Panel: Black Food Futures: Dreams of a Food Sovereign Black World in Times of Crisis

Includes a Live Event on 11/05/2021 at 12:15 PM (EDT)

The conversation around the right to sustainable, healthy, and culturally appropriate food has grown in the past few years. How do industrial and developing nations address this issue in times of crisis? This panel will examine the social and economic impact that these resources have on not just on a community level but also on a global scale.

Valerie Grim (Moderator)

Indiana University

Dr. Valerie Grim is a Professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies at Indiana University--Bloomington. She holds a M.A. and Ph.D. in history from Iowa State University and received the undergraduate degree from Tougaloo College, a Historically Black College located in Tougaloo, Mississippi.  She currently holds positions as Director of Undergraduate Studies and Director of the Thomas I. Atkins Living Learning Community. She is the former Chair of the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies as well as former Director of Graduate Studies.  

As a scholar, Grim writes across disciplines, participating in the production of interdisciplinary scholarship from history, public and farm policies, education, race and politics, and culture to others. In spring 2021, her edited volume, with a team of co-editors, is titled: Unleashing Suppressed Voices on College Campuses: Diversity Issues in Higher Education, was published by Peter Lang.  In addition, Grim has completed a book (being revised and under contract) titled: Brooks Farm Community, formerly known as the Brooks Farm plantation, located in Sunflower and Leflore Counties in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta. Other forthcoming works in progress and are being revised for review include: Between Paternalism and Self-Determination: Rural African American Life in a Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Community, 1910-1970; Composing the Black Rural Experience Through Poetic Voices; and Growing Up Black and Rural in the American South: A Case Study of Life in Rural Mississippi.  Grim’s current REEARCH projects--Between Forty Acres and a Class Action: Black Farmers’ Protest against the United States Government, 1995-2010s and Black Land Grant Universities: Black Farming and African American Rural Development, 1990 to the present--focus on the needs of African Americans in rural America and efforts to help them achieve full democratic participation and engagement with federal farm and rural development policies and programs.  She also is co-authoring a volume on Rural Students in Higher Education.  

Throughout her career, Grim has engaged in diverse university, national, and international committee work in and outside of the academy.  These efforts have spanned more than 30 years and over 60 different committees, many of which involved engagement with students and collaborations with academic and living communities throughout the United States and Africa.  

Frederick Douglass Opie

Babson College

Frederick Douglass Opie is an innovative educator, speaker, author, and host of the Fred Opie Show. He is a Babson College Professor of History and his most recent book is Southern Food and Civil Rights: Feeding the Revolution. Fred's work examines history through the lens of food, and he use history to positively impact the future. To learn more visit

Bobby J. Smith, II

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Dr. Bobby J. Smith II is a sociologist and Assistant Professor in the department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research uses sociohistorical and community-based approaches to analyze historical and contemporary struggles for food justice and food sovereignty in Black communities in the United States. Dr. Smith is currently working on a book manuscript, tentatively titled, Food Power Politics: Civil Rights and Black Food Security in the Mississippi Delta (under contract, University of North Carolina (UNC) Press). Combining civil rights histories with food justice studies to illuminate the connections between civil rights activism and food security in rural Black communities, Smith’s book demonstrates that concerns for food disparities in black communities across the United States have deep roots in the civil rights episode of the Black Freedom Movement and the politics of food and power. Dr. Smith’s work has been published in Study the South, Food, Culture, & Society, Agriculture and Human Values, the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, and the Agricultural and Resource Economics Review. He is the recipient of fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute in partnership with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) among others.

Dr. Smith graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture, with a focus on Agricultural Economics, from Prairie View A&M University in 2011. He earned a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics in 2013 and a Ph.D. in Development Sociology in 2018 from Cornell University.

Adante Hart, MPH, RD, LDN

Registered Dietitian

Adante Hart is a Registered Dietitian, nutrition educator, speaker, and foodie. He strives to improve public health through advancing food sovereignty, primarily in communities of color. Drawing from a wealth of experience working around food in various capacities, Adante leads classes and interactive workshops on preparing meals that are both healthy and flavorful. In addition, he regularly speaks on topics related to nutrition, foodways, and health. Adante holds a Master of Public Health from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Bachelor in Biology from Johns Hopkins University. He currently resides in Durham, NC, and spends his spare time exercising, gardening, and gaming.

Njathi Kabui, MA

Master Chef

Cultural Food Anthropologist, Kenya

Njathi Kabui is a Chef with a passion in Food Justice, a Leading expert in Food Literacy, a Medical Anthropologist and an Organic farmer. He is actively involved in promoting food literacy as a Public Speaker, Writer and a Social Commentator. Chef Kabui appears regularly on one of the most popular radio stations that broadcasts in his local language. Chef Kabui has literally worked on almost all common sectors of food from the farm, marketing, to the consumer’s plate through his advocacy and eclectic farm dinners, Non-profits, museums, academic institutions  and corporate events. 

Chef Kabui has designed his own cuisine which he calls Afro Futuristic Conscious Cuisine as a more healthy option that deals with Climate Change, Health and Food Justice. He has promoted this cuisine in Africa, Europe, USA and in the UAE, at numerous educational institutions, corporate companies, nonprofits and embassies. 

Chef Kabui has set up a food literacy and sustainability center in Kenya which has a village branch and an urban branch for the purpose of promoting food literacy, food demonstration and creation of content. The center has both local and international attractions and collaborations.

Chef Kabui has presented at numerous conferences and panels such as SASS Conference in Milan Italy (2021), Kenyatta University, Kenya(2021), U.N Food Systems Summit (2021), Africa Week in  Berlin (2020), SOAS Food Summit in London (2019), The Smithsonian (2018) in Washington D.C. He is also a notable Public Speaker at various gatherings such as BCAGlobal in New York (2020), the Males Place (2018), CFSA (2020) in North Carolina and Alliance of Leadership Fellows (2022). Chef Kabui believes that the best African food is in the future.

Desiree Lewis

University of the Western Cape

Desiree Lewis is a professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at the University of the Western Cape, and the lead Principal Researcher of the supra-institutional project, a Mellon-funded intra-university “Critical Food Studies Programme”.  

Food Studies ( focus on human relationships to food. Interdisciplinary humanities-driven work is therefore vital to understanding what food means to various groups and how its preparation can be ritualized; how food is represented and understood in changing cultural configurations and social exchanges; and social and ideological struggles around the meanings, control over and access to food. By focusing primarily on food cultures and politics in South Africa, this project seeks to strengthen analysis of food, society and culture in the global South and the global North. Recognizing that current globalization requires this transnational attention, the Project is committed to creating and strengthening a research community across disciplinary and geographical boundaries.

Professor Lewis has published and taught extensively on gender, feminism, and human development. Her research focuses on humanities approaches to food systems.


Live Panel
Live event: 11/05/2021 at 12:15 PM (EDT) You must register to access.