Toni Tipton-Martin
Toni Tipton-Martin (Photo courtesy of Toni Tipton-Martin)

Inaugural Soul Summit Friday, June 19, is Juneteenth, a traditionally joyous commemoration of the day in 1865 when news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached slaves in Texas. In African-American communities, it's a time for parades and family picnics, the celebration of culture, and the contemplation of history. This year, Austin's observance of Juneteenth will also include the first Soul Summit – A Conversation About Race, Identity, Power, and Food, an event conceived, organized, and hosted by award-winning food and nutrition journalist Toni Tipton-Martin. Tipton-Martin is a co-founder and former president of both the Southern Foodways Alliance and Foodways Texas, as well as the creator of the SANDE Youth Project, a nonprofit focused on uplifting children and their families. Tipton-Martin describes her motivation for creating the event this way, saying, "After 35 years as a food and nutrition journalist, I realized that although interest in food has increased exponentially, African-American participation has not kept pace. Soul Summit is one more way I am dedicating my career to celebrating role models who can inspire interest in African-American culinary arts and promote economic opportunities and wellness in the community." This historic symposium on African-American foodways commences on Juneteenth with a sip-and-stroll reception at the George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center offering a taste of heritage presented by Leslie Moore's Word of Mouth Catering, cocktails, and wines from Alphonse and Martha Dotson's Dotson-Cervantes vineyard. The evening's entertainment will be a historical drama performed by Austinites Carla Nickerson and Jennifer Cumberbatch. Saturday begins with breakfast boxes from Hoover's Chicken 'n Biscuit and a video welcome from The Chew's Carla Hall. That will kick off a power-packed day of presentations from African-American food scholars Jessica B. Harris and Adrian Miller; panel discussions about soul in the performing arts and reclaiming African-American career images, as well as an argument for a culinary career by author and screenwriter Lolis Eric Elie. Visiting chefs Kevin Mitchell and Benjamin Dennis will present a luncheon inspired by the sea islands with the assistance of culinary students from Austin Community College. Saturday afternoon's activities conclude with the consideration of food gentrification on a tour of food businesses in Austin's African-American Cultural Heritage District. The day comes to a close with a dinner tasting of the modern South prepared by chefs Todd Richards, Chris Williams, and Bryant Terry, and cocktails created by Tiffanie Barriere and Brandon Tipton. Culinary historian Michael Twitty will offer a genealogy presentation, the first Keeper of the Flame award will be presented, and BookPeople will be on-hand with books by all the participating authors. Aster's Ethiopian Restaurant will present an Ethiopian coffee ceremony Sunday morning, followed by a cooking demonstration from Austin's Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts that addresses the question of whether or not healthy soul food still has soul. The summit concludes with a voice of the future when 11-year-old homegrown lemonade entrepreneur Mikaila Ulmer delivers a benediction entitled "This Is How I Do." For complete details about the program and the celebrity lineup, as well as to purchase tickets, go to

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