Michael Twitty Named Williamsburg’s First ‘Revolutionary in Residence’

Posted in museums by Editor on February 4, 2017

Press release (20 January 2017) from Colonial Williamsburg:

Michael Twitty Launches Williamsburg’s ‘Revolutionaries in Residence’ Program


Michael Twitty at work in the Peyton Randolph House kitchen in the Historic Area of Colonial Williamsburg (Photo: Joe Straw).

Acclaimed culinary historian, author, interpreter and Afroculinaria blogger Michael Twitty launches Colonial Williamsburg’s new Revolutionaries in Residence program, in which Virginia’s 18th-century capital hosts modern-day innovators to engage the nation with fresh perspectives that capture the spirit and relevance of its founding era. As part of the Revolutionaries in Residence program, Twitty delivers Colonial Williamsburg’s inaugural REV Talk at 5:30pm on February 11, 2017. The event, in which he shares insights and fields audience questions, coincides with Colonial Williamsburg Black History Month 2017 programs including the Films of Faith and Freedom series and original live dramatic programming like Journey to Redemption, all at the Kimball Theatre in Merchants Square. During Revolutionary City visits through February, Twitty is also scheduled to provide demonstrations and training for Historic Foodways staff and historical interpreters, to engage guests, and to collaborate with Colonial Williamsburg’s hospitality team on authentic new culinary offerings in the Historic Taverns and at Traditions Restaurant in the Williamsburg Lodge.

“Colonial Williamsburg explores the events and ideas of the 18th century that continue to define our lives and challenge us today,” said Colonial Williamsburg President and CEO Mitchell B. Reiss. “With the Revolutionaries in Residence program, we engage thinkers who question convention and capture the disruptive spirit of America’s founding generation. I can think of no one better suited to begin that journey than Michael Twitty, who illuminates huge aspects of our shared history that too often have been overlooked.”

Twitty’s work takes him throughout the country to preserve, prepare and promote African-American foodways along with the culinary traditions of Africa, the African diaspora and the American South. His past projects include a presentation with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and the Southern Foodways Alliance, and as a 2016 TED fellow he delivered the TED Talk “Gastronomy and the Social Justice Reality of Food.” He is the author of The Cooking Gene: A Journey through African-American Culinary History in the Old South, scheduled for release later this year by HarperCollins.

“Colonial Williamsburg has been a part of my life for almost four decades. I hope my presence will attract a wider audience to the pleasures of lifelong learning, exploring our past and moving forward into the future with purposeful vision,” Twitty said. “As we approach the incredible 400th year anniversary of African arrival in mainland British America, there needs to be a homecoming of all African Americans to this very sacred place. The Historic Triangle has incredible stories to tell and Colonial Williamsburg is at its heart and I’m excited to help illuminate those stories.”

The Revolutionaries in Residence program is generously sponsored by The Grainger Foundation of Lake Forest, Illinois.

Other events to mark Black History Month include the reopening of the Historic Area’s newly renovated African-American Religion exhibit on Nassau Street, programs including A Gathering of Hair and the ongoing exhibit A Century of African-American Quilts at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.

Highlights of the Films of Faith and Freedom series include Golden Globe winner Moonlight and Golden Globe nominee Loving as well as the Virginia premiere of the documentary Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise at 7pm on February 10 before its national broadcast premiere on PBS. Also in February, Colonial Williamsburg continues its partnership with the city’s historic First Baptist Church at 727 Scotland St., which again calls on the community and nation to ring the congregation’s restored Freedom Bell for justice, peace and healing.

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Here’s a recent video addressing the history of okra, which Twitty made with John Townsend (of Jas. Townsend and Son) at George Mason’s Gunston Hall Plantation in Virginia. Twitty’s book The Cooking Gene: A Journey through African-American Culinary History in the Old South is scheduled for August publication from Harper Collins.




2 Responses

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  1. matthewchunter said, on February 4, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    His blog is awesome! Thanks for sharing this.

    • Editor said, on February 5, 2017 at 3:22 am

      You’re welcome! I heard Twitty at ASECS in 2014 (at Williamsburg) and have been a fan ever since. It was one of the most moving conference panels I’ve ever attended—moving emotionally but also ‘moving’ in the sense that the material really mattered, and mattered beyond academia, or perhaps more precisely the session offered a glimpse of what an effective bridge between academia and a larger world might look like. -Craig

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