Our first James & Marguerite Hutchins Lecture of the semester, titled “Southern Hunger and the American Food System,” was presented by award-winning journalist Tracie McMillan. McMillan is author of the bestselling study The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table (Scribners, 2012), which poses the question, “What would it take for us all to eat well?” She has written about food, labor, and class for The New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Harper’s Magazine, Mother Jones, Saveur, and Slate.
The American South is often celebrated for its rich food heritage and its powerful influence on American cuisine, but the region’s culture and politics are also linked to the darker side of food. McMillan will discuss how modern American food issues like hunger, wages, and labor are deeply tied to the history of the South. You can read more about McMillan’s work on “The New Face of Hunger” here.
Did you miss our featured speakers last semester? Not to worry–all three lectures are now available online. David Garcia discusses “Music of Latin@s and their Predecessors in the United States before 1900”; Angela Jill Cooley examines the “evolution of urban food culture in the Jim Crow South”; and Gregory D. Smithers uncovers the origins of the Cherokee diaspora.
Friends and family of Marguerite Pegram Hutchins gathered in Chapel Hill on June 1, 2016 to mourn her passing and to remember a life lived to the fullest. Together with her late husband James, Marguerite traveled (for business or pleasure) to every country in the world. An archive of previous James and Marguerite Hutchins Lectures (with downloadable videos) is available here, and our 2016-17 lecture series will be posted in the fall.
In a 2015 interview for the Southern Oral History Program, Mrs. Hutchins recalled that as a child in Winston-Salem, “You were taught to be honest, and work hard, and appreciate others, and help the community.” Her life put those principles to work, and she still managed to have fun almost everywhere she went. Comments from Marguerite’s 95th birthday party are available here, and a full obituary is available here.
“Music of Latin@s and their Predecessors in the United States before 1900”
What was “Latin music” like in pre-twentieth century America? Was there a “Latin music” or even a Latino identity during this historical period? With the current heated political debates surrounding Latinos, immigration, and national identity, a critical exploration of possible answers to these questions is not merely timely but in fact overdue. This lecture will explore ways of understanding the music of Spanish-speaking communities in pre-twentieth century America and will explain why this history should inform our understanding of Latin@s and their place in American society today.
David Garcia is Associate Professor of Music at UNC-Chapel Hill. He studied music at California State University, Long Beach (B.M. in composition, 1995), UC-Santa Barbara (M.A. in ethnomusicology, 1997), and The City University of New York (Ph.D. in ethnomusicology, 2003). Published in MUSICultures, Journal of the Society for American Music, The Musical Quarterly, and other academic journals, Garcia’s research focuses on the music of the Americas with an emphasis on black music and Latin music of the United States. He is also musical director of UNC’s Charanga Carolina ensemble, which specializes in Cuban danzón and salsa music. Garcia’s current book project, The Logic of Black Music’s African Origins in the Mid-Twentieth Century, is under contract with Duke University Press.
By the late twentieth century, fast food restaurants became a common feature of American life. Although this innovation, which brought food production into the factory age, was not a product of the South, many of its key attributes complemented the southern environment. The region’s temperate weather, automobile culture, and suburban migration contributed to an atmosphere in which fast food thrived. Professor Angela Jill Cooley questions how early fast food places, which spread across the region during the final death throes of Jim Crow, treated issues of race and civil rights. In theory, fast food establishments epitomized democracy. They offered cheap, quick, standardized fare at walk-up windows. Customers took food back to their cars where they could eat with their windows rolled down as they enjoyed the moderate southern climate. In reality, however, early fast food restaurants in the South envisioned their customer base as white, middle-class, and Protestant. They cultivated this image through advertising, restaurant placement, and discriminatory practices. In this way, early fast food chains built white supremacy into their business model. Examining this little-known history helps us to better understand the tenacity of segregation culture and the intransigence of some white southerners who added segregated dining rooms to fast food places even as civil rights activists were sitting in at lunch counters. At the same time, the popularity of fast food in the region also helps us to better understand the larger socioeconomic and cultural environment that contributed to successful federal civil rights legislation.
Angela Jill Cooley is Assistant Professor of History at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where she teaches classes on civil rights and constitutional history. She received a JD from George Washington University Law School and a PhD from the University of Alabama, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture. Her most recent publication is an essay titled “Freedom’s Farms: Activism and Sustenance in Rural Mississippi” in Dethroning the Deceitful Pork Chop: Rethinking African American Foodways from Slavery to Obama (University of Arkansas Press, 2015). This lecture will draw on Cooley’s recent book To Live and Dine in Dixie: The Evolution of Urban Food Culture in the Jim Crow South (University of Georgia Press, 2015).