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Heritage & History

The Gantt Center is a proud partner with Duke Energy in presenting our Heritage & History series. This program series features nationally noted artists and scholars who are preserving Black culture through an array of disciplines and media. In hosting each culture keeper, the Gantt Center invites public participation in special events and experiences that illuminate important stories and engage audiences.

Past Programs

The Soul Food Scholar: Adrian Miller's Tales of a White House Kitchen

February 12, 2019

Attendees experienced an informative and entertaining presentation that left them with a unique perspective on the American presidency. The evening featured a talk and Q&A with James Beard Award-winning author Adrian Miller on the fascinating African-Americans who have served in the presidential kitchen, and was followed by a special reception featuring an inspired culinary experience—multiple food stations with small bites—by Soul Food Sessions Chef Greg Collier, proprietor of The Yolk and a book signing for both The President’s Kitchen Cabinet and Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine.

Click here to see photos from this program.

Known as The Soul Food Scholar, Adrian Miller is a food writer, attorney and certified barbecue judge. He is the James Beard Award-winning author of Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time. His second book, The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, From the Washingtons to the Obamas was published on President's Day, 2017. It was a finalist for a 2018 NAACP Image Award for "Outstanding Literary Work—Non-Fiction" and the 2018 Colorado Book Award for History.

Miller is a graduate of Stanford University and Georgetown University Law School. He lives in Denver, CO and is executive director of the Colorado Council of Churches and, as such, is the first African American and the first layperson to hold that position. Miller previously served as a senior policy analyst for Colorado governor Bill Ritter Jr. and was a special assistant to President Bill Clinton. He is also a past board member of the Southern Foodways Alliance.

Click here to learn more about The Soul Food Scholar, Adrian Miller

Slave Dwelling Project Weekend

September 29 & 30, 2017

The Slave Dwelling Project Weekend featured a series of events that focused on historic preservation and interpretation, community and family. It was the fourth installment of Slave Dwelling Project partnerships that are centered around U.S. Presidential legacies. Slave Dwelling Project Weekend was made possible by The President James K. Polk State Historic Site, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, the Slave Dwelling Project, the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, the North Carolina Humanities Council, The Town of Pineville, the Polk Memorial Support Fund Inc. and the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

Click here to see photos from this program.

Stories Untold: A Communal Dinner

September 29, 2017

The President James K. Polk State Historic Site and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture came together to present an intimate experience that filled hearts, souls and stomachs. The evening featured Joseph McGill, Founder and Executive Director of the Slave Dwelling Project, as the keynote speaker.

For nearly three years, the Slave Dwelling Project has aimed to bring community stakeholders together to identify extant slave dwellings, and work towards their preservation. McGill challenged program participants to think differently about historic preservation and interpretation, particularly as it relates to slave dwellings and the history of U.S. slavery. McGill shared his experiences interpreting slavery at presidential sites and museums.

Following the keynote conversation, guests enjoyed food and intimate, small group discussions on topics including race, U.S. slavery, family ties, home, southern culture and the American experience.

The Stories We Tell: An Overnight Experience

September 29, 2017

During this intimate evening, guests slept in a representative slave cabin at The President James K. Polk State Historic Site, birthplace of the 11th U.S. President. Participants had the opportunity to share in a meaningful discussion on the life experiences of enslaved peoples, contemporary social issues and the U.S. presidency before spending their evening in a crudely constructed historic log cabin.

Following the overnight experience, participants had the opportunity to reflect, write and record their story using a variety of media, including video recorders and journals.

Feast On Culture!

July 28, 2016

Feast On Culture! featured Michael W. Twitty, chef, 2016 TED Fellow and independent scholar on African American food, folk culture and culinary traditions of the African Diaspora.

Twitty is a blogger, living history interpreter, and international expert on early Southern cuisine prepared by enslaved African American cooks for tables both high and low. His popular blog is devoted to the preservation of historic African American foods and foodways. Twitty uses food to ignite conversation about cultural appropriation, African identity and American racial history.

Twitty appears in the documentary "The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross" with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and has delivered presentations and cooking demonstrations for the Smithsonian Institution, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, Library of Congress, and Oxford University's Symposium on Food and Cookery.

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