Sharing the Tastes of Civil Rights

Students have been studying the history of the Civil Rights Movement since their return from December Recess.

Teachers introduced Michael Platt’s Recipes for Change: 12 Dishes Inspired by a Year in Black History, which shares the important role food has played in the history of Black empowerment.

Platt’s book provided students with a gastronomical perspective on many of the same events they had been studying in class. They learned that, in 1960, Ezell Blair, Jr., Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil and David Richmond, who were denied slices of cherry pie because of the color of their skin, sat peacefully at a Greensboro lunch counter until closing time to spark sit-ins across the South. They learned churches distributed cornbread to hungry protesters marching for fair voting rights with Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis and Josea Williams in Selma, Alabama in 1965 and of the special gumbo chef Leah Chase served up to Freedom Riders at her famous New Orleans restaurant in 1961.

With this new information, teachers worked with Foodservice Manager Chef Zac Maness to provide hands-on opportunities for each of the three homerooms to prepare one of these items and orchestrate a celebratory feast for 4th graders as a culminating activity.

Students in Miriam Pickus’ class made Freedom Rider’s Gumbo—with and without sausage. they learned about each of the ingredients, including okra’s West African origins, as well as the proper technique for chopping onions and green peppers. Diane Berin’s class worked with Chef Zac to prepare the Greensboro Sit-In’s Cherry Protest Pie complete with lattice crust, and Maureen Cuesta’s students prepared the Selma March’s Carry-on Cornbread.

At the end of the week, Chef Zac invited the entire 4th grade to the Sheridan Family Café to enjoy the food they had all collaborated on creating—a delicious way to cap off a fun week of learning!

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.