Today is Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated holiday that marks the day when more than 250,000 enslaved people in western Texas were finally granted freedom. On this day in 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to inform enslaved African Americans of their freedom and that the Civil War was over. While the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in 1863, it was not put into practice in regions that were still under Confederate control (which is why it's important to not confuse Juneteenth as the day all enslaved people were freed).
Juneteenth is celebrated every year with parades, festivals, and parties across the country accompanied by food that pays homage to the history of African Americans. From "red drink" and other red foods (watermelon, fruit pies, etc.) that are symbolic of slavery to soul foods such as collard greens, sweet potatoes, and black-eyed peas, it's important to understand why these foods are still served today. To that end, here are five books about Black food history to read, and, be sure to also read 50+ Black-Owned Food Brands You Can Support Right Now.
- The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks by Toni Tipton-Martin
Every Nation Has Its Dish: Black Bodies and Black Food in Twentieth-Century America by Jennifer Jensen Wallach
The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty
High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey From Africa to America by Jessica B. Harris
Southern Food and Civil Rights: Feeding the Revolution by Frederick Douglass Opie