HAWKINS, Texas (KLTV) - The Black Lives Matter movement persuaded Quaker Oats to rebrand the 130-year-old Aunt Jemima syrup. However, the history lives on in Hawkins, where one of the women who portrayed the character resided. Lillian Richard is the subject of this week’s Mark in Texas History with Mark Scirto.
Lillian Richard was born in the Fouke community, which is outside Hawkins, in 1891. In 1925, she accepted a job with the Quaker Oats Company, portraying Aunt Jemima. She traveled the country and promoted the brand’s pancake mix.
Quaker Oats decided to remove the Aunt Jemima label, citing it as a racial stereotype. Richard's family disagrees.
“A lot of people want it removed. 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. There wasn’t a lot of jobs, especially for black women back in that time. She was discovered by Quaker Oats to be their brand person, said Vera Harris, family historian.
But Richard's legacy lives on with this historical marker at the Fouke Community Center.
“She was considered a hero in Hawkins, and we are proud of that. We do not want that history erased, “ Harris said.
Because of Richard's legacy, the state legislature named Hawkins the "Pancake Capital of Texas."
The marker honoring Lillian Richard is located at 5425 FM 2869.