DL - The assumption that Sambo was of African descent comes threefold. First, the original illustrations had Sambo as black with kinky hair. Certainly darker than any Indian I've seen, despite the setting of the story...
Secondly, the first lines of the story are "Once upon a time there was a little black boy...."
And lastly, the word Sambo itself is a play off the Foulah word for "uncle," which was often used as a pejorative for old black men.
At any rate, that's neither here nor there in regards to Matt's original post. I'll amend my statement then to state that Rastus and Jemima were blackface-esque depictions of blacks in house-slave roles. Look for instance at some 1920s ad copy for Aunt Jemima batter:
"On the old plantation, Aunt Jemima refused to reveal to a soul the secret of those light fragrant pancakes which she baked for her master and his guests. Only once, long after her master's death did Aunt Jemima reveal her recipe. It's still a secret."
Or some Aunt Jemima promotional materials from the 40s.
[Edited 2004-12-28 00:56:27]
South Carolina - too small to be its own country, too big to be a mental asylum.