Theme

Food

Food is nourishment. Food is family. Listen to the ways people do, think, and experience food and you’ll learn about how food makes community, sustains families, and shapes identities. Search for food and foodways—and you may also find out how to kill a chicken or to make Mama Kat's incomparable poundcake. For a little inspiration, listen to Brentton Harrison’s audio-documentary, "Do You Want It."

Food is also work and service. It unites and divides. Listen to neighbors about the importance of farming and gardening. Search for Heavenly Groceries and learn about a radical response to regional food insecurity at St. Joseph C.M.E. Watch The Lenoir Strike and see how women in food service on the UNC campus stood up for improved working conditions. Consider how the right to eat at a lunch counter or in a booth at Colonial Drug was at the heart of the early freedom or civil rights movement in Chapel Hill.

Food

To learn more...

 Amanda Ashley - On food during her childhood and learning to cook

Amanda Ashley describes her experiences with food in her childhood as the interviewer introduces the Food Ministry. Amanda shares how her mother’s occupation as a nutrition teacher influenced her food intake. Food in her household was less processed. Amanda describes her learning experiences in…

 Cecilia Massey-Fike

 Clayton Weaver - On his parents, education, and Northside

Weaver was born and raised in Chapel Hill, NC on Cameron Avenue. His great-uncle bought their family home in 1929 for $3000. He went to school at Northside Elementary. Weaver provides background on who lived in the neighborhood and what school was like. He recounts that in the late 1950s, the…

 Donny "Hollywood" Riggsbee - On his childhood, food memories, and working at UNC

Donny Hollywood Riggsbee, a bachelor, gemini, grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He remembers the last few decades in North Carolina, reflecting on the fond memories of his family and friends. He reflects on his time at UNC, working in housing and Lenoir dining hall. He shares his entertainment…

 Euzelle and R.D. Smith - On food and cooking

R.D. and Euzelle Smith have lived in Pottersfield in Chapel Hill since the 1940s. Both worked as educators in Chapel Hill for decades, and R.D. served as a member of the Town Council. They then became the namesakes for Smith Middle School when it was constructed. This interview was done as part of…

 Freddie Mae Mitchell - On her family and food

Ms. Freddie Mae Mitchell grew up on Graham Street, and as the oldest daughter in her family, she helped her parents by cooking for the rest of the family. Her cousins owned a farm, and her family would get food from them. When she got married she moved to Gomains Street, where she lived for ten…

 Gracie Webb - On her family, growing up in Northside, and changes in Northside

Throughout Gracie Webb’s life she has seemingly always been in the Northside and Cedar Groves area of Chapel Hill-Carrboro. Reminiscing through the memories of her childhood, Mrs. Webb talks about her most fond experiences of cooking with her mother and grandmother, eating with her family on…

 Joyce Long - On the connections between food, family, and memory

Having lived in New York City before moving to Chapel Hill, Joyce Long has seen firsthand the differences between Northern and Southern cooking. Her father owned a restaurant in Harlem, but she and her mother did most of the cooking in the home. Her mother taught her to be a creative cook, and…

 Katherine Council - On food, cooking, and recipes

In this interview, Mama Kat, a cooking and baking extraordinaire, shares some of her kitchen expertise including tips and favorite recipes. Mama Kat learned how to cook from her parents and grandparents, and now writes down her recipes in cookbooks for others to follow. She discusses how products…

 Katherine Council - On her pound cake recipe

In this interview, Mama Kat gives us her coveted pound cake recipe, which she knows from memory because she makes it so often.

 Kathy Atwater - On food

Ms. Atwater gives an overview of food access in the community when she was growing up and how her family’s attitudes toward food have developed over the course of her life. Starting with a discussion of her mother’s kitchen and garden, she describes the role of food in her family and in the…

 Keith Edwards - On the importance of food

This interview includes Keith Edwards’s viewpoint on the importance of food in the home and in the community.  She recalls specific recipes in the interview. Edwards was born and raised in Carrboro where Domino’s Pizza is now located. She was one of eleven children in her household, and she…

 Lavisha Williams - On food, cooking, and eating

Lavisha Williams grew up with her maternal grandparents as part of the household, and learned to cook watching them and her parents. Most of the foods and meals she grew up with had been passed down from her great-grandparents without cookbooks or precise recipes. Most of what she ate with her…

 Lillie Edwards and Juanita Washington - On food and cooking

Lillie recounts on her first experiences with cooking bread as a young girl. She was the designated cook of the family. She also talks about her mother’s cooking style since her mother does not use standard recipes to cook. Juanita speaks about Mama Dip (her aunt) being the head cook in her family.…

 Martrina Morrow - On food and food accessibility

This interview provides discussion of food, especially the process of getting food, and the amount of food you could buy. Furthermore, Morrow describes the change in money changes to affect how much food you can buy. She also demonstrates how money affects traditions. Her area had no farmers market…

 Mildred Council - On food, business, and Mama Dip's

Food is inextricably woven into Mildred Council’s life story. She grew up on a farm outside of Chapel Hill and cooked mostly out of necessity, and her main concerns were cost and practicality. She started learning from her father when she was nine years old, and as she grew up she held different…

 Regina Merritt - On food bringing people together

In this oral history, Regina Merritt discusses what her life was like growing up on a farm. From the beginning of the interview, it is clear that her grandmother was the centerpiece of her family. She cooked for not only her own family members, but also for anyone in the community who needed food.…

 Robert Revels - On working in the food industry

This interview includes the interviewee’s background and his occupational history with food. He considers his first kitchen to be at the Carolina Inn in the 1940s and 1950s. His favorite dish to cook at the Carolina Inn was roast beef. Revels states that his favorite place to cook at was the Zoom…

 Roberto Gonzalez - On food, immigrating, and his relationships with Northside neighbors and the Chapel Hill Latino community

This interview is part of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center’s A Place at the Table Series. Roberto Gonzalez, a resident of the Northside neighborhood and tenant of St. Josephs CME church, immigrated from Mexico to Chapel Hill when he was about 26 years old. After arriving in 2007, he was introduced to…

 Stephanie Barnes-Simms - On growing up in Baltimore during the 1960s, family, and education

At the time of the interview, Stephanie Barnes-Simms worked at Self-Help Credit Union. Simms grew up in Baltimore and has lived in NC twice. Her father is from Asheville, NC. Her mother is one of six children. Her maternal grandfather was from High Point, NC and her maternal grandmother lived in…

 Walt Riggsbee - On his restaurant, military service, and Chapel Hill

We conducted this interview as a part of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center’s Oral History series. Bobby Riggsbee, commonly referred as Walt own his own restaurant named Walt’s Grill. Walt was born and raised in a segregated Chapel Hill and attended Lincoln High School located in the Northside…

 Willie Mae Patterson - On cooking and food

As a part of the Jackson Center’s food ways project, Willie Mae Patterson speaks to her experience with food and cooking. White Patterson grew up with a very small kitchen, her grandma taught her how to cook and always had lots of vegetables in her garden. Some of Patterson’s most popular dishes…

 Williestine McLean - On her childhood, parents, food, and farming

Williestine McLean begins the interview by sharing her childhood background of living in Darlington, SC with 12 siblings. She also includes her battle with cancer and having to attend UNC Hospitals for treatment. Willistine describes her parents’ relationship; her father was in his 20s and her…
"We’re writing our own history, thank you!"

Ms. Esphur Foster

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