Friday Find: Barbecue’s Forgotten American History

Monk: Last month, as part of Black History Month Adrian Miller sat down with Flatland, the digital platform for Kansas City PBS, to discuss barbecue’s hidden history not only with black people but also the Native Americans before that. Being a Kansas City-based outlet, the focus is on barbecue of that area, including pioneer Henry Perry as well as Arthur Bryant and Ollie Gates but comes with a warning against the signs of potential erasure of black contributions to barbecue much like has been done with Native Americans and their early contributions to barbecue. A great primer for Miller’s forthcoming book Black Smoke, out next month.

Adrian Miller is on a mission. He wants to ensure the whole story of barbecue is told.

Miller recently sat down with Flatland to discuss a few key findings from his book: “Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue.”

Miller contends the barbecue story, in large part, is one of cultural appropriation. He notes, for example, that Native Americans were the first to barbecue. Enslaved Black people then became pre-eminent. Only later did white people come to dominate the barbecue narrative.

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