East Texas town celebrates woman who was iconic face of pancake mix, syrup brand

Lillian Richards festival

WOOD COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - A small East Texas town held a festival in honor of their most famous citizen, who until recently was the iconic face of one pancake mix and syrup brand.

The town of Hawkins celebrated the life of Lillian Richards, but you know her as Aunt Jemima.

With music, a parade, and good fun, the city of Hawkins celebrated pancakes.

More importantly, they celebrated the woman who made them famous for pancakes, Hawkins native Lillian Richards.

“It’s a way for the citizens to come together and celebrate small-town America. Get together with your neighbor, celebrating the life of Lillian Richards,” said mayor Stephen Lucas.

“Being from a small town, it embodies all of us and brings us together as a community,” said city councilwoman Clara Kay.

An enormous amount of pancakes were consumed, and members of the Richards family were featured in the parade.

“We honor a woman that was just a meager woman that wanted to make a living and is bringing this community back together. I’m really happy,” said Lillian’s cousin Vera Harris.

In 1925, Richards accepted a job with the Quaker Oats company portraying Aunt Jemima and became an instant star. She traveled and promoted the brand.

Quaker Oats decided to remove the Aunt Jemima label, citing it as a racial stereotype.

The Richards family says that’s wrong.

“I didn’t want her to be forgotten. So many times every day people contribute to society in such a big way. And often they’re forgotten. Forgotten for what they did contribute to this world. She was considered a hero in Hawkins, and we are proud of that. We do not want that history erased,” Harris said.

“We’re so proud of what we stand for here in Hawkins. Yes indeed,” Kay said.

Copyright 2021 KLTV. All rights reserved.