A Chef's Musings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy and Favorite Foods

Martin Luther King Jr.

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When I think of the measure of a man like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—a brilliant orator, a philosopher and teacher, a theologian, an activist and leader, a man of peace, a champion of equal rights and justice for all men and women—I also think of the place from whence he came. A descendant of slaves, a son of the South, a devoted Baptist, a child of god with a humble upbringing in a loving family and aspirations, this "recipe" created what Dr. King ultimately became and the destiny he would fulfill. I think of the way Dr. King would change the world and the conversation on race and who we are in America, which has never been more timely than today.

The excitement and brilliance of Dr. King’s tastebuds happily resonated with a few of my heartfelt Southern food favorites and gave me insight into this extraordinary man of great humility and taste. Little known facts to some, but those of us who do know value the power of Southern delicacies as a key to the character of a man and his postured position.

Fried Chicken with collard greens and mac and cheese

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As a chef, author and food activist, a host and storyteller and, like Dr. King, a child of the South, a product of the Baptist church, a descendant of slaves with an active imagination and a loving family, I am possessed with a driven passion to extol the virtue, majesty and innovation of the African American kitchen, full of traditions and love. In my research for this piece, I was beyond thrilled to learn of the many Southern food “likes” I share with Dr. King.

Martin, to his family and friends, Dr. King loved a few of the hallmark specialty recipes of the South with great reverence and grace. In no special order, he was known to enjoy as frequently as possible, a generous serving of fried chicken, stewed greens, sweet potatoes, and for dessert, a slice or two of pecan pie.

Pecan Pie

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In my book Meals Music and Muses, I celebrate not only these dishes, but the freedom and all of the civil rights that Dr. King, with his tremendous sacrifices, made possible for me and all people of color in these United States. I am thankful for his guidance and strength, courage, determination and sacrifice.

We celebrate your birth and your life Dr. King. I am honored to acknowledge your legacy and to walk in your promise of a better world everyday. Now, can I get an amen?!