Kentucky Chautauqua: Debra Faulk as Nancy Green
We were thrilled to welcome Kentucky Chautauqua performer Debra Faulk on March 2nd for her portrayal of Kentuckian Nancy Green!
In Nancy Green: Being "Aunt Jemima," the Pancake Queen, Faulk conveys the legacy of this historic Black icon with humor, wit, and deep feeling. Green's is a story rooted in tragedy—she was born a slave in Mount Sterling, and in her rise to wealth and independence was rarely given the credit she or her family deserved for her success as one of the first brand "faces" who changed American marketing. However, it's also a tale of determination and power, as Green leveraged her employer's dependence upon (and the public's reaction to) a racist stereotype into a financial freedom rarely enjoyed by women at the time, let alone Black women. Her wealth went back into the communities she loved, used to build everything from churches to anti-poverty programs for her fellow Black Americans. Green was also a staunch advocate for equal rights.
We could hardly have wished for a better performance! Faulk had patrons in the palm of her hand as she brought Nancy Green back to life, drawing open laughter, more than a few tears, and well-deserved applause from her audience. Check out the photos here, and see even more on our Facebook and Instagram!
This program was funded in part by the Kentucky Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities. To learn more about Kentucky's Chautauqua performances, check out the Kentucky Humanities website here!
Debra Faulk as Nancy Green
Faulk portrays historic Black Kentuckian Nancy Green for a packed community room.
An Activist with Attitude
Green definitively understood her own worth and leveraged her unusual independence to help the less fortunate, which she believed was the duty of the wealthy.
A Marketing Icon
Advertising and commerce were forever altered by the practice of pairing a face or recognizable character with a product or service. Green was among the first "corporate mascots," and even performed for audiences at the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition.
More than Just a Pretty Face
Although her alter ego was assigned a make-believe husband and even pretend children, Green had her own family, to whom she was fervently dedicated.
A Moment of Silence
Faulk (as Green) asks her audience to imagine themselves as slaves for a moment, emphasizing the challenges Green faced and the strength she demonstrated in overcoming many of them.