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Nancy Green
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    (November 17, 1834-September 23, 1923)
    Born in Mount Sterling (Montgomery County), Kentucky
    First actress to portray 'Aunt Jemima'
    Former slave; as a freedwoman worked as a cook and a nanny
    Found employment in the Chicago home of a prominent Judge Walker
    Signed a contract with the Davis Milling Company to be the spokeswoman for their new 'boxed pancake' product (1890)
    Debuted as 'Aunt Jemima' at the World's Columbian Exposition, in Chicago (1893)
    Following the positive reception, earned a lifetime contract to travel and promote the company's product in the 'Aunt Jemima' character (a job which she accepted and maintained until her death in a 1923 car accident)
    She held the 'Jemima' gig until she was 93 (having started at 56).
    Few details about her life before her 'pancake queen' stint are available.
    Her World's Fair catchphrase was 'I's in Town, Honey!' (the slogan's popularity would be imprinted with her likeness on lapel pins for fairgoers).
    She liked to wax nostalgic about her days as a slave, telling colorful (likely apocryphal) stories about the pre-war days in mixed company.
    She was the first black performer to make a fortune out of perpetuating negative stereotypes about her own people (opening the door for everyone from Stepin Fetchit to Stacey Dash).
    It probably wasn't a coincidence that the 'World's Largest Flour Barrel' on which she held council, at the World's Fair, was in direct proximity to the Haitian Building and the Fair's 'Colored Day' festivities, which irked activists like Anna Julia Cooper and Ida B. Wells enormously.
    She was the best known black woman entertainer in the country, but not a single photograph - of any quality - exists in the public domain (surely by 1923 cameras were prevalent enough to get one shot?)
    She was at the center of a frivolous lawsuit waged by her heirs and descendants of other 'Aunt Jemima models,' who demanded $2 billion in reparations, as well as a share of future revenue from the sales of the mix (Aug. 2014).
    At the time of her discovery, she had already been a widow with two children (both of whom predeceased her).
    She was an immediate hit at the World's Fair, flipping pancakes 'in character' for thousands of attendees (to the point where police officers had to administer crowd control to manage the show).
    The exhibition also was aimed at showing attendees how to 'use' the strange new mix, which she did with the zeal of a seasoned home economist.
    Her outgoing and friendly demeanor, endeared her to customers - as a result more than 50,000 orders were generated by the Fair's conclusion.
    She was awarded a special medal by the Exposition's organizers, signaling the company's decision to sponsor a major promotional push of the brand ('Aunt Jemima' merchandising, national-wide public appearances, etc.)
    She parlayed her popularity as 'Aunt Jemima' to a travelling one-woman show, which sold out wherever she went.
    She was active in anti-poverty programs to help blacks in the Chicago-area, frequently with the Olivet Baptist Church, with whom she served as a missionary.
    She was arguably the wealthiest black woman in America, and one of the first black female philanthropists, preceding beauty-care-magnate Madam C.J. Walker little over a decade.
    She was killed after a car collided with a truck at a Chicago intersection and flipped over onto the sidewalk where she was standing.
    The outrage directed at her over perpetuating the 'Mammy' stereotype ignores the reality that black women of the period faced few options to better themselves (in other words, 'if she didn't, someone else would').
    Actually, the most offensive aspects of the 'Jemima' character came from her (much heftier) successor, Anna Robinson, whose marketing campaign extended to publicity stills and film appearances.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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