As I reflect on my upbringing on reflect on my upbringing by both of my parents, Hallie and Harrison, they gave me all that they could and I am extremely thankful. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. They prepared me for the life in the rural South and America the best way they could. They shared with me the power of education, tradition, culture, and more importantly how to treat people. They gave me the tools that the last group black farmers whom worked through the remaining time period of America’s evolved slavery system in the agricultural system, sharecropping was slavery, how to survived. They got me ready for the world which eventually led me to find my wife, Kathryn. My wife and parents, are my two biggest supporters and they motivate me to work harder so I can give thing to them that they can’t imagine.
In 2019, I am thinking of where I came from in Paxville, SC that I am extremely blessed. To be blessed it is not about the things we have earned, it is about how I am able to interact with other people and pour into others. I wondered about 2019, and what was going to be my impact. I am grateful to see other projects be more successful than working on my own projects: My impact in 2019, was working with Ashtin Berry with Resistance Served, Ashtin Berry, John Hall, and Martha Wiggins at the Whitney Plantation for a Juneteenth Dinner in front of the Big House, traveling to San Francisco to do a fundraiser with La Cocina, seeing the Black Food Folks group started by Clay and Colleen, seeing that I passed on BBQ knowledge to BJ, Marcus, Omar, etc, going to Fire Flour Fork to talk on BBQ Pitmasters curated by Therese, serving on the first culinary panel at the BUGS conference, the Federation of Southern Cooperative, and working on a documentary. My most important thing that I enjoyed was delivering the Keynote to Levi Pearson Scholarship Gala because I was able to give back to a family through words that I learned because of the sacrifice of their father and uncle whom were black farmers in Clarendon County who fought for black children like me to get an education with “equal” resources. I did other things but I just can't remember at the time of this morning writing.
In 2018, Gumbo Jubilee taught me so many lessons as I started to cultivate my own soil and figure out my purpose and passion. I also wondered how I worked so hard in 2018 and helped to create an amazing digital show with Nourish that ended. I could have been upset with not doing more episodes but I was more upset that I could not give to the community that I help create through content and knowledge on Southern Food, Culture, and Science. I know I gave the world, just a taste of what I can produce if giving resources, so now I am working hard to find my own source resources beyond simply crowdsourcing, as this project is not one I want to crowdsource yet. In 2019, I said never again would I help create something that I could not control or have a role in control, so I have been working on building my own catalog of content. I am not upset with the Network; I am very thankful for work with such an amazing team and platform. This experience and others in media have showed me how I want to interact with media in the future and on what terms as I create content and also am a story teller. This time has allowed me to become independent to work on projects that I will determine how and when they will see the light of day. More importantly, I was able to grow myself and support others because service and significance is important to me. However, I did work on me first and like the gas mask story when you fly, they say put the mask on you first before you place it on others and I am doing that for sure.
As I look to 2020, I am simply blessed and thankful to be where I am today considering where I am from. You are why I am here today, so Thank you. My ancestors, family, community, church and friends are why I am today. I work hard today so I can eventually drive my own path to give my gift to the world. Studying BBQ and its rich culture has helped me to understand the USA and its promise. I am excited for things to come and share with you and the world in 2020.