How do we achieve lasting social and racial justice in America? Children’s advocate and social justice icon Hubie Jones and Sweet Home Café (at the National Museum of African American History and Culture) executive chef Jerome Grant talk with Billy Shore about their perspectives on race in America and commitment to living purpose-driven lives. “On to the stage came Dr. King and he went into this oratory that absolutely blew me away… By the time I left Jordan Hall, I felt that I was levitating,” Jones recalls about the night in 1956 that helped set the course of his life. Grant shares a similar experience about opening Sweet Home Café. “Walking in that cafeteria the day before opening and seeing these murals on our walls, seeing these awesome quotes, the picture of the Woolworth dine-in boycott… You see the resiliency of us as African Americans and what we contributed to American society. There’s no feeling like that at all,” describes Grant.
Both guests share their perspectives on our increasingly divisive culture and finding a path forward. “We have a lot more work to go with the [racial] divide that’s going on now. Mostly we need to learn more about each other and not be afraid of each other,” says Grant. At age 85, Jones is well-known for mentoring thousands of young social justice advocates throughout the years. “Leaders have to be available, leaders have to be accessible – what are we doing for these young leaders to take over, stand on our shoulders and make a difference?,” he challenges.
Listen to this engaging conversation between someone who works for one of the most important museums in America and another who has lived the history it represents.
Resources and Mentions:
· No Kid Hungry (nokidhungry.org): Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.
· Hubie Jones has cemented himself as a key figure of the development of modern Boston over the last 60 years. He has been involved in the creation and leadership of over 40 organizations that have fostered positive social change. Jones became the first African American appointed to a deanship at Boston University, serving as the dean of the School of Social Work from 1977 to 1993. Between 1995 and 2002, he served as special assistant to the chancellor for urban affairs at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Jones is well known for helping found City Year, Boston Children’s Chorus and Higher Ground. He is the proud recipient of a number of prestigious awards for his work in Boston, including the MacArthur Genius Grant and the Purpose Prize. Now in his 80s, Hubie Jones continues to be relentless in his quest to make the world a better place, as he continues to impact and inspire those around him.
· City Year helps to close gaps in high-need schools by supporting students’ academic and social-emotional development while also providing schools with the additional capacity to enhance school culture and climate. It partners with schools to help bridge the gap by providing diverse, talented and trained young adult tutors, mentors and role models who work alongside teachers to support student success. City Year provides a powerful double bottom line: improved outcomes for students in high-need schools and the cultivation of the next generation of leaders through its alumni. City Year is committed to using data, research and evaluations to help us measure and understand our impact, identify best practices and inform its approach to improving outcomes for students.
· Jerome Grant is the executive chef of Sweet Home Café at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. A graduate of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute in Pittsburgh, PA, Grant began his culinary career at a young age, working with his mother at Andrews Air Force Base Officer’s Club. His skills were further sharpened in the Virgin Islands where he was awarded “Best New Chef in St. Croix” and “Young and Most Talented Chef in the Virgin Islands.” After returning to Washington, DC, Chef Grant was tapped as executive chef at the Mitsitam Native Foods Café at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. He was a critical part of the culinary team at the Mitsitam Café that won the 2012 RAMMY for Best Casual Restaurant. In 2018 and 2019 he was named a James Beard Best Chef Semifinalist: Mid-Atlantic.
· Sweet Home Café, housed in the National Museum of African American History and Culture, is the newest dining experience at the Smithsonian museum. Managed as a joint venture by Thompson Hospitality and Restaurant Associates, with celebrity chef Carla Hall as the culinary ambassador, Sweet Home Café showcases the rich culture and history of the African American people with traditional, authentic offerings as well as present-day food traditions. Behind executive chef Jerome Grant, Sweet Home Café prepares the very best version of classic dishes using from-scratch cooking with locally-sourced ingredients. Four distinct stations tell the story of regional offerings from the agricultural south, the Creole coast, the north states and the western range.