America takes time each year to celebrate the sacrifices of our war dead; this year, we should take a moment to also honor those who, despite facing hardships of their own, chose to commemorate the lives that had been lost partly in the service of securing their freedom from enslavement.”
— food writer and historian Michael W. Twitty
Food is all the rage these days, since TV food channels have made celebrities out of chefs and food writers (and investigative reporters like Michael Pollan* specializing in food but that’s another story).
Michael W. Twitty, a Judaic studies teacher, among other things, is steadily gaining acclaim as a unique food expert and historian.
He describes himself at his blog as . .
“. . . a food writer, independent scholar, culinary historian, and historical interpreter personally charged with preparing, preserving and promoting African American foodways and its parent traditions in Africa and her Diaspora and its legacy in the food culture of the American South.
“Michael is a Judaic studies teacher from the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area and his interests include food culture, food history, Jewish cultural issues, African American history and cultural politics.”
With that, I commend an article of his in the fine and very good newspaper The Guardian that begins as follows:
“African Americans have fought and died for America from its earliest days, from frontier skirmishes to the French and Indian Wars to the fall of Crispus Attucks at the Boston Massacre, immortalized as “the first to die for American freedom”.
“And though most official histories of Memorial Day credit with its founding a white former Union Army major general, whose 1868 call for a Decoration Day was reputedly inspired by local celebrations begun as early as 1866, the first people who used ritual to honor this country’s war dead were the formerly enslaved black community of Charleston, South Carolina in May 1865 – with a tribute to the fallen dead and to the gift of freedom.”
The Union major general mentioned above was Gen. James A. Logan, who was made famous in the excellent Civil War movie “Glory.” (See here for the late, great Roger Ebert’s 1990 review of the movie that became an instant classic.)
So if you’re interested in food and American history in all its, uh, Glory, you can find the Guardian piece by Michael W. Twitty* here