is representative of the countless Black women who were and ARE the

ESSENTIAL WORKERS.   Nancy Green in particular is the ideal WOMAN to salute.

As an essential worker, she cooked, cleaned and carried the responsibility of caring for the needs of the white Samuel Walker family.  Nancy Green also had to care for own family.  Mrs. Green is noted as a founding member and missionary at Olivet Baptist Church in Chicago when they occupied the 31st and King Drive location on September 29, 1918.  The Church was established in 1850, long before her arrival to Chicago.

Green was a former slave who witnessed emancipation of nearly 4 million men and women of African descent.  As a resident of the State of Illinois, she would have witnessed the end of Black Code Laws, and saw Black men in Chicago, for the very first time exercising their right to vote.  Green resided at 215 E. 45th St. in Chicago in 1920. Nancy Green would have also become one of the first women – formerly enslaved… casting her vote in Chicago. Passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote. 

I do not know who was in the Room when the decision was made to remove Aunt Jemima image and brand name from the products, but I am sure no one thought to ask the families of Nancy Green (1834-1923), Aylene Lewis,  Lou Blanchard or Anna Robinson Harrington to vote on this decision.

Link to donate to purchase headstone for Nancy Green

Respectfully yours,

Sherry Williams, Founder and President

Bronzeville Historical Society


Mrs. Nancy Green “Aunt Jemima” Article links:   June 2020–uKmdDiw4LW2WMVv-4lZuoJzpNjOLgdmkDeCrZPsPb8