Howard Conyers is a Manning, SC native…
If you Googled "Manning," there is a great chance your search would yield thousands of images nonrelated to the pitmaster and BBQ enthusiast, Dr. Howard Conyers. Though your screen would be flooded with images of NFL Legend, Peyton Manning, Howard is in a different league and master of a sport -- or science of his own. The small city of Manning, South Carolina birthed the scientist and bred the man who would one day change the narrative around barbecue and the black hands that molded it presence in the culinary world.
"Science is boring." That is what Howard should have believed, as the subject often bored his peers. While his classmates would eagerly await the bell for other physically engaging classes, Howard could not deny his gravitation toward engineering. After high school, he attended the esteemed, North Carolina A&T State University and earned his BS in Bioenvironmental Engineering. Leaving the historically black university with a perfect GPA and immersed in academic excellence, his next step was to further his education at Duke University. He earned his MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering with a specialty in Aeroelasticity from the university in 2009.
Stirring up the stigma around natives of small towns, Howard became an Aerospace Engineer for NASA.Hededicated his career to the study of aerospace and design of testing facilities for rocket engines. However, it was not long before Howard ventured back to one of his childhood passions---barbecue. The descendant of farmers and barbecuing masters, he decided to dig deeper into the world of BBQ. What he found was that black people had been erased from its history—or the way it was written in books. Revealing blacks’ BBQ lineage back to slavery, he felt obligated to tell the story. Howard plunged back into preparing BBQ and ultimately traveled around the world-sampling BBQ and gathering stories from pitmasters all over. Howard’s research and fascination earned him a role as host on Nourish, PBS’ food show that highlights the connection between the culinary and community realms. The feature was just one of many spotlights from the media. He has also been featured in, NY Times, Southern Living, Bon Appetit, The Post and Courier, BBQ Beat, The Nod, The Trip and many more. One of his favorite features was on The Cooking Channel’s Man Fire Food.
With the belief that to leave a legacy, one must be selfless and serve others, Howard is a dedicated member of the community. He serves as board member for Radical Xchange, reaches back to mentor others and donates his time and philanthropic efforts to underserved communities. In doing so, he vows to always be an advocate for those who are marginalized and always show up authentically and unapologetically. Howard spends his time delivering lecturers and educating masses about the history and craft that cultivated BBQ. When he is not knee deep in the art or working as an engineer, you can find him with his wife, Kathryn or perusing in museums and collecting farm tools from the past. The late Zora Neale Hurston once said, “Love makes your soul crawl out of its hiding place.” If the writer’s words ring true, Dr. Howard Conyers’ love for storytelling and BBQ, has liberated the souls and stories hidden in the sauce.