Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. and the Future of Food Justice with Bryant Terry

Posted by on Feb 15, 2017 | Comments Off on Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. and the Future of Food Justice with Bryant Terry

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. and the Future of Food Justice with Bryant Terry

Promising new partnerships between the University and Community Groups

The month of January bought new collaborations for the Charlottesville Food Justice Network (CFJN). On January 18th, CFJN teamed up with the University of Virginia Office for Sustainability to host a powerful activist in the food justice movement, Bryant Terry. Bryant Terry is a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award-winning chef, educator, and author renowned for his activism to create a healthy, just, and sustainable food system. Currently, he resides at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco as the Chef-in-Residence  where he creates programming that celebrates the intersection of food, farming, health, activism, art, culture, and the African Diaspora.  So you can only imagine the privilege and honor CFJN felt to have Bryant Terry in our presence to cultivate ideas together about our own local food movement though a round table discussion, food demo, and panel.

Our day started out with a round table discussion held in the Brown Room of Newcomb Dining Hall at UVA. With food catered from UVA dining in the vegan spirit of Bryant Terry cuisine, we all gathered around the table. The diverse body of university students, faculty, staff, and community members, convening around the topic of local food justice set the tone for a fruitful conversation. One in which ideas and perspectives would be exchanged, and perhaps a more unified vision of a community-university partnership could emerge.  We dove into topics dealing with everything from race, power, and privilege to mobilizing for structural change and promoting equity. The day was truly filled with an open exchange that I had yet to experience between University and Community groups.

Opening up as a Collaborative                                                                     

What was most powerful was that together with Bryant Terry, members of the CFJN weren’t afraid to open up and reflect upon the current movement we had begun to craft. This organizational self-reflection gave way to a deeper understanding of food injustice in Charlottesville that we had yet to tap into as a collective.  It generated an increased awareness that food injustice is deeply systematic in ways that we may not have previously perceived. Bryant Terry expressed his firm belief that “you can’t have food justice without social justice,” as the creation of food injustice was born from historical social injustices. As a collaboration, we were better able to talk about redevelopment and the future of city agriculture with Todd Niemeier from UACC, or the Farm Bill and its impact on local farmers with Lisa Reeder and Local Food Hub, or concepts of “whiteness” and power on forming equitable partnerships with Sarah Frazer from C’ville Foodscapes and Maria Niechwiadowicz from Bread & Roses Kitchen.

Sharing What We Know With the Greater Community

After hosting a powerful roundtable discussion, we headed off to the Carver Center at the Jefferson School for a keynote speech and panel discussion. Rocking the night away was Aleen Carey, board chair for City Schoolyard Garden, as the master of ceremonies. Aleen’s energy and charisma set the tone for the night as over 250 people packed the auditorium. Bryant Terry delivered a keynote speech celebrating African American music, southern culture and history, sustainable eating, and good food. He ended his keynote speech by giving a food demonstration on how to cook collard greens, which filled the venue with delicious smells and had the whole audience craving for a second round of catered food.

Finishing off the night was a food justice panel composed of Bryant Terry, three CFJN members, Barbara Yager from City of Promise, Brooke Ray from IRC New Roots, Laura Brown from Local Food Hub, and hosted by yours truly, Shantell Bingham from City Schoolyard Garden. The panel was a great opportunity to bring Bryant Terry’s keynote speech back home for the many audience members who were interested in learning about the local food movement.

This day of exploring food justice in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. was one to remember, as the CFJN was able to convene a large body of partners from the University and community at large. We want to extend a special thanks to Nina Morris, Dana Schroeder, and Samantha Jameson from the University of Virginia for your help in making this event happen! We would also like to thank Aleen Carey, Brooke Ray, Barbara Yager, and Laura Brown for actively taking part in the event. And lastly, to Bryant Terry, who extended energy and wisdom to all openly and without judgement! This event was truly something to remember.

Happy Black History Month and let’s keep moving forward!

With Gratitude,