Soul Food Feast welcomes community to celebrate Black History Month

Getting a taste of culture while gathered around the table, the Marshall University Soul Food Feast invited university and community members alike to enjoy each others’ company and munch on ribs, collard greens, sweet potato pie and more on Sunday, Feb. 2.

Maurice Cooley, interim vice president and dean of Student Affairs and associate vice president of the Office of Intercultural Affairs, said the Soul Food Feast is an opportunity for people to see a glimpse of what African American culture is like while enjoying good food.

“The Soul Food Feast comes out of tradition of African American families,” Cooley said. “There is typically a culturally imbedded common practice that members of the nuclear, secondary and extended families come together to eat, typically after church services.”

Summer Collins, a Huntington resident who attended the feast for the second time this year, said that she thought the Soul Food Feast was a good event because practically everyone enjoys food, but the feast is a chance for people to see different ways food can be prepared.

“Food is like the center of our life in my opinion,” Collins said. “There are so many different ways of making different foods. So for me to have the opportunity to be around authentic food that I’m not accustomed to see, be around or have the opportunity to taste is really great because I actually get to see that difference.”

Collins also said she enjoys the Soul Food Feast because of the welcoming environment.

“It’s nice that I’m able to walk into a room that is focused on the black community and their culture and feel like I am welcome,” she said. “You don’t see many events like this, where any other races or cultures are like this, where it is very welcoming to other people to try something like this.”

The Soul Food Feast is one of multiple events organized to celebrate Black History Month. Some future events include the following: delivery of the Carter G. Woodson Lecture by Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, chair of the History Department at Harvard University and president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, on Feb. 4, the presentation of “Harriet” in the Memorial Student Center on Feb. 11, the 2020 Black History Observance with the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome M. Adams on Feb. 13, the Ebony Ball on Feb. 15 and more.

Steven Cleckley, second time Soul Food Feast attender who has been in Huntington for roughly 50 years, said he enjoys the feast because of the good food and good people. He also said that he believes Black History is not just for African Americans.

“It (Black History) is basically American history,” Cleckley said. “We’ve made great contributions to this nation. I know it’s celebrated as black history, but we’re Americans, so it’s American history.”

Cooley also explained that he thinks Black History Month is important because African Americans helped build America.

“It is important because the African Americans who are here in our country today, most of us originated from slave ancestry,” he said. “Slaves built the south. They didn’t own the south, but they built it. So it is important to us because that is who we are, we have a common culture and origin for Africans and Caribbeans, and that is part of our history. So we must always celebrate and recognize who we are, while also celebrating all people.”

Information about future Black History Month events can be found at the Carter G. Woodson Lyceum website.

Sarah Ingram can be contacted at [email protected].