Preserve Marshall County & Holly Springs, Inc.’s (PMCHS) preservation initiative, the “Behind the Big House” Program, now in its seventh year, continues its educational outreach efforts towards interpreting the legacy of slavery through this pilot program. With much thanks for the continued grant assistance funding from the Mississippi Humanities Council, PMCHS has made plans for an in-depth look at a single site this year at the historic Hugh Craft House, its slave quarters and kitchen and adjacent domestic areas located at 184 S. Memphis Street in Holly Springs, Mississippi.
The program will have a quite an active site this year, as culinary historian Michael W. Twitty will be returning for his fourth year to conduct antebellum cooking demonstrations following his recent publication: The Cooking Gene.
Michael will be set up in the side lawn of the Hugh Craft House conducting his antebellum cooking demonstrations on Friday and Saturday (April 20/21), and if you are lucky enough to time your visit well, he will be pleased to share with you some of the delicious samplings from his cooking pot!
Mr. Twitty is at the forefront of reviving traditional African American foodways through seed-keeping, growing heirlooms and heritage crops, raising heritage breeds, and sustainably gathering and maintaining wild flora and fauna that our ancestors relied upon. The responsible exploration of the Southern food heritage demands that the enslaved people charge with cooking for antebellum America be honored for their unique role in giving the Southland her mother cuisine. To honor the food past and provide for the food future is what Michael calls “culinary justice.”
From Thursday through Saturday, Dr. Carolyn Freiwald will be on site with her student volunteers from the University of Mississippi’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology conducting an active excavation in the slave quarters and kitchen areas and will have table exhibits of past excavation finds at this site, helping to interpret the lives of the enslaved people who lived and toiled here.
Joseph McGill (below), founder of The Slave Dwelling Project, Inc., is returning for his seventh year to the Behind the Big House program and will be stationed within the slave quarters and kitchen from Thursday through Saturday. He will be on hand to discuss the lives of the enslaved people who lived and toiled on this site, as he has done at countless other slave-related sites across the United States. In a 2010 interview with NPR’s Michele Norris, McGill conveyed his realization that, “For so long folks have been visiting the plantation and going into the big house, and without those structures, the big house could not have existed.”
Local artisan Dale DeBerry will be on site with his colleague Wayne Jones, giving talks about 19th-century brick making and will have on hand some of his own artworks in clay for your purchase. They will be on site from Thursday through Saturday.
Historic interpreter Lois Harris is joining our program on Saturday, demonstrating the role of an enslaved laundress during the antebellum era.
On Friday night (April 20) from 5:30 – 7:30 pm, Preserve Marshall County & Holly Springs, Inc. will be hosting its annual Welcome Reception at historic Chalmers Institute located at 151 S. West Boundary Street. This year’s now-popular local social event will double as a book signing for Michael W. Twitty’s The Cooking Gene. If you have not yet purchased a copy, you may do so at the reception.
Questions? Contact PMCHS at: email@example.com
Can’t make it to this year’s Behind the Big House program? Please consider a donation to PMCHS to help support this and other preservation initiatives:
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