Actress to portray pancake queen in livestream Tuesday

Staff Reports

Right at the top, actress Debra Faulk understands some people could feel an uneasiness with her focus on Nancy Green, the real-life woman who became the model for the character known as Aunt Jemima, the world’s apron-bedecked pancake queen.

So she tells people quickly enough that she supports Quaker Oats’ decision last year to end Aunt Jemima’s 130-year reign “to make progress toward equality,” as a company spokesman put it.

“I definitely support Quaker Oats for pulling that for everyone,” Faulk has said.

But a few significant elements remain. And one of the hardest to ignore is that Green used her pancake mix and syrup wealth to create substantial good, for everything from promoting anti-poverty programs for struggling Blacks to supporting mission trips.

Faulk will portray Green in a Zoom presentation called “Being Aunt Jemima: The Pancake Queen” at 6 p.m. Tuesday via the Bartholomew County Public Library.

“Debra presented this for us in person a few years back, and it is an amazing event,” said Mary Claire Speckner, the library’s community services coordinator.

Green, a Kentucky native born enslaved, was 56 when she was chosen as one of the first advertising trademarks ever. Despite social media posts arguing to the contrary, she had no connection to the recipe for the mix.

Green, with her warm and friendly personality, was a hit in promoting the pancakes at expositions by demonstrating the ease of preparing the self-rising batter. She served thousands of flapjacks, and was signed to a lifetime contract and traveled the country promoting the batter. Her face appeared in various iterations of the packaging over the years until her tragic death in a car crash in 1923.

Two years later, Quaker Oats purchased the company and hired other models — all attired in the trademark apron and head scarf until 1989 when the more modern image of Aunt Jemima was featured without that stereotypical attire.

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Who: Actress Debra Faulk portraying pancake queen Nancy Green, who was used for years as the model for the Aunt Jemima character on the popular pancake mix.

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Where: Via Zoom through the Bartholomew County Public Library.

Information: Go to mybcpl.org and register under events to get Zoom access.

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