In the beginning of Rosa Washington's career as Aunt Jemima, the pancake mix was packaged and sold in one-pound covered cardboard cartons.At that period her portrait covered one entire side of the carton.The Jim Crow Museum is worth studying for anyone who wants to understand propaganda, and it remains relevant today.
She was played by actual women including, Brown County, Ohio native Rose Washington Parks,1901-1969, during the 1950s.
This story was published 01/16/2001 in the Ledger Independent in Maysville, Ky. Rosa Washington Riles, better known as "Aunt Jemima" was one of Brown County's most noted but least known natives.
Whereas blacks used to be portrayed as exotic, foolish and childlike, today they are portrayed as menacing, gun-toting drug addicts or as hypersexual pimps and whores. Indeed, practically every item housed in the Jim Crow Museum is being sold on some Internet site.
Examples include the following: The new racial climate is marked by ambivalence and contradiction. Old racist items are being reproduced and new items are being created.
Later redesigning of the packages reduced her portrait to a silver-dollar sized medallion in the upper left corner of the side of the box, and that is exactly how it can be found on the store shelves yet today.
During the well advertised and well attended demonstrations, Aunt Jemima also promoted Log Cabin Syrup and Ball's Milk.
Last week I was invited to give a talk about free speech at Ferris State University in Michigan.
Much to my pleasure, I discovered that one of the professors at Ferris is an old colleague, Dennis Ruzicka, who was a fellow reporter 20 years ago when we both worked for a small-town, daily newspaper in Wisconsin.
However, she remains an example of the "mammy" stereotype that has been used in advertisements for household items including foods, detergents, planters, ashtrays, sewing accessories, and beverages.