/  06.24.2020

During Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Arizona on Tuesday (June 23), one speaker complained about the “cancelation” of Aunt Jemima and called the syrup brand’s trademark “the American dream.”

“Aunt Jemima was canceled. If you didn’t know, Nancy Green, the original first Aunt Jemima, she was a picture of the American dream,” student Reagan Escudé told the crowd. “She was a freed slave who went on to be the face of the pancake syrup we love and have in our pantries today.”

“She fought for equality and now the leftist mob is trying to erase her legacy,” she continued. “And might I mention how privileged we are as a nation if our biggest is concern is a bottle of pancake syrup.”

A former slave, Green became the first African American woman to portray the syrup brand’s trademark character of “Aunt Jemima.” The fictional image is based on the slavery-era mammy archetype and the character’s name was inspired by a minstrel song called “Old Aunt Jemima,” which was primarily performed by white men in blackface. Last week, Quaker Oats stated that it would change the brand’s name and image after admitting both are “based on a racial stereotype.”

Escudé’s comments were met with backlash on social media, especially considering the murky details surrounding Green’s compensation for her work with the syrup brand. Green was allegedly offered a lifetime contract for her portrayal of the brand’s trademark. However, according to her obituary, the 89-year-old woman worked as a housekeeper until her death and was buried in an unmarked grave.

Bronzeville Historical Society Founder Sherry Williams discovered Green’s resting place in 2015 and reportedly reached out Quaker Oats for their support in giving her grave a headstone. However, the company told Williams that “Nancy Green and Aunt Jemima aren’t the same — that Aunt Jemima is a fictitious character” and declined to finance a headstone.

Additionally, in 2014, the great-grandsons of Green and another woman who portrayed Aunt Jemima, Anna S. Harrington, sued PepsiCo and accused the company of exploiting both women and cheating them out of the financial compensation they were promised. The multi-billion dollar lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice.

Elsewhere in her speech, Escudé remarked on the “chaos of the Black Lives Matter movement” and claimed that “[racism] cannot be resolved by any law, protest or march.” She also praised Trump’s refusal to “apologize to the leftist mob.”

Watch a snippet from Escudé’s speech and find Twitter reactions to her statements below.


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