Fried chicken, collard greens and cornbread may have been one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s favorite meals, but apparently serving it alongside a picture of the Civil Rights legend as a homage during Black History Month is “offensive.”
Wright State University this week apologized for a menu “of chicken, mashed potatoes, collard greens and cornbread under a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. and other famous black figures,” WHOI reports.
The Ohio-based public university’s Twitter account confirms as much:
A picture of the menu was also posted on Twitter:
Wright State is not the only entity to take heat recently for trying to honor MLK by serving up some home-style Southern cuisine.
Last month, an Atlantic City casino was called “seriously racist” after serving fried chicken and collard greens on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, the New York Daily News reports. The casino’s restaurant manager – an African American chef who wanted to honor her hero – was baffled.
“Our general manager of the restaurant is an African-American female who wanted to come up with the menu to celebrate and honor Dr. King,” a casino manager told The Associated Press. “We allow our managers to run their restaurants. She did research and came up with an authentic recipe. It’s very clear these were his favorite foods.”
“The AP noted a 2008 article in Knoxville News Sentinel which quoted a guide leading a tour of King’s childhood home saying that one of the Civil Rights leader’s ‘favorite meal[s] was the Sunday feast of fried chicken, collard greens, black-eyed peas and corn bread,'” the Daily News reported.
As for Wright State, some said they felt the menu – which coincided with a campus panel discussion among active members of today’s civil rights movement – was rude and stereotyped the black community.
“I was really hurt (by the menu). Extremely hurt,” Billy Barabino, a senior organizational leadership major from New Jersey and president of the Black Student Union, told WHOI. “For me, it was a knock in the face for African (and) African- American individuals who have fought for us to be progressive. I was extremely offended by it because it minimizes who we are as people.”
Is it such a crime to try to honor and respect the black community by serving up food traditions?
As a daily newspaper reporter in Southern California for a decade, I often covered annual Juneteenth celebrations, which mark the end of slavery in the United States.
Along with spareribs, beans, macaroni salad and other picnic items – there was plenty of chicken, collard greens and cornbread. None of the families were ever offended by the potluck menu. And it was downright delicious.
Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix. (@JenniferKabbany)
IMAGE: Mark Andbinder/Flickr