Who Is Lillian

Lillian Harris Dean (1870-1929)

The Lillian Project is inspired by Lillian Harris Dean aka “Pigfoot Mary”. Born Lillian Harris on the Mississippi Delta, Dean migrated to Harlem in 1901.  After the first week, Dean invested $5 she earned as a domestic in her makeshift food stand where she sold southern cuisine out of a baby carriage.

Later Dean was able to purchase a steam table and her business continued to grow.  Her culinary skills earned her the nickname, “Pigfoot Mary”.  For sixteen years she worked tirelessly at her food stand all the while saving her money.

Unable to read and write, Dean became one of Harlem’s shrewdest business people.  She invested her earnings in real estate which paid off in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Dean and her husband retired to California.