Black Women, Food, and Power: A Libation For Sybby
My goal is to celebrate the legacy of highly skilled black women in American foodways who have been overlooked and stereotyped. The three-day programming will center around the 1 West Mansion exhibit at The Walters Art Museum. 1 West Mount Vernon Place is a Mansion in the Baltimore neighborhood of Mount Vernon that has been restored to its almost original condition in the mid-1800s. The events will specifically focus on the parlor, conservatory, and dining room areas of the home. These rooms share what is known about a woman named Sybby Grant. In the 1800s, Sybby was an enslaved servant working and residing at what is now the basement of “1 West”. She was a confident cook who could read and write (she wrote down all of the recipes she created) but was never allowed in the dining room of the mansion. After emancipation, she seemingly faded into history. Programming will be a 3 day honoring of women like Sybby Grant in American foodways of the past and present.
Day 1: Libation: Honoring Sybby
By Establishing 1 West not only as a historical site but also a sacred space we will pour Libation in remembrance of those whose stories have been lost by calling their names while simultaneously pouring water in their honor. After libation, drinks and small bites such as Turtle Soup (made with Sybby Grant’s handwritten recipes) will be passed around. An altar in honor of those enslaved at 1 West will be on display in the dining room. The altar will contain poems, flowers, candles, and hand-carved spoons and cutting boards. There will also be a looping sound piece in the dining room reflecting on the lost identity of enslaved people like Sybby.
Day 2: Black Women, Food, & Power with Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson
With food being a tool in the changing landscape of Baltimore, I feel the city as a whole could benefit from hearing the history and ideas tied to the roles black women have and could potentially play in shaping the food and hospitality industry.
Day 3: Jazz Listening Party
Funded by Baltimore, MD (October 2019)