Hi!!!!! I’m working with a new wordpress screen here, so please bear with me. I love sharing information about people who have contributed their skills to society, to life, but may have been forgotten or even pushed back out of sight over the years. I received a photo of a grocery store celebration for “Aunt Jemima” – it showed a grocer, a line of customers, and “Aunt Jemima” standing by to sign autographs. I cannot post it because I don’t know who owns it, but it got me to thinking about the recent actions of a pancake flour brand to re-name its product, I believe due to something called “cancel culture.” I do not believe in the concept. I believe that we cannot cancel a happening. What has been done still exists somewhere, even if it’s only in our memories. The image of Aunt Jemima will always bring back great memories, for me as a child especially, of when I would see that box on mom’s kitchen table. Yay!! Pancakes!! Meaning as much syrup as I could get away with and lots of butter. Of course, as a child it never occurred to me that Aunt Jemima may have been a real person with a life away from that box. But she was. Over the years she was more than one person, with various looks meant to keep up with the times. However, the original Aunt Jemima was a lady by the name of Nancy Green (I wonder if we are related). She was born a slave in 1834. She was born a person in 1834. She became a wife, a mother, a cook, and a nanny for the Walker family of Kentucky and later Chicago.
On the recommendation of Judge Walker she was suggested to the R. T. Davis Milling Company to be a spokesperson for their Aunt Jemima brand. This marked the beginning of a major promotional push by the company that included thousands of personal appearances. She appeared at fairs, festivals, flea markets, food shows, and local grocery stores. People loved her. She used her money and her stature as a spokesperson to advocate against poverty and in favor of equal rights for individuals in Chicago. Another woman would become “Aunt Jemima” during the early 1900s, and Nancy would go on to live a quiet life residing with relatives. She died in 1923, the same year my mother was born. It really was not that long ago. She ought to be remembered and mentioned now and then.
And Why remove her image from a pancake box. After all, she, Nancy Green, was a chubby woman. And, hell, I wear scarfs (some would call them head rags) all the time. And, she was probably happy to be able to make some extra money and get out of the house. I believe society has chosen to play into her image as degrading. Why can’t we look at her picture and see a female who rose from slavery to adulthood with a personality that allowed her to travel all over the US, to help people where she could and to be able to share that bright smile with little kids sitting at their mom’s breakfast table. We cannot cancel people or their contributions.
“We all want to be remembered. This was even touched on in an episode of The Jeffersons. Here is an excerpt from my book: Staying at the top is not easy. Every member of an audience must be satisfactorily entertained. Death may not normally lend itself as entertainment in a situation comedy, but death is a part of living that cannot be ignored. After George almost drowns in a boating accident, he realizes he does not want to die as a nobody. He wants headlines to read “George Jefferson Dies!”. (Florence quips, “I heard that.”) George decides that he wants to be remembered as a somebody after he is gone. “The House that George Built” was an excellent episode. George builds a museum dedicated to himself showcasing his life over the years. Pictures highlight his early years as a child, the lean years, and the filthy rich years. Peter Lawford voiced the museum guide. “George Jefferson, a man, a legend, a dude with a lotta bucks.”
Hey, thanks for hanging in here with me. I appreciate all of you who follow me and I welcome comments as well as “Likes”. Stay safe, and thanks, for stopping by. 🙂
My book: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer (2016)
My publisher: BearManor Media