Urban Roots 2021:
African Influences on American Crops & Cuisine
Registration is now open!
This full day symposium will take place at the Dubois Center at Center City, and features a roundtable discussion, four speaker sessions, and lunch inspired by African crops.

In-person and virtual tickets are available here.

*Please note: Early bird registration closes 9/29!
Speaker Sessions:
Adrian Miller: They Put Their Foot in It! The Enduring Legacy of African American Presidential Cooks

Beginning with President George Washington, African American culinary professionals have fed every single one of our nation’s First Families. Adrian Miller will discuss how Black cooks incorporated food items featured in the Carolina Trail into presidential cuisine. An emphasis will be placed on black-eyed peas, greens, maize, okra, peaches, peanuts, sesame, sweet potatoes, and watermelon. We’ll also take a special look at presidential barbecues.
Judith Carney: Out of Africa: Food Legacies of Atlantic Slavery in the Americas

A striking feature of plantation era history is the number of first-person accounts that credit the enslaved with the introduction of specific foods, all previously grown in Africa. This lecture lends support to these observations by identifying the crops that European witnesses attributed to slave agency and by engaging the ways that African subsistence staples arrived, and became established, in the Americas.

In emphasizing the African components of the Columbian Exchange, the discussion draws attention to the significance of the continent’s food crops as a crucial underpinning of the transatlantic commerce in human beings, the slave ship as a means of conveying African crops to the Americas, and the enslaved as active participants in establishing African food staples on their subsistence plots.
Akin Ogundiran: Agricultural Revolution and Food Cultures in Africa

Africa is the most ecologically diverse continent. This diversity presented opportunities and challenges for human survival and subsistence during the global warming of early to mid-Holocene (11,000-5,000 BC). This period marked the beginning of the Agricultural Revolution, when most societies embraced gardening and cultivation as the basis of meeting their food needs.

This talk, drawing from archaeological, paleobotanical, and ethnographic evidence, will focus on the history of food in West Africa. It will cover the origins of a wide range of food crops in their environmental contexts and the distinctive food cultures and cultural identities that resulted from about 5,000-year–old experimentations and innovations in horticulture and agriculture.
Bernard Singleton: Memory Crops: Helping this Generation to Connect to their Roots

This project features many herbs and foods from the continent of Africa. It focuses on the importance plants, food, and farming have had throughout Black history and culture In both Africa and America. The goal is to help this generation to connect to their roots and ancestors here locally, in an intentional way.