Creative Placemaking,
Black Restorative Ecologies,
and Black Spatial Futures

Food Power Politics:The Food Story of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement

Bobby J. Smith II

Wednesday, February 21 | 12:30pm
Mortara Center for International Studies

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Co-Sponsored by The Department of Sociology

How does our understanding of the American civil rights movement shift if food is the starting point? In this talk, Dr. Bobby J. Smith II grapples with this question by thinking with research from his new book, Food Power Politics: The Food Story of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement. As the first book in the newly launched Black Food Justice series at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Press, Food Power Politics uncovers a neglected moment when food took center stage in the civil rights movement in rural Mississippi. This neglected moment reconfigured the movement, revealing how food was weaponized against Black communities in the struggle for civil rights and how they used to food to fight back. By placing food at the center of the civil rights movement, Dr. Smith illuminates how power struggles over food in the movement help us theorize the past to inform contemporary social movements for food justice and food sovereignty in Black communities and beyond.

Lunch will be provided.

Speaker Bio

Dr. Bobby J. Smith II is an interdisciplinary scholar of the African American agricultural and food experience. Trained as a sociologist, with a background in agricultural economics, Dr. Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with affiliations in the Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition and the Center for Social & Behavioral Science. His research program and teaching agenda cultivates an intellectual sphere and public space to interpret how Black people build agricultural and food systems amid inequalities that orbit the Black world. At the same time, Dr. Smith’s research and teaching illuminates how the building of agricultural and food systems by Black people reconfigures pre-existing conceptualizations of agriculture and food.

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